'These Romantic Irritations': T.S. Eliot and Love Poetry

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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.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)339-359
Number of pages21
Issue number247
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 9 Dec 2015


  • T.S. Eliot
  • Love Poetry


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