“Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood” – T.S. Eliot

Back CameraI was having dinner with a an old friend last week and he told me how he’d been reading T.S Eliot to his soon-to-be-born child. And it made me think.

I studied English Literature at University, and if there is one thing I want to pass onto my children it’s a love and appreciation of books. When I was pregnant with BUB.1 I read aloud to him. When he was tiny, we played classical music to help him sleep. I made playlists of songs to play softly in the background as I read our carefully selected books to him. I wanted to nurture his mind.

Poor old BUB.2. At bedtime I am so exhausted, I grab the first book I can find, read it to them both (even if they’re otherwise occupied in throwing cars at each other), and try to get them off to sleep as quickly as possible. I received a letter from the library today regarding an overdue library book – I’ve been meaning to go in and explain to them that I can’t find it for weeks but I’ve kept putting it off.

So tonight I made sure they were both in bed and both listened to the story (Julia Donaldson’s Tyrannosaurus Drip). BUB.1 was pretty attentive, BUB.2 squeaked and pointed at the jubilee flag in the corner of the room until I got it for him and then proceeded to poke me in the eye with it.

That will teach me. Off to the library it is.


3 thoughts on ““Genuine poetry can communicate before it is understood” – T.S. Eliot

  1. With all due respect to Mr. Eliot, communication assumes understanding–otherwise, what are you understanding about what has been communicated?


    1. I have no idea what he meant, but I guess I meant that maybe you are communicating how soothing words can be, just the sound of them, or how words can be used to share ideas. Just by reading words and looking into your baby’s eyes, surely that has to be communicating something. Poetry can communicate the beauty of word sounds, and maybe a general mood, even if the words themselves are just noises to the very young audience.


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