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Selected Poems of T S Elliot

     

     

    Morning at the Window

     

    They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,

    And along the trampled edges of the street

    I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids

    Sprouting despondently at area gates.

     

    The brown waves of fog toss up to me

    Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,

    And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts

    An aimless smile that hovers in the air

    And vanishes along the level of the roofs.

     

    ****

     

    The Hollow Men

     

    A penny for the Old Guy

    I

    We are the hollow men

    We are the stuffed men

    Leaning together

    Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!

    Our dried voices, when

    We whisper together

    Are quiet and meaningless

    As Wind in dry grass

    Or rats’ feet over broken glass

    In our dry cellar

    Shape without form, shade without colour,

    Paralysed force, gesture without motion;

    Those who have crossed

    With direct eyes, to death’s other Kingdom

    Remember us-if at all-not as lost

    Violent souls, but only

    As the hollow men

    The stuffed men.

    II

    Eyes I dare not meet in dreams

    In death’s dream kingdom

    These do not appear:

    There, the eyes are

    Sunlight on a broken column

    There, IS a tree swinging

    And Voices are

    In the Wind’s singing

    More distant and more solemn

    Than a fading star.

     

    Let me be no nearer

    In death’s dream kingdom

    Let me also wear

    Such deliberate disguises

    Rat’s coat, crowskin, crossed staves

    In a field

    Behaving as the wind behaves

    No nearer-

     

     

    Not that final meeting

    In the twilight kingdom

     

    III

    This is the dead land

    This IS cactus land

    Here the stone Images

    Are raised, here they receive

    The supplication of a dead man’s hand

    Under the twinkle of a fading star.

    Is it like this

    In death’s other kingdom

    Waking alone

    At the hour when we are

    Trembling with tenderness

    Lips that would kiss

    Form prayers to broken stone.

     

     

    IV

    The eyes are not here

    There are no eyes here

    In this valley of dying stars

    In tills hollow valley

    This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

     

    In this last of meeting places

    We grope together

    And avoid speech

    Gathered on this beach of the tumid river

     

    Sightless, unless

    The eyes reappear

    As the perpetual star

    Multifoliate rose

    Of death’s twilight kingdom

    The hope only

    Of empty men.

     

    V

    Here we go round the prickly pear

    Prickly pear prickly pear

    Here we go round the prickly pear

    At five o’clock in the morning.

     

    Between the idea

    And the reality

    Between the motion

    And the act

    Falls the Shadow

    For Thine is the Kingdom

     

     

    Between the conception

    And the creation

    Between the emotion

    And the response

    Falls the Shadow

    Life is very long

     

    Between the desire

    And the spasm

    Between the potency

    And the existence

    Between the essence

    And the descent

    Falls the Shadow

    For Thine is the Kingdom

     

     

    For Thine is

    Life is

    For Time is the

     

    This is the way the world ends

    This is the way the world ends

    This is the way the world ends

    Not with a bang but a whimper.

    ****

     

     

    Journey of the Magi

     

    ‘A cold coming we had of it,

    Just the worst time of the year

    For a journey, and such a long journey:

    The ways deep and the weather sharp,

    The very dead of winter.’

    And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,

    Lying down in the melting snow.

    There were times we regretted

    The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,

    And the Silken girls bringing sherbet.

    Then the camel men cursing and grumbling

    And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,

    And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,

    And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly

    And the villages dirty and charging high prices:

    A hard time we had of it.

    At the end we preferred to travel all night,

    Sleeping in snatches,

    With the voices singing in our ears, saying

    That this was all folly.

     

    Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,

    Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation,

    With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,

    And three trees on the low sky.

    And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.

    Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel

    Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,

    And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.

    But there was no information, and so we continued

    And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon

    Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

     

    All this was a long time ago, I remember.

    And I would do it again, but set down

    This set down

    This: were we led all that way for

    Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,

    We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,

    But had thought they were different, this Birth was

    Hard and bitter agony for us, like death, our death.

    We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,

    But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,

    With an alien people clutching their gods.

    I should be glad of another death.

     

    ****

     

     

     

    Animula

    ‘Issues from the hand of God, the simple sour

    To a flat world of changing lights and noise,

    To light, dark, dry or damp, chilly or warn,

    Moving between the legs of tables and of chairs,

    Rising or falling, grasping at kisses and toys,

    Advancing boldly, sudden to take alarm,

    Retreating to the comer of arm and knee,

    Eager to be reassured, taking pleasure

    In the fragrant brilliance of the Christmas tree,

    Pleasure in the wind, the sunlight and the sea;

    Studies the sunlit pattern on the floor

    And running stags around a silver tray;

    Confounds the actual and the fanciful,

    Content with playing-cards and kings and queens,

    What the fairies do and what the servants say.

    The heavy burden of the growing soul

    Perplexes and offends more, day by day;

    Week by week, offends and perplexes more

    With the imperatives of ‘is and seems’

    And may and may not, desire and control.

    The pam of living and the drug of dreams

    Curl up the small soul in the window seat

    Behind the Encyclopaedia Britannica.

