Today is T.S. Eliot’s birthday – In ’58 Allen made him an honorary “Ignu” (“Eliot probably an ignu one of the few who’s funny when he eats”) – and three years later, in “Journal Night Thoughts” – “Eliot’s voice clanging over the sky/ on upper Broadway, “Only thru Time is Time conquered”
– 27 years later, this, from a letter to Lucien Carr:
“Read biography of T.S.Eliot this week – he had same case (‘karma trap”), plus mad wife who rubbed both with ether, took morphine for nervous headaches and continually bled “purulent discharges from her yoni” – wound up in madhouse after 18 years of mutual torture – he himself wrote wild filthy epic of King Bolo (nobody’s seen in public yet) [editor’s note – no longer true] full of assholes and Jewboys and cunts and pricks, and “was addicted to Nembutals” (goofballs) aetat. 60. Happy ending, however, the last 8 years of his life married his secretary who said the “little boy” finally came out in him, and he lived smiling ever after, said “Hurrah Hurrah!” carried back home through his portal from the hospital room the last time, and died calling his new wife’s name. And he smoked Galouise almost to the end with heavy emphysema!”
In 1968, in an interview with Fernanda Pivano: “But Eliot never solved the verse problem for us, because he went to England and wrote ultimately in the last plays in basically an old style of Shakespearean blank verse, written slightly adapted to (intelligent) modern speech. But he never solved the problem of how do you register American speech?”
That would be left to Williams.
Here‘s one of several reviews of the recently-published (and much belated) second volume of his Collected Letters (and here’s another (from the London Review of Books)
Here‘s his interview (from 1959) with Donald Hall for The Paris Review.
And, lest we forget, the poetry – Four Quartets, Prufrock, The Waste Land..
Here’s the first part of a BBC tv Arena portrait
The rest of the program may be seen here, here, here, here, and here
The PBS documentary (from 1988’s Voices and Visions) may be accessed here
And, as a postscript – you can hear Bob Dylan reading a little T.S.Eliot here