O quam te memorem virgo…

STAND on the highest pavement of the stair-
Lean on a garden urn-
Weave, weave the sunlight in your hair-
Clasp your flowers to you with a pained surprise-
Fling them to the ground and turn
With a fugitive resentment in your eyes:
But weave, weave the sunlight in your hair.

So I would have had him leave,
So I would have had her stand and grieve,
So he would have left
As the soul leaves the body torn and bruised,
As the mind deserts the body it has used.
I should find
Some way incomparably light and deft,
Some way we both should understand,
Simple and faithless as a smile and shake of the hand.

She turned away, but with the autumn weather
Compelled my imagination many days,
Many days and many hours:
Her hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers.
And I wonder how they should have been together!
I should have lost a gesture and a pose.
Sometimes these cogitations still amaze
The troubled midnight and the noon’s repose.

Analysis, meaning and summary of T.S. Eliot's poem La Figlia che Piange


  1. Seamus says:

    In the few comments here, people seem to be making note of the line “the hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers” – I, personally, believe to fully understand this line the reader needs to continue to connect this directly to the next line “And I wonder how they should have been together!” Eliot is using a metaphor to describe her bad and good characteristics and reflects, in an older stage of his life, if they could have worked together in a relationship with himself.

  2. Sarah says:

    You can hear T.S. Eliot giving a reading of this poem online at The Academy of American Poets at poets.org

  3. rahul bhan says:

    the poem is one such that brings you to tears literally by the sheer imagery and the content. i have been reading !!! this poem for the last 15 years and have never been tired. as far as the hair ‘on’ her arms comment i believe one really sees what one wants to. looking at the sunset a dying man said, ” what a pity for the sun to be no more”. the poem is wonderful for its power to move and make one think if not feel.

  4. Ray Corbin says:

    Eliot was certainly an odd duck, but he’s always been one of my favorite odd ducks — despite the romanticism I believe that generation held with playing God — especially in the melancholy of blowing up the world … “La Figlia che Piange” is one of my favorite poems by Eliot — I prefer his earlier work —
    Readers of this poem should be aware that “the hair over her arms and her arms full of flowers,” is Eliot remarking about the hair “on” her arms … perhaps, even, in a repulsive manner. So subtle was this poet.

  5. Zartasha Shah says:

    T. S. Eliot is one of those poets who has a very special place in our heart. Most of his poems are successfully explain their theme in a very stylish waqy. This poem creats a very beautiful atmosphere around us and shows us many shades of moods at a time. Personaly, I like it very much.

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