This poem marks the beginning of T.S. Eliot’s career as one of the twentieth century’s most influential poets. As it shows only surface thought and images, it is considered difficult to interpret exactly what is going on in the poem, but there are a number of speculations on the interpretations that are covered in detail on Wikipedia.
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Thomas Stearns Eliot was one of the most distinguished literary figures of the 20th century, winning the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature “for his outstanding, pioneer contribution to present-day poetry”. Although born in Missouri and attending Harvard, he lived most of his life in England. Eliot, while on a three month leave in the coastal resort of Margate for a period of convalescence possibly showed an early version of the poem to Ezra Pound. A year later Eliot had produced a 19-page version of the poem and Pound then made detailed editorial comments and significant cuts to the manuscript. Eliot dedicated the poem to Pound, referring to him as “il miglior fabbro”, Italian for “the better craftsman.” Read more about Eliot on Wikipedia.