T.S. Eliot

Thomas Stearns Eliot (1888-1965) began his spiritual enquiry as a young man. At university he studied comparative religions and the medieval mystics. His thinking was greatly influenced by the philosopher Bertrand Russell and the poet Ezra Pound. Eliot’s experimentation with forms of poetry were a kind of literary journey which may have reflected something of his spiritual journey. Termed ‘one of the major Christian poets of the 20th Century’(1), Eliot’s work on spiritual matters greatly appeals to me. I take pleasure from his ability with words and I am interested in the subject matter. The poem, The Hollow Men (1925) and two poems from The Ariel Poems collection (written and published ...

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serious illness and death can often make people focus sharply on the meaning of life. This could be said of the circumstances surrounding the writing of The Hollow Men, even if the ‘illumination’ simply highlighted a very dark time in Eliot’s life. The overriding image of humankind as ‘hollow men’ is powerful and depressing. In the context of a spiritual journey I would liken it to a ‘wilderness experience’. Like the children of Israel who came out of Egypt, Eliot seems to be without direction or hope. While the ‘hollow men’ are not totally empty, even their stuffing is dead grass: ‘Headpiece filled with straw. Alas!’ and they are lifeless: ‘Shape without form, shade without colour, paralysed force, gesture without motion.’ Life is meaningless and Death seems to be the master of both life and death: ‘death’s other kingdom’ I like the strength of the poetry here. Eliot juxtaposes strong ideas together, e.g. ‘paralysed force’ in such a way that they appear to cancel each other out, ...

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journeying could well have ended here. In Journey of The Magi and A Song for Simeon we find Eliot continuing on his spiritual quest. He seems to be slowly stepping forward, climbing and carefully building on previous experience. Both poems cover aspects of the journeying of biblical characters who are concerned with the arrival of the Christ-child, the Messiah. Both poems deal with the past, with a significant event, with the future (as seen from the time of that event) and with a time beyond time - death. I believe that these are some features common to a personal spiritual journey as experienced by T.S.Eliot. The Journey of the Magi is spoken by an old man. In the poem Eliot devotes ...

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Added: 4/4/2004 10:19:57 AM
Category: Biographies
Type: Free Paper
Words: 1974
Pages: 8

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