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Inspirational quotes by T. S. Eliot on love, life, exploration, success, marriage, wisdom and other things.

100 Inspirational Quotes By T. S. Eliot, The Author Of Four Quartets

Quick Facts

Famous As: Poet

Born On: September 26, 1888

Died On: January 4, 1965

Born In: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Died At Age: 76

20th century Britain saw the emergence of one of the most ground-breaking poets in English literature in Thomas Stearns Eliot. An essayist, poet, publisher, playwright, literary and social critic by profession, Eliot first rose to prominence with his maiden poem, ‘The Love Story of J Alfred Prufrock’ attracted widespread attention. The poem was a masterpiece of the Modernist movement and was followed by equally successful poems including his magnum opus, ‘The Waste Land’, which became one of the most talked about poems in literary history, and others such as ‘The Hollow Men’, ‘Ash Wednesday’ and ‘Four Quartets’. It was for his outstanding contribution to modern day poetry that Eliot received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Literature. Most of his poems articulated the disillusionment of a younger post-World War I generation with the values and conventions, both literary and social, of the Victorian era. In addition to being a renowned poet, Eliot was an important playwright, whose verse dramas include ‘Murder in the Cathedral’, ‘The Family Reunion’, and ‘The Cocktail Party’. Eliot’s brilliance at words and thoughts is equally visible in his meaningful quotes that are sure to make you ponder. This collection of quotes by T S Eliot is sure to make you view life with a new perspective!

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For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice.

T S Eliot

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

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

This is the way the world ends Not with a bang but a whimper.

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

Do I dare Disturb the universe? In a minute there is time For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

T S Eliot

Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough.

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

For I have known them all already, known them all— Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons, I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

I will show you fear in a handful of dust.

T S Eliot

If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?

T S Eliot

There will be time, there will be time To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet.

T S Eliot

What is hell? 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

Humankind cannot bear very much reality.

T S Eliot

You are the music while the music lasts.

T S Eliot

Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow

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

Time for you and time for me, And time yet for a hundred indecisions, And for a hundred visions and revisions, Before the taking of a toast and tea.

T S Eliot

For last year's words belong to last year's language And next year's words await another voice. And to make an end is to make a beginning." (Little Gidding)

T S Eliot

Footfalls echo in the memory, down the passage we did not take, towards the door we never opened, into the rose garden.

T S Eliot

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.

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

Some editors are failed writers, but so are most writers.

T S Eliot

I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each. I do not think that they will sing to me.

T S Eliot

Anxiety is the handmaiden of creativity

T S Eliot

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown Till human voices wake us... and we drown.

T S Eliot

Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.

T S Eliot

These fragments I have shored against my ruins

T S Eliot

Love is most nearly itself When here and now cease to matter.

T S Eliot

Time present and time past Are both perhaps present in time future And time future contained in time past.

T S Eliot

It will do you no harm to find yourself ridiculous. Resign yourself to be the fool you are... ...We must always take risks. That is our destiny...

T S Eliot

Distracted from distraction by distraction

T S Eliot

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.

T S Eliot

Words strain, Crack and sometimes break, under the burden, Under the tension, slip, slide, perish, Decay with imprecision, will not stay in place, Will not stay still.

T S Eliot

Light Light The visible reminder of Invisible Light.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

The purpose of literature is to turn blood into ink.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

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.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

Do I dare Disturb the universe?

T S Eliot

Teach us to care and not to care

T S Eliot

We do not pass through the same door twice Or return to the door through which we did not pass

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

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

Humor is also a way of saying something serious.

T S Eliot

I should have been a pair of ragged claws/ Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

T S Eliot

I grow old … I grow old … I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

And I will show you something different from either Your shadow at morning striding behind you Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you I will show you fear in a handful of dust

T S Eliot

I can connect Nothing with nothing

T S Eliot

Music heard so deeply That it is not heard at all, but you are the music While the music lasts.

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

This love is silent.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

For you know only a heap of broken images

T S Eliot

No one can become really educated without having pursued some study in which he took no interest- for it is a part of education to learn to interest ourselves in subjects for which we have no aptitude.

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

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

Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance

T S Eliot

Unreal friendship may turn to real But real friendship, once ended, cannot be mended

T S Eliot

It's not wise to violate the rules until you know how to observe them.

T S Eliot

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.

T S Eliot

Men dislike being awakened from their death in life.

T S Eliot

Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in infomation?

T S Eliot

I am moved by fancies that are curled, around these images and cling, the notion of some infinitely gentle, infinitely suffering thing.

T S Eliot

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.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

Footfalls echo in the memory down the passage we did not take towards the door we never opened into the rose garden. My words echo thus, in your mind

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

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

Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it

T S Eliot

What have we given? My friend, blood shaking my heart The awful daring of a moment's surrender Which an age of prudence can never retract By this, and this only, we have existed.

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

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

T S Eliot

We ask only to be reassured About the noises in the cellar And the window that should not have been open

T S Eliot

Where is the Life we lost in living?

T S Eliot

There's no vocabulary For love within a family, love that's lived in But not looked at, love within the light of which All else is seen, the love within which All other love finds speech. This love is silent.

T S Eliot

And indeed there will be time to wonder, 'Do I dare?', and 'Do I dare?

T S Eliot

Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality but an escape from personality.

T S Eliot

I have measured out my life in coffee spoons.

T S Eliot

My mind may be American but my heart is British.

T S Eliot

The historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence

T S Eliot

Only through time time is conquered

T S Eliot

We must learn to suffer more.

T S Eliot

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

T S Eliot

Would it have been worth while, To have bitten off the matter with a smile, To have squeezed the universe into a ball To roll it towards some overwhelming question

T S Eliot

Of lovers whose bodies smell of each other Who think the same thoughts without need of speech

T S Eliot

I am glad you have a Cat, but I do not believe it is So remarkable a cat as My Cat.

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

Hell is oneself, Hell is alone.

T S Eliot

Till Human voices wake us, and we drown.

T S Eliot