146+ Best TS Eliot Quotes: Exclusive Selection

Thomas Stearns Eliot OM was a poet, essayist, publisher, playwright, and literary and social critic. Profoundly inspirational TS Eliot quotes will encourage growth in life, make you wiser and broaden your perspective.

If you’re searching for poetry quotes that perfectly capture what you’d like to say or just want to feel inspired yourself, browse through an amazing collection of quotes from Walt Whitman, powerful Sylvia Plath quotes and famous William Blake quotes.

Famous TS Eliot Quotes

A good half of the effort of understanding what the Indian philosophers were after and their subtleties make most of the great European philosophers look like schoolboys. – TS Eliot

Now that lilacs are in bloom She has a bowl of lilacs in her room And twists one in her fingers while she talks. Ah, my friend, you do not know, you do not know What life is, you who hold it in your hands; (slowly twisting the lilac stalks) You let it flow from you, you let it flow, And youth is cruel, and has no remorse And smiles at situations which it cannot see. I smile, of course, And go on drinking tea. – TS Eliot

A national culture, if it is to flourish, should be a constellation of cultures, the constitutes of which, benefiting each other, benefit the whole. – TS Eliot

When comparing works of art, it is important that the art itself, and not the artists, be considered. – TS Eliot

So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. – TS Eliot

In the faint moonlight, the grass is singing – TS Eliot

Where shall the word be found, where will the word / Resound? Not here, there is not enough silence. – TS Eliot

life is long between the desire and the spasm. – TS 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. – TS Eliot

You have to risk going too far to discover just how far you can really go. – TS Eliot

The tendency of liberals is to create bodies of men and women-of all classes-detached from tradition, alienated from religion, and susceptible to mass suggestion-mob rule. And a mob will be no less a mob if it is well fed, well clothed, well housed, and well disciplined. – TS Eliot

But it seems that something has happened that has never happened before: though we know not just when, or why, or how, or where. – TS Eliot

All time is unreedemable. – TS Eliot

What is true, is true only for one time and only for one place. – TS Eliot

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

And right action is freedom From past and future also. – TS Eliot

Not the intense moment Isolated, with no before and after, But a lifetime burning in every moment. – TS Eliot

At the still point of the turning world.Neither flesh nor fleshless;Neither from nor towards;at the still point, there the dance is, But neither arrest nor movement.And do not all it fixity, Where past and future are gathered.Neither movement from nor towards, Neither ascent nor decline.Except for the point, the still point, There would be no dance, and there is only the dance. – TS Eliot

We learn what poetry is if we ever learn by reading it. – TS Eliot

There is no absolute point of view from which real and ideal can be finally separated and labelled. – TS Eliot

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

Again I must remind you that a dog’s a dog a cat’s a cat. – TS Eliot

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

Between the idea And the reality Between the motion And the act Falls the Shadow – TS Eliot

When we read of human beings behaving in certain ways, with the approval of the author, who gives his benediction to this behavior by his attitude towards the result of the behavior arranged by himself, we can be influenced towards behaving in the same way. – TS 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. – TS Eliot

The fool,fixed in his folly,may think He can turn the wheel on which he turns. – TS Eliot

You can evade life, but you can not evade Death. – TS Eliot

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

Art is the escape from personality. – TS Eliot

When war is not just it is subsequently justified; so it becomes many things. In reality, an unjust war is merely piracy. It consists of piracy, ego and, more than anything, money. War is our century’s prostitution. – TS Eliot

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

The majority of mankind is lazyminded, incurious, absorbed in vanities, and tepid in emotion, and is therefore incapable of either much doubt or much faith. – TS Eliot

At the still point, there the dance is. – TS Eliot

Half of the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm. But the harm does not interest them. – TS Eliot

Poetry is not an assertion of truth, but the making of that truth more fully real to us. – TS 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. – TS Eliot

Accident is design and design is accident in a cloud of unknowing. – TS Eliot

April is the cruelest month, breeding lilacs out of the dead land, mixing memory and desire, stirring dull roots with spring rain. – TS Eliot

In a world of fugitives, the person taking the opposite direction will appear to run away. – TS Eliot

Survival is your strength not your shame. – TS Eliot

What profession is more trying than that of author? After you finish a piece of work it only seems good to you for a few weeks; or if it seems good at all you are convinced that it is the last you will be able to write; and if it seems bad you wonder whether everything you have done isn’t poor stuff really; and it is one kind of agony while you are writing, and another kind when you aren’t. – TS Eliot

The destination cannot be described; / You will know very little until you get there; / You will journey blind. – TS Eliot

Most of the trouble in the world is caused by people wanting to be important. – TS Eliot

Humility is the most difficult of all virtues to achieve; nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of self. – TS Eliot

If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are? – TS 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. – TS Eliot

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

Lord, deliver me from the man of excellent intention and impure heart: for the heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked. – TS Eliot

