Famous T. S. Eliot Quotes About Life

In St. Louis, Missouri, Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in September 1888. He would later go on to become one of the 20th century’s most important poets. In this blog post, we have shared the most famous T. S. Eliot quotes.

ts eliot quotes

One of the most intriguing and divisive authors in the annals of English literature is T. S. Eliot. At the age of 27, he had his first collection of poetry published, and he swiftly established himself as one of his generation’s most gifted and creative authors. In 1915, he published “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” which was unorthodox at the time it was published.  The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets came after it (1943).

Additionally, he was well-known for seven plays, including The Cocktail Party and Murder in the Cathedral (1935). (1949). The 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature was given to him “for his exceptional, pioneering contribution to contemporary poetry.”

He relocated to England following World War I, where he rose to prominence in the Modernist literary movement. His plays, essays, and poetry contributed to redefining what literary expression is, and he had a significant impact on writers in the future.

82 T. S. Eliot Quotes

  1. “Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.”

2. “Humankind cannot bear very much reality.”

3. “These fragments I have shored against my ruins”

4. “Success is relative. It is what we make of the mess we have made of things.”

5. “You are the music while the music lasts.”

6. “We read many books, because we cannot know enough people.”

7. “We don’t actually fear death, we fear that no one will notice our absence, that we will disappear without a trace.”

8. “The last act is the greatest treason. To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

9. “To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life.”

10. “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.”

ts eliot the wasteland quotes

Famous T. S. Eliot Quotes

11. “If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

12. “We know too much, and are convinced of too little. Our literature is a substitute for religion, and so is our religion.”

13. “I read, much of the night, and go south in the winter.”

14. “Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

15. “I will show you fear in a handful of dust.”

16. “Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity”

17. “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man”

18. “Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”

19. “A prose that is altogether alive demands something of the reader that the ordinary novel reader is not prepared to give.”

20. “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.”

best ts eliot quotes

T. S. Eliot Quotes About Life

21. “If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you.”

22. “In my end is my beginning.”

23. “Humor is also a way of saying something serious.”

24. “Where does one go from a world of insanity? Somewhere on the other side of despair.”

25. “The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.”

26. “You will have to live with those memories and make them into something new. Only by acceptance of the past will you alter its meaning.”

27. “Most of the evil in this world is done by people with good intentions.”

28. “life is long between the desire and the spasm.”

29. “Only through time time is conquered”

30. “It is not my conscience, Not my mind, that is diseased, but the world I have to live in.”

Thought-Provoking T. S. Eliot Quotes

31. “Books. Cats. Life is good.”

32. “Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that is what you want; whatever you feel, be sure that is what you feel.”

33. “For us, there is only the trying. The rest is not our business.”

34. “Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.”

35. “Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different.”

36. “There is one who remembers the way to your door: Life you may evade, but Death you shall not.”

37. “The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality.”

38. “You have gone through life in sleep, Never woken to the nightmare. I tell you, life would be unendurable If you were wide awake.”

39. “I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.”

40. “I learn a great deal by merely observing you, and letting you talk as long as you please, and taking note of what you do not say.”

Best T. S. Eliot Quotes

41. “Survival is your strength not your shame.”

42. “I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker, and I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker, and in short, I was afraid.”

43. “We had the experience but missed the meaning. And approach to the meaning restores the experience in a different form.”

44. “An election is coming. Universal peace is declared and the foxes have a sincere interest in prolonging the lives of the poultry.”

45. “It is impossible to say just what I mean!”

46. “It’s not wise to violate the rules until you know how to observe them.”

47. “I love reading another reader’s list of favorites. Even when I find I do not share their tastes or predilections, I am provoked to compare, contrast, and contradict. It is a most healthy exercise, and one altogether fruitful.”

48. “I have seen the eternal Footman snicker hold my coat, and snicker. And in short I was afraid…”

49. “He who was living is now dead We who were living are now dying”

50. “It is certain that a book is not harmless merely because no one is consciously offended by it.”

51. “There is no water, so things are bad. If there were water, it would be better. But there is no water.”

52. “Our beginnings never know our ends.”

53. “And the end and the beginning where always there, before the beginning and after the end.”

54. “My mind may be American but my heart is British.”

55. “Culture may even be described simply as that which makes life worth living.”

56. “People to whom nothing has ever happened cannot understand the unimportance of events.”

57. “I see nothing quite conclusive in the art of temporal government, But violence, duplicity and frequent malversation.”

58. “Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

59. “They don’t understand what it is to be awake, To be living on several planes at once Though one cannot speak with several voices at once.”

60. “The river is within us, the sea is all about us;” – T. S. Eliot Quote

61. “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.”

62. “Destiny waits in the hand of god, shaping the still unshapen..”

63. “I always feel it’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them.”

64. “The last temptation is the greatest treason: To do the right deed for the wrong reason.”

65. “The majority of mankind is lazy-minded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith.”

66. “There is no feeling, except the extremes of fear and grief, that does not find relief in music.”

67. “A christian martyrdom is never an accident, for Saints are not made by accident.”

68. “I have gone at dusk through narrow streets and watched the smoke that rises from the pipes of lonely men leaning out of windows”

69. “In order to arrive at what you are not, you must go through the way in which you are not.”

70. “Success is relative: It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things, It is what he can make, not what you would make for him.”

71. “Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important.”

72. “Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance”

73. “It seems, as one becomes older, That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence”

74. “I don’t know much about gods, but I think the river is a strong, brown god”

75. “We do not know until the shell breaks what kind of egg we have been sitting on.”

76. “So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing.”

77. “The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”

78. “What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them.”

79. “The end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we know we started and know the place for the first time.”

80. “The remarkable thing about television is that it permits several million people to laugh at the same joke and still feel lonely.”

81. “A restless shivering painted shadow In life, she is less than a shadow in death.”

82. “We must not cease from exploration. And the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we began and to know the place for the first time.”

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