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T.S. Eliot quotes and aphorisms

T.S. Eliot quotes and aphorisms

T.S. Eliot quotes and aphorisms
T.S. Eliot quotes and aphorisms

T.S. Eliot quotes and aphorisms, great sentences by one of the most famous 20th century’s major Modernist poets, an author who reinvigorated the English poetry.

In my beginning is my end.
T.S. Eliot

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.
T.S. Eliot

Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.
T.S. Eliot

Our emotions Are only incidents In the effort to keep day and night together.
T.S. Eliot

What the dead had no speech for, when living, They can tell you, being dead: the communication Of the dead is tongued with fire beyond the language of the living.
T.S. Eliot

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.
T.S. Eliot

I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.
T.S. Eliot

What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from.
T.S. Eliot

Art never improves, but the material of art is never quite the same.
T.S. Eliot

The whole earth is our hospital Endowed by the ruined millionaire.
T.S. Eliot

We shall not cease from exploration and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot

The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.
T.S. Eliot

War is not a life: it is a situation, one which may neither be ignored nor accepted.
T.S. Eliot

Television is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T.S. Eliot

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them.
T.S. Eliot

A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can’t be much good.
T.S. Eliot

The young feel tired at the end of an action, the old at the beginning.
T.S. Eliot

Time past and time future what might have been and what has been point to one end, which is always present.
T.S. Eliot

In the room the women come and go talking of Michelangelo.
T.S. Eliot

Hell is oneself, hell is alone, the other figures in it merely projections. There is nothing to escape from and nothing to escape to. One is always alone.
T.S. Eliot

If one has to earn a living, therefore, the safest occupation is that most remote from the arts.
T.S. Eliot

Because I cannot hope to turn again Consequently I rejoice, having to construct something Upon which to rejoice
T.S. Eliot

We can say of Shakespeare, that never has a man turned so little knowledge to such great account.
T.S. Eliot

We had the experience but missed the meaning. And approach to the meaning restores the experience in a different form.
T.S. Eliot

The sense of well being! It’s often with us When we are young, but then it’s not noticed; And by the time one has grown to consciousness It comes less often.
T.S. Eliot

Those who say they give the public what it wants begin by underestimating public taste, and end by debauching it.
T.S. Eliot

What we know of other people’s only our memory of the moments during which we knew them.
T.S. Eliot

If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, you must accept the terms it offers you.
T.S. Eliot

O you who turn the wheel and look to windward, Consider Phlebas, who was once handsome and tall as you.
T.S. Eliot

You’re still trying to invent a personality for me Which will only keep me away from myself.
T.S. Eliot

If I tried to explain, you could never understand; Explaining would only make a worse misunderstanding…
T.S. Eliot

Harry has crossed the frontier Beyond which safety and danger have a different meaning. And he cannot return. That is his privilege.
T.S. Eliot

Violent physical passions do not in themselves differentiate men from each other, but rather tend to reduce them to the same state.
T.S. Eliot

The usual dog about the town is much inclined to play the clown.
T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot great quotes
T.S. Eliot great quotes

A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.
T.S. Eliot

If you will not have God (and He is a jealous God), you should pay your respects to Hitler or Stalin.
T.S. Eliot

The backward look behind the assurance Of recorded history, the backward half-look Over the shoulder, towards the primitive terror.
T.S. Eliot

We know too much, and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.
T.S. Eliot

Upon the glazen shelves kept watch Matthew and Waldo, guardians of the faith, The army of unalterable law.
T.S. Eliot

Those who talk of the bible as a monument of English prose are merely admiring it as a monument over the grave of Christianity.
T.S. Eliot

The first condition of right thought is right sensation –the first condition of understanding a foreign country is to smell it.
T.S. Eliot

The only wisdom we can hope to acquire Is the wisdom of humility: humility is endless.
T.S. Eliot

Our age is an age of moderate virtue And moderate vice
T.S. Eliot

The more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates.
T.S. Eliot

Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living.
T.S. Eliot

So I find words I never thought to speak In streets I never thought I should revisit When I left my body on a distant shore.
T.S. Eliot

Envy is everywhere. Who is without envy? And most people Are unaware or unashamed of being envious.
T.S. Eliot

Poets in our civilization, as it exists at present, must be difficult… The poet must become more and more comprehensive, more allusive, more indirect, in order to force, to dislocate if necessary, language into its meaning.
T.S. Eliot

Hold tight, hold tight, we must insist that the world is what we have always taken it to be.
T.S. Eliot