Between the vision and the act lies the shadow. – TS Eliot

The more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers and the mind which creates. – TS Eliot

Maturing as a poet means maturing as the whole man, experiencing new emotions appropriate to one’s age, and with the same intensity as the emotions of youth. – TS Eliot

Do I dare disturb the universe? – TS Eliot

Every nation, every race, has not only its own creative, but its own critical turn of mind; and is even more oblivious of the shortcomings and limitations of its critical habits than of those of its creative genius. – TS Eliot

Liberty is a different kind of pain from prison. – TS Eliot

We are being made aware that the organization of society on the principle of private profit, as well as public destruction, is leading both to the deformation of humanity by unregulated industrialism, and to the exhaustion of natural resources, and that a good deal of our material progress is a progress for which succeeding generations may have to pay dearly. – TS Eliot

Fare forward, travellers! not escaping from the past Into different lives, or into any future; You are not the same people who left that station Or who will arrive at any terminus, While the narrowing rails slide together behind you. – TS 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? – TS Eliot

Every moment is a fresh beginning. – TS Eliot

Bad poets imitate, good poets steal. – TS Eliot

And all shall be well and all manner of thing shall be well by the purification of the motive in the ground of our beseeching – TS 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. – TS Eliot

Finding a way to live the simple life is one of life’s supreme complications. – TS Eliot

My greatest trouble is getting the curtain up and down. – TS Eliot

Where is all the knowledge we lost with information? – TS Eliot

The greatest proof of Christianity for others is not how far a man can logically analyze his reasons for believing, but how far in practice he will stake his life on his belief. – TS Eliot

Destiny a word which means more than we can find any definitions for. It is a word which can have no meaning in a mechanical universe: if that which is wound up must run down, what destiny is there in that? Destiny is not necessitarianism, and it is not caprice: it is something essentially meaningful. Each man has his destiny, though some men are undoubtedly men of destiny in a sense in which most men are not. – TS Eliot

Justice itself tends to be corrupted by political passion. – TS Eliot

In our rhythm of earthly life we tire of light. We are glad when the day ends, when the play ends; and ecstasy is too much pain. – TS Eliot

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

Old men ought to be explorers. – TS Eliot

War is not a life: it is a situation, one which may neither be ignored nor accepted. – TS Eliot

A heap of broken images, where the sun beats, And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief, And the dry stone no sound of water. Only There is shadow under this red rock, (Come in under the shadow of this red rock), 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. – TS Eliot

Poetry may make us from time to time a little more aware of the deeper, unnamed feelings which form the substratum of our being, to which we rarely penetrate; for our lives are mostly a constant evasion of ourselves. – TS Eliot

No university ought to be merely a national institution….The universities should have their common ideals, they should have their common obligations toward each other. They should be independent of the governments of the countries in which they are situated. They should not be institutions for the training of an efficient bureaucracy, or for equipping scientists to get the better of foreign scientists; they should stand for the preservation of learning, for the pursuit of truth, and in so far as men are capable of it, the attainment of wisdom. – TS Eliot

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

The True Church can never fail. For it is based upon a rock. – TS Eliot

The young feel tired at the end of an action, the old at the beginning. – TS Eliot

If you haven’t the strength to impose your own terms upon life, then you must accept the terms it offers you. – TS Eliot

We die to each other daily. What we know of other people is only our memory of the moments during which we knew them. And they have changed since then. To pretend that they and we are the same is a useful and convenient social convention which must sometimes be broken. We must also remember that at every meeting we are meeting a stranger. – TS Eliot

The darkness declares the glory of light. – TS Eliot

Yeats was the greatest poet of our times certainly the greatest in this language, and so far as I am able to judge, in any language. – TS Eliot

In the life of one man, never The same time returns. – TS Eliot

It is only in the world of objects that we have time and space and selves. – TS Eliot

The Nobel is a ticket to one’s own funeral. No one has ever done anything after he got it. – TS Eliot

Everyone’s alone – or so it seems to me. They make noises, and think they are talking to each other; They make faces, and think they understand each other. And I’m sure they don’t. Is that a delusion? – TS 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. – TS Eliot

The only hope, or else despair Lies in the choice of pyre or pyre – To be redeemed from fire by fire. – TS Eliot

All time is eternal, moving inexorably toward an end which we believe is a result of our actions, but over which our control is mere illusion. – TS Eliot

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

Art never improves, but the material of art is never quite the same. – TS Eliot

Home is where one starts from. – TS Eliot

Men have left GOD not for other gods, they say, but for no God; and this has never happened before. – TS Eliot

The definition of hell is a place where nothing connects with nothing. – TS Eliot

The journey, Not the destination matters. – TS Eliot

The sense of wellbeing! Its often with us When we are young, but then it’s not noticed; And by the time one has grown to consciousness It comes less often. – TS Eliot

A thousand policemen directing traffic cannot tell you why you come or where you go. – TS Eliot

