The Poems of T. S. Eliot: The Annotated Text - Volume I & II

November 5th 2015 | Faber & Faber | Hardbacks

This defining edition of T. S. Eliot’s Poems establishes a new text of the Collected Poems 1909–1962, rectifying accidental omissions and errors that have crept in during the century since Eliot’s astonishing debut, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. As well as the masterpieces, the edition contains the poems of Eliot’s youth which were re-discovered only decades later, others that circulated privately during his lifetime, and love poems from his final years, written for his wife Valerie Eliot.

Editors Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue have provided an enthralling commentary which illuminates the imaginative life of each poem.  Calling upon Eliot’s critical writings, as well as his drafts, letters and other original materials, the editors illustrate not only the width of Eliot’s interests and the range of his writings, but how it was that the author of Gerontion came to write Triumphal March and then Four Quartets.

The first volume respects Eliot’s decisions by opening with his Collected Poems 1909–1962 in the form in which he issued it, shortly before his death fifty years ago. This is followed by poems uncollected but either written for or suitable for publication, and by a new reading text of the drafts of The Waste Land. The volume concludes with the commentary on all of these poems.

The second volume opens with the two books of verse of other kinds that Eliot issued, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats and his translation of St.-John Perse’s Anabase. These are followed by verses informal, improper or clubmanlike. Each of these sections has its own commentary. Finally, there is a textual history which contains not only variants from all known drafts and the many printings but also extended passages amounting to hundreds of lines of compelling verse.

This landmark edition is published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of T. S. Eliot’s death. From The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock to The Waste Land, Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats to Improper Rhymes, the edition is packed with treasures – both unpublished and published poems – a table of dates, glossary and in some cases Eliot’s own illustrations. It is essential reading for any reader of Eliot or lover of poetry.

Thomas Stearns Eliot was born in St Louis, Missouri, in 1888. He came to England in 1914 and published his first book of poems in 1917. He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948. Eliot died in 1965. 

Christopher Ricks is Co-Director, with Archie Burnett, of the Editorial Institute at Boston University. His publications on Eliot include T. S. Eliot and Prejudice (1988), Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917 (1996), and Decisions and Revisions in T. S. Eliot (the Panizzi Lectures, 2002), together with True Friendship: Geoffrey Hill, Anthony Hecht and Robert Lowell Under the Sign of Eliot and Pound (2007).

Jim McCue is the author of Edmund Burke and Our Present Discontents (1997) and editor of the Penguin Selected Poems of Arthur Hugh Clough (1991). For fifteen years he worked for The Times, where he wrote the Bibliomane column. His imprint, the Foundling Press, began with the first separate publication of T. S. Eliot’s Eeldrop and Appleplex, and has printed for the first time writings by Alexander Pope, Ben Jonson, Henry James and A. E. Housman.

‘The more we know of Eliot, the better.’
- Ezra Pound


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