    Issues from the hand of time the simple soul

    Irresolute and selfish, misshapen, lame,

    Unable to fare forward or retreat,

    Fearing the warm reality, the offered good,

    Denying the importunity of the blood,

    Shadow of its own shadows, spectre in its own gloom,

    Leaving disordered papers in a dusty room;

    Living first in the silence after the viaticum.

    Pray for Guiterriez, avid of speed and power,

    For Boudin, blown to pieces,

    For this one who made a great fortune,

    And that one who went his own way.

    Pray for Floret, by the boarhound slain between the yew trees,

    Pray for us now and at the hour of our birth.

     

    ****

     

    Eyes that last I saw in tears

     

    Eyes that last I saw in tears

    Through division

    Here in death’s dream kingdom

    The golden vision reappears

    I see the eyes but not the tears

    This is my affliction

     

    This is my affliction

    Eyes I shall not see again

    Eyes of decision

    Eyes I shall not see unless

    At the door of death’s other kingdom

    Where, as in this.

    The eyes outlast a little while

    A little while outlast the tears

    And hold us in derision.

    ****

     

     

    The wind sprang up at four o’clock

     

    The wind sprang up at four o’clock

    The wind sprang up and broke the bells

    Swinging between life and death

    Here, in death’s dream kingdom

    The waking echo of confusing strife

    Is It a dream or something else

    When the surface of the blackened river

    Is a face that sweats with tears?

    I saw across the blackened river

    The camp fire shake with alien spears.

    Here, across death’s other river

    The Tartar horsemen shake their spears.

    ****

     

     

    Lines for an Old Man

     

    The tiger in the tiger-pit

    Is not more irritable than I.

    The whipping tail is not more still

    Than when I smell the enemy

    Writhing in the essential blood

    Or dangling from the friendly tree.

    When I lay bare the tooth of wit

    The hissing over the arched tongue

    Is more affectionate than hate,

    More bitter than the love of youth,

    And inaccessible by the young.

    Reflected from my golden eye

    The dullard knows that he is mad.

    Tell me if I am not glad!

    ****

     

     

    Rhapsody on a Windy Night

    Twelve o’clock.
    Along the reaches of the street
    Held in a lunar synthesis,
    Whispering lunar incantations
    Dissolve the floors of memory
    And all its clear relations,
    Its divisions and precisions.
    Every street lamp that I pass
    Beats like a fatalistic drum,
    And through the spaces of the dark
    Midnight shakes the memory
    As a madman shakes a dead geranium.

    Half-past one,
    The street-lamp sputtered,
    ‘The street-lamp muttered,
    The street-lamp said, ‘Regard that woman
    Who hesitates toward you in the light of the door
    Which opens on her like a grin.
    You see the border of her dress
    Is torn and stained with sand,
    And you see the corner of her eye
    Twists like a crooked pin.’

    The memory throws up high and dry
    A crowd of twisted things;
    A twisted branch upon the beach
    Eaten smooth, and polished
    As if the world gave up
    The secret of its skeleton,

    Stiff and white.
    A broken spring in a factory yard,
    Rust that clings to the form that the strength has left
    Hard and curled and ready to snap.

    Half-past two,
    The street-lamp said,
    ‘Remark the cat which flattens itself in the gutter,
    Slips out its tongue
    And devours a morsel of rancid butter’
    So the hand of the child, automatic,
    Slipped out and pocketed a toy that was running along the quay.
    I could see nothing behllld that chlld’s eye.
    I have seen eyes in the street
    Trying to peer through lighted shutters,
    And a crab one afternoon in a pool,
    An old crab with barnacles on his back,
    Gripped the end of a stick which I held him.

    Half-past three,
    The lamp sputtered,
    The lamp muttered in the dark.
    The lamp hummed:
    ‘Regard the moon,
    La lune ne garde aucune rancune,
    She winks a feeble eye,
    She smiles into corners.
    She smooths the hair of the grass.
    The moon has lost her memory.
    A washed-out smallpox cracks her face,
    Her hand twists a paper rose,
    That smells of dust and eau de Cologne,
    She is alone
    With all the old nocturnal smells
    That cross and cross across her brain.’
    The reminiscence comes
    Of sunless dry geramums
    And dust in crevices,
    Smells of chestnuts in the streets,
    And female smells in shuttered rooms,
    And Cigarettes in corridors
    And cocktail smells in bars.

    The lamp said,
    ‘Four o’clock,
    Here is the number on the door.
    Memory!
    You have the key,
    The little lamp spreads a ring on the stair.
    Mount.
    The bed is open, the tooth-brush hangs on the wall,
    Put your shoes at the door, sleep, prepare for life.’

    The last twist of the knife.

     

    ****

     

     

     

     

     

     

    t s eliot

     

     

    Thomas Stearns Eliot, OM(The Order of Merit (French: Ordre du Mérite)) (26 September 1888 – 4 January 1965) was a British essayist, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic, and “one of the twentieth century’s major poets”. He moved from his native United States to England in 1914 at the age of 25, settling, working, and marrying there. He eventually became a British subject in 1927 at the age of 39, renouncing his American citizenship.

    He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”.

     

    -from wikipedia

     

    [The cover featured image credit:  By Edwardx – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,  https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=37942343]

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