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20 T.S. Eliot Quotes for Better Living and Creative Inspiration

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Modernist poet T.S. Eliot — cat lover, former French teacher, past Faber & Faber director, and literary critic — died on this day in 1965. But he’s still a beacon for artists of all kinds, seeking life-affirming advice and the occasional oblique message to ponder, so here are a few inspiring quotes from the Nobel Prize-winning master scribe.

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man.”

“Anxiety is the hand maiden of creativity.”

“For last year’s words belong to last year’s language And next year’s words await another voice.”

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.”

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

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

“I don’t believe one grows older. I think that what happens early on in life is that at a certain age one stands still and stagnates.”

“You are the music while the music lasts.”

“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.”

“There’s no vocabulary for love within a family, love that’s lived in but not looked at, love within the light of which all else is seen, the love within which all other love finds speech. This love is silent.”

“Keep true, never be ashamed of doing right; decide on what you think is right and stick to it.”

“If you aren’t in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

“Let’s not be narrow, nasty, and negative.”

“The most important thing for poets to do is to write as little as possible.”

“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.”

“There is no method but to be very intelligent.”

Poetry should help, not only to refine the language of the time, but to prevent it from changing too rapidly.”

“People to whom nothing has ever happened cannot understand the unimportance of events.”

“A play should give you something to think about. When I see a play and understand it the first time, then I know it can’t be much good.”