'These romantic irritations': T.S. Eliot and Love Poetry

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

The word ‘love’ is conspicuous by its virtual absence from T. S. Eliot's early poetry, the only occurrence in verse published before 1930 being in the ironic title of J. Alfred Prufrock's song. Eliot is also associated with the modern critical reaction against nineteenth-century sentimentality, itself invariably linked to love poetry. Yet this review of Eliot's attitudes towards love poetry reveals that the subgenre and its concerns function as a persistent shadow presence throughout his oeuvre and that the rival claims of sentimental, erotic, and divine love profoundly influenced his own writing as well as his views on other poets. The essay concludes by arguing that Eliot's own late love poem, ‘A Dedication to my Wife’, which critics have tended to marginalize, disparage, or ignore, can best be understood and accommodated within the broad context of this underlying concern.
LanguageEnglish
Pages339-359
JournalEnglish
Volume64
Issue number247
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 9 Dec 2015

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T.S. Eliot
Love Poetry
Sentimentality
Dedication
Divine Love
Subgenre
Rivals
Song
Critical Reaction
Love Poems
Poetry
Poet
Wives
Verse

Keywords

  • T.S. Eliot
  • Love Poetry

Cite this

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title = "'These romantic irritations': T.S. Eliot and Love Poetry",
abstract = "The word ‘love’ is conspicuous by its virtual absence from T. S. Eliot's early poetry, the only occurrence in verse published before 1930 being in the ironic title of J. Alfred Prufrock's song. Eliot is also associated with the modern critical reaction against nineteenth-century sentimentality, itself invariably linked to love poetry. Yet this review of Eliot's attitudes towards love poetry reveals that the subgenre and its concerns function as a persistent shadow presence throughout his oeuvre and that the rival claims of sentimental, erotic, and divine love profoundly influenced his own writing as well as his views on other poets. The essay concludes by arguing that Eliot's own late love poem, ‘A Dedication to my Wife’, which critics have tended to marginalize, disparage, or ignore, can best be understood and accommodated within the broad context of this underlying concern.",
keywords = "T.S. Eliot, Love Poetry",
author = "Tim Hancock",
note = "Reference text: ↵1 Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992), p. 211. ↵2 Gabrielle McIntire, Modernism, Memory and Desire: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 3, 2. ↵3 Steven Matthews, T. S. Eliot and Early Modern Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 1. ↵4 See ‘Crow's First Lesson’, Crow, Faber Library Edition (London: Faber and Faber, 1995), p. 9. ↵5 T. S. Eliot, ‘What Dante means to me’, in To Criticize the Critic (London: Faber and Faber, 1965), pp. 125–35 (p. 127). ↵6 T. S. Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, 3rd edn (London: Faber and Faber, 1951), pp. 237–77 (p. 274). ↵7 McIntire, Modernism, Memory, and Desire, pp. 110–12. ↵8 C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), p. 17. ↵9 Quiller-Couch, Studies in Literature, First Series, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930), p. 174; Mina Loy, ‘Songs to Joannes’, The Lost Lunar Baedeker (Manchester: Carcanet, 1997), p. 68, p. 53. Sentimental Modernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), Suzanne Clark's exploration of discourses of romantic feeling marginalized by a predominantly masculine orthodoxy, complicates this picture of modernist anti-sentimentality, although Loy is a notable absentee from her study. ↵10 Eliot, The Sacred Wood, 2nd edn (London: Faber and Faber, 1960), p. 7. ↵11 Herbert Grierson, ‘The First Half of the Seventeenth Century’, in John Donne: The Critical Heritage, vol II, ed. by A. J. Smith and Catherine Phillips (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 259–64 (p. 262); Eliot, ‘The Metaphysical Poets’, in Selected Essays, pp. 281–91 (p. 288). ↵12 T. S. Eliot, On Poetry and Poets (London: Faber and Faber, 1957), pp. 89–102 (p. 90). ↵13 T. S. Eliot, ‘A Dedication to my Wife’, in Collected Poems 1909–1962 (London: Faber and Faber, 1963) (henceforth CP in main text), p. 234. ↵14 I am indebted to Lake's argument that the poem occupies a significant place within a broader autobiographical narrative that he christens ‘The Eliad’. See ‘T. S. Eliot's “Vita Nuova” and “Mi-Chemin”: “The Sensus Historicus”’, Ariel (English), 2 (1971), 43–57. ↵15 ‘Nocturne’, first published in The Harvard Advocate, 88.3 (12 November 1909), reprinted in Poems Written in Early Youth, ed. by John Hayward (London: Faber and Faber, 1967), p. 29; Peter Ackroyd, T. S. Eliot (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1984), p. 327. ↵16 Maud Ellmann, The Poetics of Impersonality (Brighton: Harvester, 1987), p. 75. ↵17 Eliot, Inventions of the March Hare, ed. by Christopher Ricks (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), pp. 48–49. ↵18 Not to mention the rampant, carnivalesque obscenities of Captain Columbo and King Bolo, begun at Harvard but enclosed in correspondence through the war years and beyond. See Inventions of the March Hare, pp. 315–21. ↵19 Ellmann, The Poetics of Impersonality, p. 80. ↵20 Frank Lentricchia, Modernist Quartet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 265. ↵21 McIntire, Modernism, Memory and Desire, pp. 96–97; Moody, ‘Four Quartets: music, word, meaning and value’, in The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. by Moody (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 142–57 (p. 153). ↵22 ‘Love and Mr Eliot’, in T. S. Eliot: The Contemporary Reviews, ed. by Jewel Spears Brooker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 567. ↵23 Eliot, Collected Plays (London: Faber and Faber, 1962), pp. 333–34, 353, 325. ↵24 Eliot, ‘Donne in our Time’, in A Garland for John Donne 1631–1931, ed. by Theodore Spencer, 2nd edn (Gloucester MA: Peter Smith, 1958), pp. 3–19 (p. 16). ↵25 Eliot, ‘Donne in our Time’, p. 8. The influence of Mario Praz's Secentismo e Marinism in Inghilterra (Florence: ‘La Voce’, 1925), which Eliot read in preparation for his Clark Lectures, should also be acknowledged here. ↵26 Eliot, The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry: The Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1926, and the Turnbull Lectures at Johns Hopkins University, 1933, ed. by Ronald Schuchard (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), pp. 54, 114. ↵27 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, p. 111. ↵28 Eliot, ‘Donne in our Time’, p. 9. ↵29 Eliot, ‘Lancelot Andrewes’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Frank Kermode (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), pp. 179–188 (p. 182). ↵30 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, pp. 114–15. ↵31 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, p. 288. ↵32 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, p. 167. ↵33 Lewis, The Four Loves, pp. 17, 127. ↵34 For the Christian critique of Rossetti, see Nicolette Gray, Rossetti, Dante and Ourselves (London: Faber and Faber, 1947), pp. 39, 41. ↵35 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems, 6th edn (London: F. S. Ellis, 1872), pp. 1–7 (p. 7). ↵36 Walter Pater, ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti’, in Appreciations with an Essay on Style, Library edition (London: Macmillan, 1910), pp. 205–18 (pp. 212, 207). ↵37 Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, Library edn (London: Macmillan, 1919), p. 236; Eliot, ‘Arnold and Pater’, in Selected Essays, pp. 431–43 (p. 442). But see also Matthews, T. S. Eliot and Early Modern Literature, pp. 10–13 for common ground between Eliot and Pater. ↵38 ‘I am, I confess to you, in private life a bank clerk’: see Christopher Ricks, T. S. Eliot and Prejudice (London: Faber and Faber, 1988), p. 115; Anne Stillman, ‘Culture's Lost Words’, Cambridge Quarterly, 36.2 (2007), 189–96 (p. 189). ↵39 Eliot, ‘Eeldrop and Appleplex’, The Little Review, 4.5 (September, 1917), 16–19 (p. 16). ↵40 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, pp. 262, 276, 274. ↵41 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, pp. 174, 166. ↵42 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, p. 271. ↵43 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, pp. 271, 276. ↵44 Eliot, ‘Religion and Literature’, in Selected Essays, pp. 388–401 (p. 388). ↵45 See Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. by T. S. Eliot (London: Faber and Faber, 1954), pp. 150, 193. ↵46 Letter to Ezra Pound, 22 December 1924. Quoted in Inventions of the March Hare, p. 394. ↵47 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, p. 262. ↵48 Eliot, ‘Eeldrop and Appleplex’, p. 17. Eliot uses the word ‘experience’ elsewhere as a euphemism for erotic encounters: see, for example, ‘Dans Le Restaurant’; CP, p. 53. ↵49 Eliot, Saltire Review, 4 (Summer 1957), p. 57. Quoted in Inventions of the March Hare, pp. 395, 397. ↵50 W. B. Yeats, Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, Vol III: Autobiographies (New York: Scribner, 1999), pp. 109–286 (p. 251). ↵51 Eliot, Inventions of the March Hare, p. 397. ↵52 Ronald Schuchard, Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 18. ↵53 Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, pp. 231–36 (p. 235). ↵54 Eliot, ‘Religion and Literature’, in [supply publication details], p. 99. ↵55 Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, pp. 231, 235, 236. ↵56 Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, p. 236. ↵57 Eliot, ‘Dante’ in Selected Essays, p. 251. ↵58 It is similarly telling that, as Steve Ellis has noted, ‘there is no response in his writings to the Commedia's politics’. See Dante and English Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 223. ↵59 The Sacred Wood, pp. 165–66. ↵60 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, pp. 262–63. ↵61 Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, in Selected Essays, pp. 13–22 (pp. 21, 18). ↵62 Eliot, On Poetry and Poets, p. 122; The Sacred Wood, p. 7. ↵63 Eliot, ‘Reflections on Contemporary Poetry’, The Egoist, 6.3 (July 1919), p. 39. ↵64 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, p. 273. ↵65 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, pp. 97–98. Eliot's childhood romance seems to have occurred when he was four or five – see Schuchard's footnote, p. 98. ↵66 And indeed the waiter of ‘Dans le Restaurant’ (CP, p. 53), whose own recalled erotic ‘exp{\'e}riences’ challenge Eliot's idealization of his childhood encounter. ↵67 ‘Lancelot Andrewes’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, p. 187. Logan Pearsall Smith's characterization of Donne, quoted appreciatively in this essay, could certainly be applied to Eliot: ‘there remains something baffling and enigmatic which still eludes our last analysis […] the thought suggests itself that Donne is often saying something else, something poignant and personal, and yet, in the end, incommunicable to us’ (p. 181). ↵68 Eliot, On Poetry and Poets, p. 258. ↵69 Eliot, On Poetry and Poets, p. 131. ↵70 Eliot, Inventions of the March Hare, p. 86. The verb ‘to convince’ here, as Ricks has clarified, indicates an increasing cognizance of the ‘sin and error’ of such compulsions, one that is necessary if they are to be overcome. See p. 282. ↵71 Quoted in Schuchard, Eliot's Dark Angel, p. 152. ↵72 Quoted in Carole Seymour-Jones, Painted Shadow: A Life of Vivienne Eliot (London: Doubleday, 2002), p. 455. ↵73 Quoted in Seymour-Jones, Painted Shadow, p. 454. ↵74 For the Christian imagery, and especially the presence of Dante, in ‘Ash Wednesday’, see especially Mario Praz, The Flaming Heart (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1966), pp. 366–71, and Louis L. Martz, ‘T. S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday: Voices for the Veiled Lady’, in Many Gods and Many Voices: The Role of the Prophet in English and American Modernism (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998), pp. 150–58. ↵75 F. O. Matthiessen, ‘The “Objective Correlative”’, in T. S. Eliot, ed. by Harold Bloom (Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003), pp. 83–96 (p. 92). For the significance of lilac in Eliot's writing, see James E. Miller, T. S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1977), pp. 24–25. ↵76 Ellis, Dante and English Poetry, p. 217. ↵77 Martin Scofield, T. S. Eliot: The Poems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 19; Michael Hamburger, The Truth of Poetry: Tensions in Modern Poetry from Baudelaire to the 1960s (Manchester: Carcanet, 1982), p. 127; Thomas Stanley Matthews, Great Tom: Notes Towards the Definition of T. S. Eliot (London: Harper and Row, 1974), p. 214. ↵78 There is no indexed reference to it in, for example, The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. by Moody; McIntire, Modernism, Memory and Desire; Gender, Desire and Sexuality in T. S. Eliot, ed. by Cassandra Laity and Nancy K. Gish (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Craig Raine, T. S. Eliot (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). ↵79 T. S. Eliot: The Contemporary Reviews, p. 567. ↵80 Eliot, Collected Plays, p. 107. ↵81 John Peter, ‘A New Interpretation of The Waste Land’, Essays in Criticism, 2 (July 1952), 242–66. For the debate over Eliot's sexuality, see Suzanne W. Churchill, ‘Outing T. S. Eliot’, Criticism, 47.1 (Winter 2005), 7–30. ↵82 Lyndall Gordon, ‘Eliot and Women’, in T. S. Eliot: The Modernist in History, ed. by Ronald Bush (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 9–22 (p. 20); E. W. F. Tomlin, T. S. Eliot: A Friendship (London: Routledge, 1988). For Eliot's health problems at this time, see Ackroyd, T. S. Eliot, p. 317. ↵83 Valerie Eliot quoted from a private paper written late in life wherein Eliot comments that his first marriage brought about ‘the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land’. See The Letters of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton, 2 vols, rev. edn (London: Faber and Faber, 2009), vol. 1: 1888–1922, p. xix. ↵84 See Robert McCrum, ‘Revealed: the remarkable tale of T. S. Eliot's late love affair’, The Observer, 24 May 2009, Review section, p. 8. ↵85 Ibid. ↵86 See ‘East Coker, II’; CP, p. 198.",
year = "2015",
month = "12",
day = "9",
doi = "10.1093/english/efv028",
language = "English",
volume = "64",
pages = "339--359",
journal = "English",
issn = "0013-8215",
number = "247",