The naming of cats is a difficult matter. It isn’t just one of your holiday games. You may think at first I’m mad as a hatter. When I tell you a cat must have three different names. – TS Eliot

The role of art is not to express the personality but to overcome it. – TS Eliot

One thing you cannot know: The sudden extinction of every alternative, The unexpected crash of the iron cataract. You do not know what hope is, until you have lost it. You only know what it is not to hope: You do not know what it is to have hope taken from you Or to fling it away, to join the legion of the hopeless Unrecognized by other men, though sometimes by each other. – TS Eliot

The last thing one discovers in composing a work is what to put first. – TS Eliot

The hint half guessed, the gift half understood, is Incarnation. – TS Eliot

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

I do not believe that any writer has ever exposed this bovarysme, the human will to see things as they are not, more clearly than Shakespeare. – TS Eliot

If we really want to pray we must first learn to listen, for in the silence of the heart God speaks. – TS Eliot

It is not enough to understand what we ought to be, unless we know what we are; and we do not understand what we are, unless we know what we ought to be. – TS Eliot

What is this self-inside us, this silent observer, severe and speechless critic, who can terrorize us, and urge us onto futile activity, and in the end, judge us still more severely for the errors into which his own reproaches drove us? – TS Eliot

Between the desire And the spasm, Between the potency And the existence, Between the essence And the descent, Falls the Shadow. – TS Eliot

It’s not wise to violate rules until you know how to observe them. – TS Eliot

To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man’s life. – TS Eliot

To make an end is to make a beginning. – TS Eliot

As we grow older, the world becomes stranger, the pattern more complicated of dead and living. – TS Eliot

I believe the moment of birth Is when we have knowledge of death I believe the season of birth Is the season of sacrifice. – TS Eliot

Any poet, if he is to survive beyond his 25th year, must alter; he must seek new literary influences; he will have different emotions to express. – TS Eliot

I said to my soul, be still and wait without hope, for hope would be hope for the wrong thing; wait without love, for love would be love of the wrong thing; there is yet faith, but the faith and the love are all in the waiting. Wait without thought, for you are not ready for thought: So the darkness shall be the light, and the stillness the dancing. – TS 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. – TS 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. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things. – TS Eliot

Only by acceptance of the past, can you alter it – TS Eliot

I hate university towns and university people, who are the same everywhere, with pregnant wives, sprawling children, many books and hideous pictures on the walls … Oxford is very pretty, but I don’t like to be dead. – TS Eliot

You do not know how much they mean to me, my friends, And how, how rare and strange it is, to find In a life composed so much, so much of odds and ends, (For indeed I do not love it you knew? you are not blind! How keen you are!) To find a friend who has these qualities, Who has, and gives Those qualities upon which friendship lives. How much it means that I say this to you. Without these friendships-life, what cauchemar! – TS Eliot

Death has a hundred hands and walks by a thousand ways. – TS Eliot

Teach us to care and not to care Teach us to sit still. Pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death Pray for us now and at the hour of our death. – TS Eliot

Art serves us best precisely at that point where it can shift our sense of what is possible, when we know more than we knew before, when we feel we have – by some manner of a leap – encountered the truth. That, by the logic of art, is always worth the pain. – TS 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. – TS 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. – TS Eliot

It seems just possible that a poem might happen to a very young man: but a poem is not poetry -That is a life. – TS Eliot

Humor is also a way of saying something serious. – TS Eliot

It is impossible to design a system so perfect that no one needs to be good. – TS Eliot

Everyone gets the experience. Some get the lesson. – TS Eliot

Every moment is a new and shocking transvaluation of all we have ever been. – TS Eliot

There is, it seems to us, At best, only a limited value In the knowledge derived from experience. – TS Eliot

You gave me hyacinths first a year ago; They called me the hyacinth girl.’ Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden, Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither Living nor dead, and I knew nothing, Looking into the heart of light, the silence. Od’ und leer das Meer. – TS Eliot

We do not pass twice through the same door Or return to the door through which we did not pass. – TS Eliot

Every phrase and every sentence is an end and a beginning, every poem an epitaph. – TS Eliot

As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug’s game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: He may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing. – TS Eliot

The lot of man is ceaseless labor, Or ceaseless idleness, which is still harder. – TS Eliot

Never commit yourself to a cheese without having first examined it. – TS Eliot

If you do not push the boundaries, you will never know where they are. – TS Eliot

Friendship should be more than biting time can sever. – TS Eliot

It is in fact a part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our own time – for we are bound by that – but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time. – TS Eliot

The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. – TS Eliot

Turn things you’ve always wanted to do, into things you’ve done – TS Eliot

Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood. – TS Eliot

If all time is eternally present, all time is unredeemable – TS Eliot

Culture is the one thing that we cannot deliberately aim at. It is the product of a variety of more or less harmonious activities, each pursued for its own sake. – TS Eliot

If you start with a bang, you won’t end with a whimper. – TS Eliot

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