Remembering T.S. Eliot’s Missouri Ties on his Birthday

Monday would have been the 123th birthday of T. S. Eliot, the Nobel Prize-winning poet, dramatist and critic who has been called the greatest poet of the 20th century.

By Davis Dunavin (Columbia, Mo.)

Eliot’s poems, like The Waste Land and Ash Wednesday, embodied the spirit of Modernism in their description of urban landscapes removed from nature. Eliot’s legacy is celebrated across the world, but in Missouri, where he was born and raised, he’s rarely embraced as a native son. As part of Word Missouri, an ongoing series about Missouri’s literary heritage, KBIA’s Davis Dunavin sat down with University of Missouri professor and Eliot scholar Frances Dickey. They talked about connections to St. Louis in Eliot’s life and poetry. Listen to the full interview:

Dickey reads the opening to “The Dry Salvages,” from Eliot’s The Four Quartets, a stanza which refers intimately to Eliot’s childhood relationship with the Mississippi River: