|This is not my kind of poetry. In “Reactions to the Poems of T.S. Eliot”, Charles Powell is quoted as having said that “‘the ordinary reader’ would ‘make nothing of it'” and I think that is the case with me. I give the poems themselves two stars, but bump the book up to three stars because of the extra material at the end.
This is the first book of poetry I have read by Eliot and while the poems were not bad, they are really just not for me. I like poetry that makes the reader feel something, even if that reader doesn’t necessarily understand all of what the poet is trying to convey. These poems just left me a little frustrated as the number of allusions was a bit overwhelming for me. In his review, I.A. Richards discredits the accusation that Eliot’s use of allusions is excessive and unnecessary, but for me the criticism still stands. It’s hard to get into a poem when some of the best lines and taken word-for-word from another source. That’s less of an allusion and more of a lazy way to make a poem more interesting.
Also, the prejudice in the poems was another downside. The poor views of Jewish people and women took away some of the appeal of the poems for me. Despite the time period in which these poems were written, it is still difficult to enjoy such prejudice pieces.
I do think the information at the end of the book was helpful in understanding some of the criticisms and praise for Eliot’s work as well as giving some insight into what imagism and vorticism are. The discussion of the connections of Eliot’s poetry and antisemitism was also interesting and informative.