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 the poem by

5 Comments

  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.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Do you have any comments, criticism, paraphrasis or analysis of this poem that you feel would assist other visitors in understanding the meaning or the theme of this poem better? If they are accepted, they will be added to this page of American Poems. Together we can build a wealth of information, but it will take some discipline and determination.