09/26/2013 11:14 am ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

11 Beautiful T.S. Eliot Quotes


Modernist poet T.S. Eliot, who penned such memorable works as "The Waste Land," "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and "Four Quartets," would be celebrating his 125th birthday were he still alive today.

The writer lived a storied life, working as a French teacher, a director at the publishing house now known as Faber & Faber, a foreign accounts worker at a bank (where he was employed while working on "The Waste Land"), and a book critic, which likely inspired his social commentary, "The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism."

It's no wonder, then, that the writer has more than a few inspiring insights to offer, both gleaned from his poems and from his nonfiction writing. Here are 11 of his most beautiful quotes:

"To do the useful thing, to say the courageous thing, to contemplate the beautiful thing: that is enough for one man's life." - from "The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism"

"Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go."

ts eliot quote 1

"Sometimes things become possible if we want them bad enough."

"What we call the beginning is often the end. And to make an end is to make a beginning. The end is where we start from."

“If you aren't in over your head, how do you know how tall you are?”

ts eliot quote 2

“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood.”

“Whatever you think, be sure it is what you think; whatever you want, be sure that is what you want; whatever you feel, be sure that is what you feel.”

"We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time."

ts eliot quote 3

“The very existence of libraries affords the best evidence that we may yet have hope for the future of man."

“Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?”

“Success is relative. It is what we make of the mess we have made of things.”