Quotations by Eliot, T. S.


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

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“East Coker” (1940), Four Quartets (1943)
Added on 20-Nov-09 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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The years between 50 and 70 are the hardest. … You are always being asked to do things, and yet you are not decrepit enough to turn them down.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“People,” Time (23 Oct 1950)
Added on 6-Oct-11 | Last updated 6-Oct-11
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Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“Philip Massinger,” The Sacred Wood (1920)
Added on 28-Apr-15 | Last updated 28-Apr-15
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Nothing dies harder than the desire to think well of oneself.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“Shakespeare and the Stoicism of Seneca” (1927)
Added on 20-Nov-13 | Last updated 20-Nov-13
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The responsibility of tolerance lies in those who have the wider vision.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Cocktail Party” (1949)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Half the harm that is done in this world
Is due to people who want to feel important.
They don’t mean to do harm

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Cocktail Party” (1949)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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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 (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Cocktail Party” (1949)
Added on 14-Aug-07 | Last updated 14-Aug-07
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This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Hollow Men” (1925)
Added on 24-Feb-04 | Last updated 24-Feb-04
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No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous —
Almost, at times, the Fool.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” (1917)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 17-Oct-16
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Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
“The Rock” (1934)
Added on 23-Jun-09 | Last updated 23-Jun-09
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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 (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
(Attributed)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
(Attributed)
Added on 19-Jun-14 | Last updated 19-Jun-14
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Most editors are failed writers — but so are most writers.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
(Attributed) (1946)

Quoted by Robert Geroux, "A Personal Memoir," in Tate, Allen, ed. T. S. Eliot: The Man and his Work (1967) (orig. printed in the Sewanee Review, vol. 74 (1966)): 

I first met T. S. Eliot in 1946, when I was an editor at Harcourt, Brace, under Frank Morley. I was just past thirty, and Eliot was in his late fifties. [...] agreed with the definition that most editors are failed writers, and he replied: `Perhaps, but so are most writers.'

Sometimes given as "Some editors ..." and prefixed with "I suppose most ..." and "I suppose some ..."

Added on 10-Nov-09 | Last updated 10-Nov-09
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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 (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Four Quartets, “Little Gidding” (1943)
Added on 2-Jan-09 | Last updated 2-Jan-09
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The last temptation is the greatest treason:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Murder in the Cathedral, Act 1 [Thomas] (1935)
    (Source)
Added on 15-May-17 | Last updated 15-May-17
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For some are sane and some are mad
And some are good and some are bad
And some are better, some are worse —
But all may be described in verse.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, “The Ad-dressing of Cats” (1939)
Added on 14-Aug-07 | Last updated 14-Aug-07
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Jellicle Cats come out tonight,
Jellicle Cats come one come all:
The Jellicle Moon is shining bright —
Jellicles come to the Jellicle Ball.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, “The Song of the Jellicles” (1939)
Added on 14-Aug-07 | Last updated 14-Aug-07
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Macavity, Macavity, there’s no one like Macavity,
There never was a Cat of such deceitfulness and suavity.
He always has an alibi, and one or two to spare;
At whatever time the deed took place — MACAVITY WASN’T THERE!

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats, “Macavity: The Mystery Cat” (1939)
Added on 22-Feb-13 | Last updated 26-Apr-16
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Success is relative:
It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
The Family Reunion, 2.3 (1939)
Added on 28-Nov-14 | Last updated 28-Nov-14
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Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
The Rock, Chorus (1934)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 1-Feb-04
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Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.

Eliot - too far - wist_info quote

T. S. Eliot (1888-1965) American-British poet, critic, playwright [Thomas Stearns Eliot]
Preface to Transit of Venus: Poems by Harry Crosby (1931)
Added on 1-Feb-04 | Last updated 2-Dec-15
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