T.S. Eliot’s Prose (Poetry)

  • Vidyan Ravinthiran


Looking at Eliot’s one published prose poem, ‘Hysteria’, this essay argues its centrality to the emergence of the form as an undecided and self-conscious twentieth-century genre. Eliot considered prose an artistic medium as complex as verse and, also, as the vehicle of thought. The first idea came to him from vers libre; the second, from the longstanding idea of prose as the manifestation of a cogent individuality—a clarified demonstration of the rounded literary intelligence. Bonamy Dobrée published Modern Prose Style in 1934 and Herbert Read’s English Prose Style appeared in 1946: as editor of The Criterion, Eliot worked with both. I look at these works, his unpublished prose poems, and scrutinise the rhythm and syntax of ‘Hysteria’ with this double-minded view of prose in mind.

Works Cited

  1. Baudelaire, Charles. “To Arsène Houssaye,” dedication of Le Spleen de Paris. Paris Spleen, translated by Louise Varèse. New Directions: New York, 1970. Google Scholar
  2. Dobrée, Bonamy. Modern Prose Style. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1934.Google Scholar
  3. Donoghue, Denis. Words Alone: The Poet T.S. Eliot. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  4. Eliot, T.S. “The Borderline of Prose,” New Statesman 9 (May 19, 1917): 158.Google Scholar
  5. ———. The Selected Prose of T. S. Eliot, edited by Frank Kermode. London: Faber, 1975.Google Scholar
  6. ———. Inventions of the March Hare: Poems 1909–1917, edited by Christopher Ricks. San Diego, New York, and London: Harvest, 1998.Google Scholar
  7. ———. Selected Essays. London: Faber, 1999.Google Scholar
  8. ———. Collected Poems 1909–1962. London: Faber, 2002.Google Scholar
  9. Gordon, Lyndall. Eliot’s Early Years. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1977.Google Scholar
  10. Harding, Jason. The Criterion: Cultural Politics and Periodical Networks in Inter-War Britain. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  11. Murphy, Marguerite. A Tradition of Subversion: The Prose Poem in English from Wilde to Ashbery. Amherst: The University of Massachusetts Press, 1992.Google Scholar
  12. Phillips, Adam. Promises, Promises: Essays on Literature and Psychoanalysis. London: Faber, 2000.Google Scholar
  13. Read, Herbert. English Prose Style. London: G. Bell and Sons, 1946.Google Scholar
  14. Saintsbury, George. A History of English Prose Rhythm. London and Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965.Google Scholar
  15. Schuchard, Ronald. Eliot’s Dark Angel: Intersections of Life and Art. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  16. Scofield, Martin. T.S. Eliot: The Poems. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988.Google Scholar
  17. Valéry, Paul. The Art of Poetry. Translated by Denise Folliot. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1958.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Vidyan Ravinthiran
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BirminghamBirminghamUK

Personalised recommendations