January 28, 2023

Save the Net Books

Blogazine on Books, Arts, and Music

“The Triumph of Bullshit” [by T. S. Eliot]

Did you know TS Eliot wrote a poem called The Triumph of Bullshit? Neither did I until I began reading The Poems of TS Eliot, Volume One (Farrar, Straus & Giroux), the massive tome edited by Christopher Ricks and Jim McCue in a heroic act of scholarly dedication. Of the 1311 pages, about nine hundred and sixty are devoted to commentary and I cannot imagine a more carefully annotated TSE greatest hits book. I wanted to review it before its publication date last December, but it would take forty seminar hours to do it justice. The comment and notes are immensely valuable. Eliot is without a doubt the most profound modern poet and the one with the greatest lasting influence. And it’s good to remember that in his younger days, Eliot had an irrepressible sense of humor that was delightfully fake. Consider “The Triumph of Bullshit,” one of tse-tse’s “gruff frolics,” as Ricks put it. Here it is. – DL

“The Triumph of Bullshit” [by T. S. Eliot]Ladies who have been waiting for my attention
If you consider, my merits are small
etiolated, alembicated,
Orotund, tasteless, fantastic,
Monotonous, quirky, constipated,
Impotent Galamatia
Affected, possibly imitated,
For heaven’s sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward, bland and terribly tasteless
Pompous, pretentious, awkwardly meticulous
Blunt like the heart of an unbaked brioche
Wriggling versicles, weakly versiculated
Often muted, often blatant
Trying to create emotions that get ridiculous
For heaven’s sake stick it up your ass.

Ladies who think I’m overly vocal
Gracious cabot making noise
That people scream “this stuff is too stiff for us” –
Naive kid with a box full of new toys
Carnivorous toy lions, smoking guns
Steaming engines – all this will pass;
Completely innocent – “he just wants to make us shiver.”
For heaven’s sake stick it up your ass.

And if you walk by yourself with a silver foot
Among the theories scattered on the lawn
Take my good intentions with the rest
And then, for heaven’s sake, stick it up your ass.

Many believe that every good poem needs to be read at least twice. You can read this poem a second time here. – DL

from the archive; First published on 11/08/2019