A Collection of Poems: Of Family, Friends, Places and Times

For the next seven months, he trained at Hare Hall Camp in Essex.

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He fell into a shell hole and suffered concussion; he was blown up by a trench mortar and spent several days unconscious on an embankment lying amongst the remains of one of his fellow officers. Soon afterward, Owen was diagnosed as suffering from neurasthenia or shell shock and sent to Craiglockhart War Hospital in Edinburgh for treatment. It was while recuperating at Craiglockhart that he met fellow poet Siegfried Sassoon , an encounter that was to transform Owen's life.

Whilst at Craiglockhart he made friends in Edinburgh's artistic and literary circles, and did some teaching at the Tynecastle High School , in a poor area of the city. In November he was discharged from Craiglockhart, judged fit for light regimental duties. His 25th birthday was spent quietly at Ripon Cathedral , which is dedicated to his namesake, St. Owen returned in July , to active service in France, although he might have stayed on home-duty indefinitely.

His decision to return was probably the result of Sassoon's being sent back to England, after being shot in the head in an apparent " friendly fire " incident, and put on sick-leave for the remaining duration of the war.

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Owen saw it as his duty to add his voice to that of Sassoon, that the horrific realities of the war might continue to be told. Sassoon was violently opposed to the idea of Owen returning to the trenches, threatening to "stab [him] in the leg" if he tried it. Aware of his attitude, Owen did not inform him of his action until he was once again in France. At the very end of August , Owen returned to the front line - perhaps imitating Sassoon's example. On 1 October Owen led units of the Second Manchesters to storm a number of enemy strong points near the village of Joncourt.

For his courage and leadership in the Joncourt action, he was awarded the Military Cross , an award he had always sought in order to justify himself as a war poet, but the award was not gazetted until 15 February On the company commander becoming a casualty, he assumed command and showed fine leadership and resisted a heavy counter-attack.

He personally manipulated a captured enemy machine gun from an isolated position and inflicted considerable losses on the enemy. Throughout he behaved most gallantly. Owen was killed in action on 4 November during the crossing of the Sambre—Oise Canal , exactly one week almost to the hour before the signing of the Armistice which ended the war, and was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant the day after his death. His mother received the telegram informing her of his death on Armistice Day , as the church bells in Shrewsbury were ringing out in celebration. Owen is regarded by many as the greatest poet of the First World War, [20] known for his verse about the horrors of trench and gas warfare.

He had been writing poetry for some years before the war, himself dating his poetic beginnings to a stay at Broxton by the Hill when he was ten years old. His great friend, the poet Siegfried Sassoon, later had a profound effect on his poetic voice, and Owen's most famous poems "Dulce et Decorum est" and "Anthem for Doomed Youth" show direct results of Sassoon's influence.

Manuscript copies of the poems survive, annotated in Sassoon's handwriting. Owen's poetry would eventually be more widely acclaimed than that of his mentor. While his use of pararhyme with heavy reliance on assonance was innovative, he was not the only poet at the time to use these particular techniques. He was, however, one of the first to experiment with it extensively. Anthem for Doomed Youth What passing-bells for these who die as cattle? Only the monstrous anger of the guns. Only the stuttering rifles' rapid rattle Can patter out their hasty orisons.

No mockeries now for them; no prayers nor bells, Nor any voice of mourning save the choirs, - The shrill, demented choirs of wailing shells; And bugles calling for them from sad shires. What candles may be held to speed them all? Not in the hands of boys, but in their eyes Shall shine the holy glimmers of goodbyes.

The pallor of girls' brows shall be their pall; Their flowers the tenderness of patient minds, And each slow dusk a drawing down of blinds. His poetry itself underwent significant changes in As a part of his therapy at Craiglockhart, Owen's doctor, Arthur Brock, encouraged Owen to translate his experiences, specifically the experiences he relived in his dreams, into poetry. Sassoon, who was becoming influenced by Freudian psychoanalysis , aided him here, showing Owen through example what poetry could do.

