Eliot & Williams


Williams published his collection “Spring and All” shortly after Eliot published “The Waste Land”  in The Dial. Williams was heartbroken by “The Waste Land.” It represented everything that he was trying to move poetry away from: obscure allusions, impenetrable language, and a general disgust at the dislocated, disordered, and disrupted present. Where Williams saw the potential for poetry that celebrates the everyday, unfettered by history and literary restrictions, Eliot saw ruin, the degradation of old stories, the loss of morals, and cheapening of culture. Eliot bludgeoned the democratization of poetry that Williams had been aiming for, by sending poetry back to the academy. The stark difference between the two poets is that Eliot saw the present as broken and frivolous and Williams thought the same of the past.



William Carlos Williams on "The Waste Land"

"Then out of the blue The Dial brought out The Waste Land and all our hilarity ended. It wiped out our world as if an atom bomb had been dropped upon it and our brave sallies into the unknown were turned to dust.”

 "To me especially it struck like a sardonic bullet. I felt at once that it had set me back twenty years, and I'm sure it did. Critically Eliot returned us to the classroom just at the moment when I felt that we were on the point of an escape to matters much closer to the essence of a new art form itself -- rooted in the locality which should give it fruit. I knew at once that in certain ways I was most defeated”

"Eliot had turned his back on the possibility of reviving my world. And being an accomplished craftsman, better skilled in some ways than I could ever hope to be, I had to watch him carry my world off with him, the fool, to the enemy."