Not less of love, but expanding Of love beyond desire, and so liberation From the Future as well as the past.
T.S. Eliot

There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labelled.
T.S. Eliot

The overwhelming pressure of mediocrity, sluggish and indomitable as a glacier, will mitigate the most violent, and depress the most exalted revolution.
T.S. Eliot

This is one moment, / But know that another / Shall pierce you with a sudden painful joy.
T.S. Eliot

Someone said: ‘The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.’ Precisely, and they are that which we know.
T.S. Eliot

For love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, But the faith and the love and the hope are all in the waiting.
T.S. Eliot

If we are moved by a poem, it has meant something, perhaps something important, to us; if we are not moved, then it is, as poetry, meaningless.
T.S. Eliot

Genuine blasphemy, genuine in spirit and not purely verbal, is the product of partial belief, and is as impossible to the complete atheist as to the perfect Christian.
T.S. Eliot

Between the idea And the reality Between the notion And the act Falls the shadow.
T.S. Eliot

Culture is the one thing that we cannot deliberately aim at. It is the product of a variety of more or less harmonious activities, each pursued for its own sake.
T.S. Eliot

Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled About the center of the silent Word.
T.S. Eliot

I suppose most editors are failed writers – but so are most writers.
T.S. Eliot

It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T.S. Eliot

Some one said: “The dead writers are remote from us because we know so much more than they did.” Precisely, and they are that which we know.
T.S. Eliot

A national culture, if it is to flourish, should be a constellation of cultures, the constitutes of which, benefiting each other, benefit the whole.
T.S. Eliot

Ambition fortifies the will of man to become ruler over other men: it operates with deception, cajolery, and violence, it is the action of impurity upon impurity.
T.S. Eliot

At the still point of the turning world. Neither flesh nor fleshless.
T.S. Eliot

Destiny waits in the hand of God, not in the hands of statesmen.
T.S. Eliot

War is not a life: it is a situation, One which may neither be ignored nor accepted.
T.S. Eliot

There is, it seems to us, At best, only a limited value In the knowledge derived from experience.
T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot at work
T.S. Eliot at work

When lovely woman stoops to folly and Paces about her room again, alone, She smooths her hair with automatic hand, And puts a record on the gramophone.
T.S. Eliot

Liberty is a different kind of pain from prison.
T.S. Eliot

Our emotions are only “incidents in the effort to keep day and night together.
T.S. Eliot

You have come to where the word ‘insult’ has no meaning; And you must put up with that.
T.S. Eliot

The chief danger about Paris is that it is such a strong stimulant.
T.S. Eliot

The general point of view may be described as classicist in literature, royalist in politics, and Anglo-Catholic in religion.
T.S. Eliot

It is generally a feminine eye that first detects the moral deficiencies hidden under the ‘dear deceit’ of beauty.
T.S. Eliot

When a great poet has lived, certain things have been done once for all, and cannot be achieved again.
T.S. Eliot

It is not enough to understand what we ought to be, unless we know what we are; and we do not understand what we are, unless we know what we ought to be.
T.S. Eliot

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain.
T.S. Eliot

I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.
T.S. Eliot

Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far they can go.
T.S. Eliot

All cases are unique and very similar to others.
T.S. Eliot

You are the music while the music lasts.
T.S. Eliot

Birth, copulation and death. That’s all the facts when you come to the brass tacks.
T.S. Eliot

Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.
T.S. Eliot

In a minute there is time for decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.
T.S. Eliot

The moment of the rose and the moment of the yew-tree Are of equal duration.
T.S. Eliot

The Civil War is not ended: I question whether any serious civil war ever does end.
T.S. Eliot

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be: am an attendant lord, one that will do to swell a progress, start a scene or two, advise the prince.
T.S. Eliot

Sometimes, however, to be a “ruined man” is itself a vocation.
T.S. Eliot

The dream crossed twilight between birth and dying.
T.S. Eliot

For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.
T.S. Eliot

The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different than that from which it is torn.
T.S. Eliot

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.
T.S. Eliot

Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair.
T.S. Eliot

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information.
T.S. Eliot

Every vital development in language is a development of feeling as well.
T.S. Eliot

They know and do not know, what it is to act or suffer. They know and do not know, that acting is suffering.
T.S. Eliot

Yet we have gone on living, Living and partly living.
T.S. Eliot

Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of self.
T.S. Eliot

Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair.
T.S. Eliot

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.
T.S. Eliot

It is a medium of entertainment which permits millions of people to listen to the same joke at the same time, and yet remain lonesome.
T.S. Eliot

The best of a bad job is all any of us make of it – Except of course the saints
T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot aphorisms and quotes
T.S. Eliot aphorisms and quotes

What is actual is actual only for one time, and only for one place.
T.S. Eliot

For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.
T.S. Eliot

I do not believe that any writer has ever exposed this bovarysme, the human will to see things as they are not, more clearly than Shakespeare.
T.S. Eliot

Footfalls echo in the memory down the passage which we did not take towards the door we never opened into the rose-garden.
T.S. Eliot

Each venture is a new beginning, a raid on the inarticulate with shabby equipment always deteriorating in the general mess of imprecision of feeling.
T.S. Eliot

Should I, after tea and cakes and ices, have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
T.S. Eliot

The awful daring of a moment’s surrender which an age of prudence can never retract.
T.S. Eliot

An editor should tell the author his writing is better than it is. Not a lot better, a little better.
T.S. Eliot

Disillusion can become itself an illusion If we rest in it.
T.S. Eliot

There was a Birth, certainly, We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death But had thought they were different.
T.S. Eliot

There is no method but to be very intelligent.
T.S. Eliot

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.
T.S. Eliot

It seems just possible that a poem might happen to a very young man: but a poem is not poetry – That is a life.
T.S. Eliot

When a poet’s mind is perfectly equipped for its work, it is constantly amalgamating disparate experiences.
T.S. Eliot

People are only influenced in the direction in which they want to go, and influence consists largely in making them conscious of their wishes to proceed in that direction.
T.S. Eliot

There is no such thing as a lost cause, because there is no such thing as a gained cause
T.S. Eliot

All art emulates the condition of ritual. That is what it comes from and to that it must always return for nourishment.
T.S. Eliot

In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away.
T.S. Eliot

Turning Wearily, as one would turn to nod goodbye to Rochefoucauld, If the street were time and he as the end of the street.
T.S. Eliot

No place of grace for those who avoid the Face. No time to rejoice for those who walk among noise and deny the Voice.
T.S. Eliot

To me…[The Waste Land] was only the relief of a personal and wholly insignificant grouse against life; it is just a piece of rhythmical grumbling.
T.S. Eliot

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.
T.S. Eliot

He who was living is now dead We who were living are now dying With a little patience.
T.S. Eliot

I had not thought death had undone so many. Sighs, short and infrequent, were exhaled.
T.S. Eliot

Words move, music moves Only in time; but that which is only living Can only die. Words, after speech, reach Into the silence. Only by the form, the pattern, Can words or music reach The stillness…
T.S. Eliot

The number of people with any criteria for distinguishing between good and evil is very small.
T.S. Eliot

Paint me the bold anfractuous rocks Faced by the snarled and yelping seas.
T.S. Eliot

I have a Gumbie Cat in mind, her name is Jennyanydots; Her coat is one of the tabby kind, with tiger stripes and lepard spots.
T.S. Eliot

I journeyed to London, to the timekept City, Where the River flows, with foreign flotations. There I was told: we have too many churches, And too few chop-houses.
T.S. Eliot

Writing every day is a way of keeping the engine running, and then something good may come out of it.
T.S. Eliot

Your burden is not to clear your conscience But to learn how to bear the burdens on your conscience.
T.S. Eliot

The houses are all gone under the sea. The dancers are all gone under the hill.
T.S. Eliot

Sensibility alters from generation to generation in everybody, whether we will or no; but expression is only altered by a man of genius.
T.S. Eliot

Tenants of the house, Thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.
T.S. Eliot

Midnight shakes the memory As a madman shakes a dead geranium.
T.S. Eliot

The rats are underneath the piles/ The Jew is underneath the lot.
T.S. Eliot

And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten, And drank coffee, and talked for an hour.
T.S. Eliot

No artist produces great art by a deliberate attempt to express his own personality.
T.S. Eliot

I have given you the power of choice, and you only alternate Between futile speculation and unconsidered action.
T.S. Eliot

Accident is design And design is accident In a cloud of unknowing.
T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot great aphorisms
T.S. Eliot great aphorisms

O dark dark dark. They all go into the dark, The vacant interstellar spaces, the vacant into the vacant.
T.S. Eliot

The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all.
T.S. Eliot

O hidden under the dove’s wing, hidden in the turtle’s breast, Under the palmtree at noon, under the running water At the still point of the turning world. O hidden.
T.S. Eliot

The one thing to do is to do nothing. Wait. … You will find that you survive humiliation and that’s an experience of incalculable value.
T.S. Eliot

Just when you think you’re on the point of release From loneliness, then loneliness swoops down upon you.
T.S. Eliot

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous. Resign yourself to be the fool you are.
T.S. Eliot

My nerves are bad to-night. Yes, bad. Stay with me. ‘Speak to me. Why do you never speak? Speak. ‘What are you thinking of? What thinking? What? ‘I never know what you are thinking. Think.
T.S. Eliot

It is certain that a book is not harmless merely because no one is consciously offended by it.
T.S. Eliot

What seas what shores what gray rocks and what islands What water lapping the bow And scent of pine and the woodthrush singing through the fog What images return O my daughter.
T.S. Eliot

Not fare well, But fare forward, voyagers.
T.S. Eliot

Stone, bronze, stone, steel, stone, oakleaves, horses’ heels Over the paving.
T.S. Eliot

To approach the stranger is to invite the unexpected, release a new force, let the genie out of the bottle. It is to start a new train of events that is beyond your control…
T.S. Eliot

The Church must be forever building, for it is forever decaying within and attacked from without.
T.S. Eliot

Stand on the highest pavement of the stair – Lean on a garden urn – Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.
T.S. Eliot

Our difficulties of the moment must always be dealt with somehow, but our permanent difficulties are difficulties of every moment.
T.S. Eliot

I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light, the silence.
T.S. Eliot

There is nothing at all to be done about it, There is nothing to do about anything
T.S. Eliot

With cats, some say, one rule is true: Don’t speak till you are spoken to.
T.S. Eliot

Trying to learn to use words, and every attempt Is a wholly new start, and a different kind of failure.
T.S. Eliot

And I must borrow every changing shape To find expression.
T.S. Eliot

Atheism should always be encouraged (i. e. rationalistic not emotional atheism) for the sake of the Faith.
T.S. Eliot

A good deal of confusion could be avoided, if we refrained from setting before the group, what can be the aim only of the individual; and before society as a whole, what can be the aim only of the group.
T.S. Eliot

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.
T.S. Eliot

I suspect that in our loathing of totalitarianism, there is infused a good deal of admiration for its efficiency.
T.S. Eliot

In a world of lunacy Violence, stupidity, greed… it is a good life.
T.S. Eliot

The years between fifty and seventy are the hardest. You are always being asked to do more, and you are not yet decrepit enough to turn them down.
T.S. Eliot

You must not on any account give me credit for being penetrating. I have impressed people that way before, and the result is always disaster.
T.S. Eliot

What is the late November doing With the disturbance of the spring.
T.S. Eliot

I do not know much about gods; but I think that the river Is a strong brown god – sullen, untamed and intractable.
T.S. Eliot

If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.
T.S. Eliot

The great poet, in writing himself, writes his time.
T.S. Eliot

In order to possess what you do not possess, you must go by the way of dispossession.
T.S. Eliot

Art never improves, but… the material of art is never quite the same.
T.S. Eliot

In a mind charged with an eager purpose and an unfinished vindictiveness, there is no room for new feelings.
T.S. Eliot

Success is relative: It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.
T.S. Eliot

Every experience is a paradox in that it means to be absolute, and yet is relative; in that it somehow always goes beyond itself and yet never escapes itself.
T.S. Eliot

Our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves, and of our visible, sensible world.
T.S. Eliot

And they write innumerable books; being too vain and distracted for silence: seeking every one after his own elevation, and dodging his emptiness.
T.S. Eliot

To rest in your own suffering Is evasion of suffering. We must learn to suffer more.
T.S. Eliot

He had a mind so fine that no idea could violate it.
T.S. Eliot

The critic must compose his differences with as many of his fellows as possible in the common pursuit of true judgement.
T.S. Eliot

People exercise an unconscious selection in being influenced.
T.S. Eliot

The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.
T.S. Eliot

The man who returns will have to meet The boy who left.
T.S. Eliot

What have we to do but stand with empty hands and palms turned upwards in an age which advances progressively backwards?
T.S. Eliot

It [tradition] cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labor.
T.S. Eliot

The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne, Glowed on the marble.
T.S. Eliot

By the same author you can also read:

T.S. Eliot poetic quotes

T.S. Eliot quotes and aphorisms

T.S. Eliot thoughts and reflections

Aforismi e citazioni di T.S. Eliot

Aprile il mese più crudele

The Waste Land by T.S. Eliot

Complete Poems by T.S. Eliot

Selected essays by T.S. Eliot

Collected poems 1909-1935


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