Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Finding Eliot in St. Louis

I’ve been reading Young Eliot: From St. Louis to the Waste Land by Robert Crawford, a biography of T.S. Eliot’s life from 1888 to 1922. The period encompasses what are perhaps his greatest and best known works – The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock; The Hollow Men; and The Waste Land.  For major works, only Four Quartets lies outside this period.

I knew he was born and raised in St. Louis, where I’ve lived since 1979. But he is something on a non-entity here, this city that continues to celebrate its past (it’s almost a legal requirement to know about the 1904 World’s Fair) while it tries to find new ways to sabotage its future.

Little physical evidence of Eliot remains in the city. There is the house on Westminster Place in the Central West End where his family moved when he was 16. He was only there a year before he headed off to school in the Boston area, first a year at a prep school and then Harvard. And there is a medallion in the sidewalk in front of the place where the house he was born and raised in once stood.

To continue reading, please see my post today at Tweetspeak Poetry.

Painting: Tom Eliot at 13, oil on canvas by his sister Charlotte Eliot.

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