Sassoon's use of satire influenced Owen, who tried his hand at writing "in Sassoon's style". Further, the content of Owen's verse was undeniably changed by his work with Sassoon. Sassoon's emphasis on realism and "writing from experience" was contrary to Owen's hitherto romantic-influenced style, as seen in his earlier sonnets. Owen was to take both Sassoon's gritty realism and his own romantic notions and create a poetic synthesis that was both potent and sympathetic, as summarised by his famous phrase "the pity of war".

In this way, Owen's poetry is quite distinctive, and he is, by many, considered a greater poet than Sassoon.

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Nonetheless, Sassoon contributed to Owen's popularity by his strong promotion of his poetry, both before and after Owen's death, and his editing was instrumental in the making of Owen as a poet. Owen's poems had the benefit of strong patronage, and it was a combination of Sassoon's influence, support from Edith Sitwell , and the preparation of a new and fuller edition of the poems in by Edmund Blunden that ensured his popularity, coupled with a revival of interest in his poetry in the s which plucked him out of a relatively exclusive readership into the public eye.

There were many other influences on Owen's poetry, including his mother. His letters to her provide an insight into Owen's life at the front, and the development of his philosophy regarding the war. Graphic details of the horror Owen witnessed were never spared.

Owen's experiences with religion also heavily influenced his poetry, notably in poems such as "Anthem for Doomed Youth", in which the ceremony of a funeral is re-enacted not in a church, but on the battlefield itself, and " At a Calvary near the Ancre ", which comments on the Crucifixion of Christ. Owen's experiences in war led him further to challenge his religious beliefs, claiming in his poem "Exposure" that "love of God seems dying".

Only five of Owen's poems were published before his death, one in fragmentary form. However, most of them were published posthumously: Owen's full unexpurgated opus is in the academic two-volume work The Complete Poems and Fragments by Jon Stallworthy. Many of his poems have never been published in popular form. Harold Owen, Wilfred's sister-in-law, donated all of the manuscripts, photographs and letters which her late husband had owned to the University of Oxford 's English Faculty Library. These can be accessed by any member of the public on application in advance to the English Faculty librarian.

An important turning point in Owen scholarship occurred in when the New Statesman published a stinging polemic 'The Truth Untold' by Jonathan Cutbill, [23] the literary executor of Edward Carpenter , which attacked the academic suppression of Owen as a poet of homosexual experience. Owen held Siegfried Sassoon in an esteem not far from hero-worship, remarking to his mother that he was "not worthy to light [Sassoon's] pipe".

The relationship clearly had a profound impact on Owen, who wrote in his first letter to Sassoon after leaving Craiglockhart "You have fixed my life — however short". Sassoon wrote that he took "an instinctive liking to him", [25] and recalled their time together "with affection".

He was stationed on home-duty in Scarborough for several months, during which time he associated with members of the artistic circle into which Sassoon had introduced him, which included Robbie Ross and Robert Graves. He also met H. Wells and Arnold Bennett , and it was during this period he developed the stylistic voice for which he is now recognised. A blue tourist plaque on the hotel marks its association with Owen.

Robert Graves [27] and Sacheverell Sitwell [28] who also personally knew him stated that Owen was homosexual , and homoeroticism is a central element in much of Owen's poetry. Scott Moncrieff , the translator of Marcel Proust. This contact broadened Owen's outlook, and increased his confidence in incorporating homoerotic elements into his work. Throughout Owen's lifetime and for decades after, homosexual activity between men was a punishable offence in British law, and the account of Owen's sexual development has been somewhat obscured because his brother Harold removed what he considered discreditable passages in Owen's letters and diaries after the death of their mother.

Sassoon and Owen kept in touch through correspondence, and after Sassoon was shot in the head in July and sent back to England to recover, they met in August and spent what Sassoon described as "the whole of a hot cloudless afternoon together. About three weeks later, Owen wrote to bid Sassoon farewell, as he was on the way back to France, and they continued to communicate.