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'These romantic irritations': T.S. Eliot and Love Poetry. / Hancock, Tim.

In: English, Vol. 64, No. 247, 09.12.2015, p. 339-359.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

TY - JOUR

T1 - 'These romantic irritations': T.S. Eliot and Love Poetry

AU - Hancock, Tim

N1 - Reference text: ↵1 Virginia Woolf, To the Lighthouse (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1992), p. 211. ↵2 Gabrielle McIntire, Modernism, Memory and Desire: T. S. Eliot and Virginia Woolf (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2008), pp. 3, 2. ↵3 Steven Matthews, T. S. Eliot and Early Modern Literature (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013), p. 1. ↵4 See ‘Crow's First Lesson’, Crow, Faber Library Edition (London: Faber and Faber, 1995), p. 9. ↵5 T. S. Eliot, ‘What Dante means to me’, in To Criticize the Critic (London: Faber and Faber, 1965), pp. 125–35 (p. 127). ↵6 T. S. Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, 3rd edn (London: Faber and Faber, 1951), pp. 237–77 (p. 274). ↵7 McIntire, Modernism, Memory, and Desire, pp. 110–12. ↵8 C. S. Lewis, The Four Loves (London: Geoffrey Bles, 1960), p. 17. ↵9 Quiller-Couch, Studies in Literature, First Series, 2nd edn (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1930), p. 174; Mina Loy, ‘Songs to Joannes’, The Lost Lunar Baedeker (Manchester: Carcanet, 1997), p. 68, p. 53. Sentimental Modernism (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1991), Suzanne Clark's exploration of discourses of romantic feeling marginalized by a predominantly masculine orthodoxy, complicates this picture of modernist anti-sentimentality, although Loy is a notable absentee from her study. ↵10 Eliot, The Sacred Wood, 2nd edn (London: Faber and Faber, 1960), p. 7. ↵11 Herbert Grierson, ‘The First Half of the Seventeenth Century’, in John Donne: The Critical Heritage, vol II, ed. by A. J. Smith and Catherine Phillips (London: Routledge, 1996), pp. 259–64 (p. 262); Eliot, ‘The Metaphysical Poets’, in Selected Essays, pp. 281–91 (p. 288). ↵12 T. S. Eliot, On Poetry and Poets (London: Faber and Faber, 1957), pp. 89–102 (p. 90). ↵13 T. S. Eliot, ‘A Dedication to my Wife’, in Collected Poems 1909–1962 (London: Faber and Faber, 1963) (henceforth CP in main text), p. 234. ↵14 I am indebted to Lake's argument that the poem occupies a significant place within a broader autobiographical narrative that he christens ‘The Eliad’. See ‘T. S. Eliot's “Vita Nuova” and “Mi-Chemin”: “The Sensus Historicus”’, Ariel (English), 2 (1971), 43–57. ↵15 ‘Nocturne’, first published in The Harvard Advocate, 88.3 (12 November 1909), reprinted in Poems Written in Early Youth, ed. by John Hayward (London: Faber and Faber, 1967), p. 29; Peter Ackroyd, T. S. Eliot (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1984), p. 327. ↵16 Maud Ellmann, The Poetics of Impersonality (Brighton: Harvester, 1987), p. 75. ↵17 Eliot, Inventions of the March Hare, ed. by Christopher Ricks (London: Faber and Faber, 1996), pp. 48–49. ↵18 Not to mention the rampant, carnivalesque obscenities of Captain Columbo and King Bolo, begun at Harvard but enclosed in correspondence through the war years and beyond. See Inventions of the March Hare, pp. 315–21. ↵19 Ellmann, The Poetics of Impersonality, p. 80. ↵20 Frank Lentricchia, Modernist Quartet (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), p. 265. ↵21 McIntire, Modernism, Memory and Desire, pp. 96–97; Moody, ‘Four Quartets: music, word, meaning and value’, in The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. by Moody (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), pp. 142–57 (p. 153). ↵22 ‘Love and Mr Eliot’, in T. S. Eliot: The Contemporary Reviews, ed. by Jewel Spears Brooker (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), p. 567. ↵23 Eliot, Collected Plays (London: Faber and Faber, 1962), pp. 333–34, 353, 325. ↵24 Eliot, ‘Donne in our Time’, in A Garland for John Donne 1631–1931, ed. by Theodore Spencer, 2nd edn (Gloucester MA: Peter Smith, 1958), pp. 3–19 (p. 16). ↵25 Eliot, ‘Donne