TS Eliot: Nobel prize-winning poet wrote erotic verse for his second wife

new anthology lifts the lid on the private life of a man who took a vow of chastity in his 30s

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The Independent Culture

The Nobel Prize-winning poet TS Eliot – who took a vow of chastity in his 30s – wrote erotic poetry for his second wife, Valerie, a new anthology has revealed.

In his poem, How the Tall Girl and I Play Together, the author of The Waste Land writes: “I love a tall girl. When she sits on my knee, She with nothing on, and I with nothing on, I can just take her nipple in my lips, And stroke it with my tongue. Because she is a tall girl.”

And he discusses the “miracle of sleeping together” as he touches “the delicate down beneath her navel” in another poem, called Sleeping Together.

In How the Tall Girl’s Breasts Are, he says: “Her breasts are like ripe pears that dangle, Above my mouth, Which reaches up to take them.”

The ‘Tall Girl’ refers to Valerie Fletcher, whom he married in 1957 when she was 30 and his was 68.

Eliot’s first marriage to Vivienne Haigh-Wood was an unhappy one and some of his poetry detailed his struggles with sex and sexuality. He took the vow of chastity in 1928 while still married.

Valerie Eliot, when asked about the collapse of the poet’s first marriage, defended her husband from any suggestion he was impotent.

“There was nothing wrong with Tom, if that’s your implication,” she said.

The poems will be published by Faber in November, the publisher’s poetry editor Matthew Hollis told the Guardian.

“Eliot was not only a poet and publisher but also his own curator which is quite unusual. Instead of publishing his poems collection by collection, he used his Collected Poems as a perpetually evolving home,” Mr Hollis said. 

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