The Art of T.S. Eliot by Helen Gardner


The Art of T.S. Eliot by Helen Gardner focuses on the poetic style and images of Eliot’s work. The author sees his earlier work only as preparing him for his masterpiece, “Four Quartets”, which she identifies as a turning point in his work.

The real world did not reflect all that Eliot believed about the spiritual world where he saw hope for redemption. His poems were about art, old age, regret and redemption. His hope, in a religious sense, was that the making of art was the highest justification of human life. These are poems of self-examination and regret where art helped fill the need for penance.

Gardner's says of Eliot’s earlier work that he often imitated the voices of other poets but then moves on to a more independent style. He wrote “The Waste Land,” in a way that underscored the musicality inherent in natural rhythms.  This thematic evolution did not overshadow his core ideas which seem best understood in the Quartets.

Eliot’s famous quote: “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,”,

This leaves a question: Did Eliot move onto plays after his poetry because after the Quartets he had nothing left to say? Maybe he really did feel he arrived at where he started?

T.S. Eliot Quotes


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

Do I dare disturb the universe?