Hysteria

By T. S. Eliot 1888–1965
As she laughed I was aware of becoming involved in her laughter and being part of it, until her teeth were only accidental stars with a talent for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps, inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty green iron table, saying: “If the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden, if the lady and gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden ...” I decided that if the shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of the fragments of the afternoon might be collected, and I concentrated my attention with careful subtlety to this end.

Source: Poems (Alfred A. Knopf, 1920)

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Poet T. S. Eliot 1888–1965

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Health & Illness, Relationships, Living, Men & Women

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

 T. S. Eliot

Biography

When T. S. Eliot died, wrote Robert Giroux, "the world became a lesser place." Certainly the most imposing poet of his time, Eliot was revered by Igor Stravinsky "not only as a great sorcerer of words but as the very key keeper of the language." For Alfred Kazin he was "the mana known as 'T. S. Eliot,' the model poet of our time, the most cited poet and incarnation of literary correctness in the English-speaking world." Northrop . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Health & Illness, Relationships, Living, Men & Women

POET’S REGION England

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Prose Poem

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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