TS Eliot’s Love Song: Intense Letters Reveal the Passion Behind the Pen | TS Elliott

To many who knew him, T.S. Eliot was considered an intellectually distant and isolated man, perhaps fitting the author of the somber and foreboding saga. waste land. His contemporary, the poet Siegfried Sassoon, went so far as to describe him as a “cold-stored humanist”.

But the previously unpublished letters show that the great writer of modernity was in fact a very emotional and sentimental man.

The letters were addressed to Emily Hale, whom the Nobel Prize-winning poet and playwright had loved for decades, even though he was a married man in Britain and she lived in America.

In one he wrote: “When I go to bed I imagine you kissing me; and when you take off your socks you must imagine me kissing your dear feet and striving to draw near to your beautiful holy spirit.”

On other occasions he told her that “you have always had all my love and devotion”, that he longed to caress her “beautiful and radiant” forehead and that he would be “extremely jealous” of any other man who “taken care of you as I did”.

Eliot wrote more than 1,100 letters to Hill between 1930 and 1957. Many of them date back to the years he was in an unhappy marriage to his first wife, Vivienne Haywood, which he described to a friend as “a hideous farce.”

Hand holding a set of letters tied with a red ribbon, some addressed to Emily Hale with a stamp with a portrait of the King, the letters at the back partially obscured, but with a picture of George Washington
Some of the more than 1,000 letters TS Eliot wrote to Emily Hale over the course of 27 years. Photo: Shelley Zfast/Princeton University Library/Associated Press

Hill donated the correspondence to Princeton University in the 1950s with the agreement that it would remain closed until 50 years after her death or Elliot’s death, whoever else. Elliott died in 1965 and Hill in 1969.

Upon hearing about her donation to the university, Elliott prepared an official denial, within a statement that was to be released once the letters were published. He wrote: “I didn’t like Emily Hale.”

Robert Crawford will display many characters in . format Elliot after the neglected earththe second volume of his autobiography of one of the most important poets of the twentieth century, to be published this week. He reveals the public and personal experiences that inspired some of Elliot’s masterpieces, including waste land And the four quadrants.

Crawford told observer that these messages wereClosed in Princeton until 2020so no one was able to read it”, and that he is the first biographer to be given permission to reproduce the passages prior to their planned publication on the Internet.

He believes that it was through these letters that Eliot revealed what he saw as his true personality: “He sees himself as an emotional person. He is well aware that people see him as a somewhat cold intellectual.”

“This is how people look at it a lot TS Elliott – I still look at him. People who might not understand his poetry feel that there is a crossword aspect to it.

“But if you read it out loud, you’ll realize that there’s a tremendous emotional turmoil underneath a lot of Eliot’s poetry. Sometimes people wonder where that came from. I think it came from that feeling of longing, connected to his feelings for Emily Hill.”

Smiling together in a big garden
Emily Hill and TS Eliot in Vermont, 1946. Photo: Princeton University Library, AP

Eliot had no hope of divorce, and remained married because of his religious faith, yet his letters reflect a physical longing. He said to Hale, “I am displeased, and always will, every profession and participle–except the writing of poetry–that takes me from you; and yet you are always with me when I wake up and when I go to bed, and extend my arms to where they ought to be.”

Hill was a teacher of speech and drama who got to know Elliot in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in 1912, when Elliot attended Harvard University. She was a friend of his cousin.

Crawford said that Elliot declared his love for her in 1914, and thought she did not reciprocate. He settled in England that year, married Vivian in 1915, and soon thereafter realized his mistake.

Although he did not act on his wish for Hale, he dreamed that one day his relationship with her would be made known, telling her, ‘It would be too much to give a very wrong impression of me, and few clues as to the truth. Can I tell you how I feel, I wonder? I admit that this is selfish and perhaps selfish; but it is not natural, when one has to live in a mask all his life, to be able to hope that someday people will be able to know the truth … I have seen time and time again the impression I made, And I longed to be able to cry ‘No, you’re all wrong about me, it’s not like that at all.’

Crawford said, “He came on as a much more emotional and emotional person than people give him credit for. The letters to Emily give us a great insight into Elliot.”

Vivian suffered from mental illness and was granted asylum in 1938. After her death in 1947, Elliot Hill did not pursue and married Valerie Fletcher a decade later. In his 1960 statement, he recalled realizing at the time that he only liked Hill’s “memory.”