After the Armistice, Sassoon waited in vain for word from Owen, only to be told of his death several months later. The loss grieved Sassoon greatly, and he was never "able to accept that disappearance philosophically. The Poetry is in the pity. The Dry Salvages treats the element of water, via images of river and sea. It strives to contain opposites: Little Gidding the element of fire is the most anthologised of the Quartets. Eliot's experiences as an air raid warden in the Blitz power the poem, and he imagines meeting Dante during the German bombing.

From this background, the Quartets end with an affirmation of Julian of Norwich: The Four Quartets cannot be understood without reference to Christian thought, traditions, and history. Eliot draws upon the theology, art, symbolism and language of such figures as Dante, and mystics St. John of the Cross and Julian of Norwich.

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The "deeper communion" sought in East Coker , the "hints and whispers of children, the sickness that must grow worse in order to find healing", and the exploration which inevitably leads us home all point to the pilgrim's path along the road of sanctification. With the important exception of Four Quartets , Eliot directed much of his creative energies after Ash Wednesday to writing plays in verse, mostly comedies or plays with redemptive endings.

In a lecture he said "Every poet would like, I fancy, to be able to think that he had some direct social utility. He would like to be something of a popular entertainer, and be able to think his own thoughts behind a tragic or a comic mask. He would like to convey the pleasures of poetry, not only to a larger audience, but to larger groups of people collectively; and the theatre is the best place in which to do it.

After The Waste Land , he wrote that he was "now feeling toward a new form and style". One project he had in mind was writing a play in verse, using some of the rhythms of early jazz. The play featured "Sweeney", a character who had appeared in a number of his poems. Although Eliot did not finish the play, he did publish two scenes from the piece. These scenes, titled Fragment of a Prologue and Fragment of an Agon , were published together in as Sweeney Agonistes.

Although Eliot noted that this was not intended to be a one-act play, it is sometimes performed as one. A pageant play by Eliot called The Rock was performed in for the benefit of churches in the Diocese of London. Much of it was a collaborative effort; Eliot accepted credit only for the authorship of one scene and the choruses. Martin Browne for the production of The Rock , and later commissioned Eliot to write another play for the Canterbury Festival in This one, Murder in the Cathedral , concerning the death of the martyr, Thomas Becket , was more under Eliot's control.

Eliot biographer Peter Ackroyd comments that "for [Eliot], Murder in the Cathedral and succeeding verse plays offered a double advantage; it allowed him to practice poetry but it also offered a convenient home for his religious sensibility. Regarding his method of playwriting, Eliot explained, "If I set out to write a play, I start by an act of choice. I settle upon a particular emotional situation, out of which characters and a plot will emerge. And then lines of poetry may come into being: Eliot also made significant contributions to the field of literary criticism , strongly influencing the school of New Criticism.

He was somewhat self-deprecating and minimising of his work and once said his criticism was merely a "by-product" of his "private poetry-workshop" But the critic William Empson once said, "I do not know for certain how much of my own mind [Eliot] invented, let alone how much of it is a reaction against him or indeed a consequence of misreading him. He is a very penetrating influence, perhaps not unlike the east wind.

In his critical essay " Tradition and the Individual Talent ", Eliot argues that art must be understood not in a vacuum, but in the context of previous pieces of art. Eliot himself employed this concept on many of his works, especially on his long-poem The Waste Land. Also important to New Criticism was the idea—as articulated in Eliot's essay " Hamlet and His Problems "—of an " objective correlative ", which posits a connection among the words of the text and events, states of mind, and experiences.

More generally, New Critics took a cue from Eliot in regard to his "'classical' ideals and his religious thought; his attention to the poetry and drama of the early seventeenth century; his deprecation of the Romantics, especially Shelley; his proposition that good poems constitute 'not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion'; and his insistence that 'poets Eliot's essays were a major factor in the revival of interest in the metaphysical poets.

Eliot particularly praised the metaphysical poets' ability to show experience as both psychological and sensual, while at the same time infusing this portrayal with—in Eliot's view—wit and uniqueness. Eliot's essay "The Metaphysical Poets", along with giving new significance and attention to metaphysical poetry, introduced his now well-known definition of "unified sensibility", which is considered by some to mean the same thing as the term "metaphysical".

