POEMS WRITTEN IN EARLY YOUTH by T.S. Eliot

POEMS WRITTEN IN EARLY YOUTH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Relics are a strange business. Pilgrims flock to Rome to observe some doubtful splinters from Christ's cross; in Indonesia a minor sect travels miles to hear three bells ring in a temple. Now graduate students have a sheaf of Eliot juvenilia to annotate or use as footnote fodder in yet another dissertation on the journey of Prufrock to Little Gidding. Written between Eliot's sixteenth and twenty-second birthdays, the earliest of these pieces are amiable confections in a mode Eliot, the combatant modernist, would later seek to discredit: Shelley, Tennyson and the Victorians, even Byron. But most of the ten Harvard undergraduate poems show Eliot veering towards the revolutionary interests of his first volume: the influence of Laforgue, Corbierre, and Baudelaire, and the resurrection of the Metaphysicals. The ironic precision, the cool colloquial cadence already suggest ""Conversation Gallant,"" ""Portrait of a Lady,"" and ""The Boston Evening Transcript."" The most interesting item, however, is ""The Death of Saint Narcissus,"" composed shortly after Harvard, in which can be found the genesis of a famous passage from The Waste Land as well as a slight hint of Ash Wednesday. All in all, the scholarly ants will have a feast.

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 1967
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux