Today on My Poetic Side we take look at a letter sent from T.S Eliot about his relationship with Emily Hale.
Poet “Speaks” From Beyond the Grave
We recently wrote about the exciting unveiling of a stash of over 1000 letters written by the poet T.S Eliot that were to be unveiled 50 years after the death of the poet or his muse to whom they were written.
The content of the letters was awaited with eager anticipation by scholars of the poet all over the world eager to examine the exact nature of the poet and Emily Hale, “his muse”. The letters were finally opened last week and before examination of the contents could even begin the poet himself threw them a curveball in the form of a letter from the grave, in which he defended himself.
In a statement written in the letter which was penned by Eliot in 1960, he says
The letter was released by the Houghton Library which is a part of Harvard University. The statements which are contained in the letter are already being disputed by scholars who are examining the letters Hale donated to the library. They feel the remarks are rather beneath the poet, and somewhat petty. They are also at a loss as to why Eliot should feel the need to deny the relationship.
A scholar of the poet who has already spent several days reading the correspondence has, however, indicated that from what she has read thus far that statement is “complicated”. Whilst the letters may indicate that Eliot and Hale never actually had sex, there is some indication that there was at least an element of a sexual nature to their relationship. The letters reference kissing, longing and Hale resting her head on the poet’s shoulder.
Eliot does confirm in his statement that in 1912 he fell in love with Hale and told her this two years later. He believes that the feelings were not reciprocated. He returned to England shortly after where Ezra Pound encouraged him to return to his writing. At this time, he met his first wife and they were married after just three months, although he claims he had not wanted the commitment. The marriage was in his words “a nightmare” but kept the poet in him alive whilst a relationship with Hale he claims would have turned him into a boring professor.
The letters overlap the period of Eliot’s first marriage, written between 1930 and 1856, his marriage which began in 1915 ended when his wife died in 1947.
Eliot was not the only one with something to say on the matter. Hale left two letters of her own. She had expected Eliot to propose when his wife died, he did not, and she was devastated. Eliot noted that from this point the tone of her letters to him, which continued until 1956, changed.
Eliot went on to marry Valerie Fletcher in 1957. Although she was younger than him by 30 years he declared her to have been the love of his life.