His poem The Waste Land [81] also can be better understood in light of his work as a critic. He had argued that a poet must write "programmatic criticism", that is, a poet should write to advance his own interests rather than to advance "historical scholarship". Viewed from Eliot's critical lens, The Waste Land likely shows his personal despair about World War I rather than an objective historical understanding of it.

Late in his career, Eliot focused much of his creative energy on writing for the theatre; some of his earlier critical writing, in essays such as "Poetry and Drama," [83] "Hamlet and his Problems," [77] and "The Possibility of a Poetic Drama," [84] focused on the aesthetics of writing drama in verse.

Alfred Prufrock", "Portrait of a Lady", "La Figlia Che Piange", "Preludes", and "Rhapsody on a Windy Night" had "[an] effect [that] was both unique and compelling, and their assurance staggered [Eliot's] contemporaries who were privileged to read them in manuscript. The wholeness is there, from the very beginning. The initial critical response to Eliot's "The Waste Land" was mixed. Bush notes that the piece was at first correctly perceived as a work of jazz-like syncopation—and, like s jazz , essentially iconoclastic.

Edmund Wilson, being one of the critics who praised Eliot, called him "one of our only authentic poets". In regard to "The Waste Land", Wilson admits its flaws "its lack of structural unity" , but concluded, "I doubt whether there is a single other poem of equal length by a contemporary American which displays so high and so varied a mastery of English verse. Charles Powell was negative in his criticism of Eliot, calling his poems incomprehensible. For instance, though Ransom negatively criticised "The Waste Land" for its "extreme disconnection", Ransom was not completely condemnatory of Eliot's work and admitted that Eliot was a talented poet.

Addressing some of the common criticisms directed against "The Waste Land" at the time, Gilbert Seldes stated, "It seems at first sight remarkably disconnected and confused Eliot's reputation as a poet, as well as his influence in the academy, peaked following the publication of The Four Quartets. In an essay on Eliot published in , the writer Cynthia Ozick refers to this peak of influence from the s through the early s as "the Age of Eliot" when Eliot "seemed pure zenith, a colossus, nothing less than a permanent luminary, fixed in the firmament like the sun and the moon".

As Eliot's conservative religious and political convictions began to seem less congenial in the postwar world, other readers reacted with suspicion to his assertions of authority, obvious in Four Quartets and implicit in the earlier poetry. The result, fueled by intermittent rediscovery of Eliot's occasional anti-Semitic rhetoric, has been a progressive downward revision of his once towering reputation.

Bush also notes that Eliot's reputation "slipped" significantly further after his death. He writes, "Sometimes regarded as too academic William Carlos Williams 's view , Eliot was also frequently criticized for a deadening neoclassicism as he himself—perhaps just as unfairly—had criticized Milton. However, the multifarious tributes from practicing poets of many schools published during his centenary in was a strong indication of the intimidating continued presence of his poetic voice. Although Eliot's poetry is not as influential as it once was, notable literary scholars, like Harold Bloom [92] and Stephen Greenblatt , [93] still acknowledge that Eliot's poetry is central to the literary English canon.

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For instance, the editors of The Norton Anthology of English Literature write, "There is no disagreement on [Eliot's] importance as one of the great renovators of the English poetry dialect, whose influence on a whole generation of poets, critics, and intellectuals generally was enormous. The depiction of Jews in some of Eliot's poems has led several critics to accuse him of anti-Semitism. This case has been presented most forcefully in a study by Anthony Julius: Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form Bleistein with a Cigar".

In this poem, Eliot wrote, "The rats are underneath the piles. It reaches out like a clear signal to the reader. In a series of lectures delivered at the University of Virginia in , published under the title After Strange Gods: A Primer of Modern Heresy , Eliot wrote of societal tradition and coherence, "What is still more important [than cultural homogeneity] is unity of religious background, and reasons of race and religion combine to make any large number of free-thinking Jews undesirable.

