Eliot Comes Home
Thanks so much for that eloquent and thoughtful essay by Kevin D. Williamson on T. S. Eliot and his attachment to his hometown of St. Louis (“Looking for Tom,” September 22). Everything about Williamson’s essay is well done, and there is a detail worth adding that has a direct National Review connection.
In the 1990s, I wrote an essay for NR (“Poetic Injustice,” May 29, 1995) lamenting that while great natives of St. Louis were memorialized all over the city, the greatest poet and literary critic of the 20th century had been mostly forgotten in his hometown.
As a result of that essay, a longtime NR reader and subscriber, Walker Taylor III, a fellow Eliot devotee, contacted his friend the Episcopal bishop of Missouri, recommending that a significant memorial to Eliot be created and permanently located in the beautiful Episcopal cathedral in downtown St. Louis.
I worked with both men and with Eliot’s widow Valerie Eliot, a Londoner, to arrange a sterling bronzed bas relief of Eliot, accompanied by a famous stanza from his poem “Little Gidding”: “We shall not cease from exploration / And the end of all our exploring / Will be to arrive where we started / And know the place for the first time.”
That luminous memorial to Eliot now adorns one of the bays in that St. Louis church, and on the day of its dedication, another of America’s great poets of the 20th century, Anthony Hecht, not only came for the dedication but also read much of Eliot’s greatest work.
None of this would have happened without a faithful NR reader making all the right connections in order to celebrate the literary achievement of one of St. Louis’s greatest sons, Thomas Stearns Eliot.
Timothy S. Goeglein
Ken Burns’s “enthronement” of the Roosevelts, as discussed in Amity Shlaes’s review (“Progressives Enthroned,” October 6), is surely lament-able. But I am left to wonder: If the Roosevelts are on the throne, what is left for the Clintons? Perhaps apotheosis.