in our Time’, p. 8. The influence of Mario Praz's Secentismo e Marinism in Inghilterra (Florence: ‘La Voce’, 1925), which Eliot read in preparation for his Clark Lectures, should also be acknowledged here. ↵26 Eliot, The Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry: The Clark Lectures at Trinity College, Cambridge, 1926, and the Turnbull Lectures at Johns Hopkins University, 1933, ed. by Ronald Schuchard (London: Faber and Faber, 1993), pp. 54, 114. ↵27 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, p. 111. ↵28 Eliot, ‘Donne in our Time’, p. 9. ↵29 Eliot, ‘Lancelot Andrewes’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Frank Kermode (London: Faber and Faber, 1975), pp. 179–188 (p. 182). ↵30 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, pp. 114–15. ↵31 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, p. 288. ↵32 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, p. 167. ↵33 Lewis, The Four Loves, pp. 17, 127. ↵34 For the Christian critique of Rossetti, see Nicolette Gray, Rossetti, Dante and Ourselves (London: Faber and Faber, 1947), pp. 39, 41. ↵35 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, Poems, 6th edn (London: F. S. Ellis, 1872), pp. 1–7 (p. 7). ↵36 Walter Pater, ‘Dante Gabriel Rossetti’, in Appreciations with an Essay on Style, Library edition (London: Macmillan, 1910), pp. 205–18 (pp. 212, 207). ↵37 Pater, The Renaissance: Studies in Art and Poetry, Library edn (London: Macmillan, 1919), p. 236; Eliot, ‘Arnold and Pater’, in Selected Essays, pp. 431–43 (p. 442). But see also Matthews, T. S. Eliot and Early Modern Literature, pp. 10–13 for common ground between Eliot and Pater. ↵38 ‘I am, I confess to you, in private life a bank clerk’: see Christopher Ricks, T. S. Eliot and Prejudice (London: Faber and Faber, 1988), p. 115; Anne Stillman, ‘Culture's Lost Words’, Cambridge Quarterly, 36.2 (2007), 189–96 (p. 189). ↵39 Eliot, ‘Eeldrop and Appleplex’, The Little Review, 4.5 (September, 1917), 16–19 (p. 16). ↵40 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, pp. 262, 276, 274. ↵41 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, pp. 174, 166. ↵42 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, p. 271. ↵43 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, pp. 271, 276. ↵44 Eliot, ‘Religion and Literature’, in Selected Essays, pp. 388–401 (p. 388). ↵45 See Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. by T. S. Eliot (London: Faber and Faber, 1954), pp. 150, 193. ↵46 Letter to Ezra Pound, 22 December 1924. Quoted in Inventions of the March Hare, p. 394. ↵47 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, p. 262. ↵48 Eliot, ‘Eeldrop and Appleplex’, p. 17. Eliot uses the word ‘experience’ elsewhere as a euphemism for erotic encounters: see, for example, ‘Dans Le Restaurant’; CP, p. 53. ↵49 Eliot, Saltire Review, 4 (Summer 1957), p. 57. Quoted in Inventions of the March Hare, pp. 395, 397. ↵50 W. B. Yeats, Collected Works of W. B. Yeats, Vol III: Autobiographies (New York: Scribner, 1999), pp. 109–286 (p. 251). ↵51 Eliot, Inventions of the March Hare, p. 397. ↵52 Ronald Schuchard, Eliot's Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001), p. 18. ↵53 Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, pp. 231–36 (p. 235). ↵54 Eliot, ‘Religion and Literature’, in [supply publication details], p. 99. ↵55 Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, pp. 231, 235, 236. ↵56 Eliot, ‘Baudelaire’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, p. 236. ↵57 Eliot, ‘Dante’ in Selected Essays, p. 251. ↵58 It is similarly telling that, as Steve Ellis has noted, ‘there is no response in his writings to the Commedia's politics’. See Dante and English Poetry (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1983), p. 223. ↵59 The Sacred Wood, pp. 165–66. ↵60 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, pp. 262–63. ↵61 Eliot, ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’, in Selected Essays, pp. 13–22 (pp. 21, 18). ↵62 Eliot, On Poetry and Poets, p. 122; The Sacred Wood, p. 7. ↵63 Eliot, ‘Reflections on Contemporary Poetry’, The Egoist, 6.3 (July 1919), p. 39. ↵64 Eliot, ‘Dante’, in Selected Essays, p. 273. ↵65 Eliot, Varieties of Metaphysical Poetry, pp. 97–98. Eliot's childhood romance seems to have occurred when he was four or five – see Schuchard's footnote, p. 98. ↵66 And indeed the waiter of ‘Dans le Restaurant’ (CP, p. 53), whose own recalled erotic ‘expériences’ challenge Eliot's idealization of his childhood encounter. ↵67 ‘Lancelot Andrewes’, in Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, p. 187. Logan Pearsall Smith's characterization of Donne, quoted appreciatively in this essay, could certainly be applied to Eliot: ‘there remains something baffling and enigmatic which still eludes our last analysis […] the thought suggests itself that Donne is often saying something else, something poignant and personal, and yet, in the end, incommunicable to us’ (p. 181). ↵68 Eliot, On Poetry and Poets, p. 258. ↵69 Eliot, On Poetry and Poets, p. 131. ↵70 Eliot, Inventions of the March Hare, p. 86. The verb ‘to convince’ here, as Ricks has clarified, indicates an increasing cognizance of the ‘sin and error’ of such compulsions, one that is necessary if they are to be overcome. See p. 282. ↵71 Quoted in Schuchard, Eliot's Dark Angel, p. 152. ↵72 Quoted in Carole Seymour-Jones, Painted Shadow: A Life of Vivienne Eliot (London: Doubleday, 2002), p. 455. ↵73 Quoted in Seymour-Jones, Painted Shadow, p. 454. ↵74 For the Christian imagery, and especially the presence of Dante, in ‘Ash Wednesday’, see especially Mario Praz, The Flaming Heart (Gloucester, MA: Peter Smith, 1966), pp. 366–71, and Louis L. Martz, ‘T. S. Eliot, Ash-Wednesday: Voices for the Veiled Lady’, in Many Gods and Many Voices: The Role of the Prophet in English and American Modernism (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1998), pp. 150–58. ↵75 F. O. Matthiessen, ‘The “Objective Correlative”’, in T. S. Eliot, ed. by Harold Bloom (Philadelphia: Chelsea House, 2003), pp. 83–96 (p. 92). For the significance of lilac in Eliot's writing, see James E. Miller, T. S. Eliot's Personal Waste Land (University Park, PA: Penn State University Press, 1977), pp. 24–25. ↵76 Ellis, Dante and English Poetry, p. 217. ↵77 Martin Scofield, T. S. Eliot: The Poems (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 19; Michael Hamburger, The Truth of Poetry: Tensions in Modern Poetry from Baudelaire to the 1960s (Manchester: Carcanet, 1982), p. 127; Thomas Stanley Matthews, Great Tom: Notes Towards the Definition of T. S. Eliot (London: Harper and Row, 1974), p. 214. ↵78 There is no indexed reference to it in, for example, The Cambridge Companion to T. S. Eliot, ed. by Moody; McIntire, Modernism, Memory and Desire; Gender, Desire and Sexuality in T. S. Eliot, ed. by Cassandra Laity and Nancy K. Gish (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004); Craig Raine, T. S. Eliot (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006). ↵79 T. S. Eliot: The Contemporary Reviews, p. 567. ↵80 Eliot, Collected Plays, p. 107. ↵81 John Peter, ‘A New Interpretation of The Waste Land’, Essays in Criticism, 2 (July 1952), 242–66. For the debate over Eliot's sexuality, see Suzanne W. Churchill, ‘Outing T. S. Eliot’, Criticism, 47.1 (Winter 2005), 7–30. ↵82 Lyndall Gordon, ‘Eliot and Women’, in T. S. Eliot: The Modernist in History, ed. by Ronald Bush (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1991), pp. 9–22 (p. 20); E. W. F. Tomlin, T. S. Eliot: A Friendship (London: Routledge, 1988). For Eliot's health problems at this time, see Ackroyd, T. S. Eliot, p. 317. ↵83 Valerie Eliot quoted from a private paper written late in life wherein Eliot comments that his first marriage brought about ‘the state of mind out of which came The Waste Land’. See The Letters of T. S. Eliot, ed. by Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton, 2 vols, rev. edn (London: Faber and Faber, 2009), vol. 1: 1888–1922, p. xix. ↵84 See Robert McCrum, ‘Revealed: the remarkable tale of T. S. Eliot's late love affair’, The Observer, 24 May 2009, Review section, p. 8. ↵85 Ibid. ↵86 See ‘East Coker, II’; CP, p. 198.