Craig Raine , in his books In Defence of T. Eliot and T. Eliot , sought to defend Eliot from the charge of anti-Semitism. Reviewing the book, Paul Dean stated that he was not convinced by Raine's argument. Nevertheless, he concluded, "Ultimately, as both Raine and, to do him justice, Julius insist, however much Eliot may have been compromised as a person, as we all are in our several ways, his greatness as a poet remains.

Eliot's well-earned reputation [as a poet] is established beyond all doubt, and making him out to be as unflawed as the Archangel Gabriel does him no favours. Eliot's influence extends beyond the English language. Below are a partial list of honours and awards received by T. Eliot or bestowed or created in his honour. These honours are displayed in order of precedence based on Eliot's nationality and rules of protocol, not awarding date. Retrieved 25 February From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.

For other people named Thomas Eliot, see Thomas Eliot disambiguation. The Love Song of J. Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats. Facsimile Edition Inventions of the March Hare: Eliot's Life and Career. John A Garraty and Mark C. Oxford University Press, Retrieved 26 April Nobel Lectures, Literature — Elsevier Publishing Company, , accessed 6 March The Modernist in History New York, , p. Louis University Libraries, Inc.

Literature and Language , no. Washington University Press, , p. The Art of Poetry No. Eliot and Alien Cultures: Eliot, The World Fair of St. Louis and "Autonomy" , Nagoya: Kougaku Shuppan , pp. Eliot", American Literary Scholarship , , p. Eliot's Life and Career".

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  7. Retrieved 1 December On the Significance of T. Eliot , Knopf Publishing Group, p. The Letters of T. Eliot, Volume 1, — Random House, , p. A Life of Vivienne Eliot. Knopf Publishing Group, , p. Retrieved 26 October Voices and Visions Series.

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    New York Center of Visual History: Eliot to For Lancelot Andrewes: Essays on style and order On Poetry and Poets. The Modernist in History , p. Where Emily Hale and Vivienne were part of Eliot's private phantasmagoria, Mary Trevelyan played her part in what was essentially a public friendship. She was Eliot's escort for nearly twenty years until his second marriage in A brainy woman, with the bracing organizational energy of a Florence Nightingale, she propped the outer structure of Eliot's life, but for him she, too, represented.. Eliot, and Humanism , , p.

    For her their friendship was a commitment; for Eliot quite peripheral. His passion for immortality was so commanding that it allowed him to Eliot — A Twenty-first Century View , p. Eliot's widow Valerie Eliot dies at 86". Associated Press via Yahoo News. Retrieved 12 November Books on Google Play T. The Critical Heritage, Volume 1. Retrieved 3 January Retrieved 23 November Woods, April 21, Harcourt Brace, , p.

    The Harvard Advocate Poems''. Retrieved 5 February ". Retrieved 3 August Archived from the original PDF on 3 October Retrieved 7 November Eliot and Indic Traditions: A Study in Poetry and Belief". Retrieved 8 March Retrieved 23 April Wagner omits the word "very" from the quote. Pennsylvania State University Press. Hartcourt Brace, , pp. Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Retrieved 27 July And I Tiresias have foresuffered all The Waste Land And Criticism". Faber And Faber Limited. Retrieved 26 January — via Internet Archive. Essays on Poetry and Criticism. Retrieved 26 January Carnes eds , American National Biography.

    Books and Schools of the Ages. Stephen Greenblatt, et al. Eliot, Anti-Semitism, and Literary Form. The New York Times. Retrieved 9 April Retrieved 7 June Eliot on Literary Morals: Eliot, The Rock London: Faber and Faber, , University of Michigan Press, , p. Eliot Dies in London". This Day in History. Retrieved 16 February The Order of Canada: Its Origins, History, and Development. University of Toronto Press. Kougaku Shuppan, , 21— Eliot's Penny World of Dreams: An Essay in the Interpretation of T. The Enduring Legacy of T. A Study in Character and Style.

    In Prehistories of the Future , ed. The Savage and the City in the Work of T. Eliot", The Guardian Review. Cornell University Press, Eliot, in Life and Letters , June The Art of T. Where the Dreams Cross: Eliot and French Poetry.