PY - 2015/12/9

Y1 - 2015/12/9

N2 - The word ‘love’ is conspicuous by its virtual absence from T. S. Eliot's early poetry, the only occurrence in verse published before 1930 being in the ironic title of J. Alfred Prufrock's song. Eliot is also associated with the modern critical reaction against nineteenth-century sentimentality, itself invariably linked to love poetry. Yet this review of Eliot's attitudes towards love poetry reveals that the subgenre and its concerns function as a persistent shadow presence throughout his oeuvre and that the rival claims of sentimental, erotic, and divine love profoundly influenced his own writing as well as his views on other poets. The essay concludes by arguing that Eliot's own late love poem, ‘A Dedication to my Wife’, which critics have tended to marginalize, disparage, or ignore, can best be understood and accommodated within the broad context of this underlying concern.

AB - The word ‘love’ is conspicuous by its virtual absence from T. S. Eliot's early poetry, the only occurrence in verse published before 1930 being in the ironic title of J. Alfred Prufrock's song. Eliot is also associated with the modern critical reaction against nineteenth-century sentimentality, itself invariably linked to love poetry. Yet this review of Eliot's attitudes towards love poetry reveals that the subgenre and its concerns function as a persistent shadow presence throughout his oeuvre and that the rival claims of sentimental, erotic, and divine love profoundly influenced his own writing as well as his views on other poets. The essay concludes by arguing that Eliot's own late love poem, ‘A Dedication to my Wife’, which critics have tended to marginalize, disparage, or ignore, can best be understood and accommodated within the broad context of this underlying concern.

KW - T.S. Eliot

KW - Love Poetry

U2 - 10.1093/english/efv028

DO - 10.1093/english/efv028

M3 - Article

VL - 64

SP - 339

EP - 359

JO - English

T2 - English

JF - English

SN - 0013-8215

IS - 247

ER -