T.S. Eliot

In this poem, Eliot exposes the transient nature of love and admits that love is not often found in life, however the poem is an optimistic one because it encourages us to think positively.

T.S. Eliot

Nationality: American

T.S. Eliot is remembered today as a literary critic, poet, and editor.

His poems have had a lasting influence on a generation of writers.

Song’ by T.S Eliot is a cunning poem about love. The poem consists of two stanzas and follows an a-b-a-b rhyme template throughout. The main message Eliot expresses in the poem is that life is short so we should make the most of it, especially when it comes to expressing our love to those we have profound feelings for. Eliot uses a rather intelligent approach to explaining how important it is to express one’s feelings of love. The poem ‘Song’ is heavy with imagery and contains metaphoric elements, much like some of the other poems by T.S. Eliot.

Song by T.S. Eliot

Song Analysis

If space and time, as sages say,
Are things which cannot be,
The fly that lives a single day
Has lived as long as we.

The poem Song’ begins with an open thought and a probing statement combined together. The first four lines of the poem use imagery to question the old saying that space and time are elements too complex and hard to understand. Eliot is asking that if space and time are elements too complex to understand, then they are also too complex to exist. If this is the case, that time has no meaning, then a fly that has lived for just a single day has lived the same amount as us, who have lived for many years. The meaning of commencing the poem with such a probing statement is to express the fact that abstract concepts such as time, space, life and love may be too complex to explain, but that does not mean they do not exist. Time may be hard to explain scientifically but it definitely exists, for if it did not exist; age and the passing of days would hold absolutely no meaning at all. The first four lines of the poem cunningly express that despite what many thinkers say love does in fact exist.

But let us live while yet we may,
Though sages disagree.

The next four lines go on to state that since time exists, and it is passing very fast we should make the most of our life. Eliot introduces the element of love in these lines, which is the main theme of the poem. Eliot states that we should live while love and life are free. this statement holds a very deep meaning. Eliot is stating that not only should we simply live, but we should live while life and love are allowed to run free. Life and love running free could be referring to that portion of our life where we experience love. Eliot is saying that when love comes into our life we should live it, in other words, we should express our love as much as possible whenever we get the chance because, despite what sages say, time exists and it is passing far too quickly for us to leave these golden opportunities of living behind us.

The flowers I sent thee when the dew
To suck the eglantine.

The next four lines switch to a voice of presumably a male persona accounting for a personal experience of his love. Once again Eliot makes a reference to the reality of time passing and the effects time has on living organisms. The male persona states that the flowers he had selected to be sent to his loved one were fresh when they were picked but by the passage of time they withered and became a mere shadow of what they had been before. This can be taken directly or it can be taken in a  metaphoric way as well. The verses could be referring to the imminent and transient nature of love, which is relevant to the overall theme of the poem. That when the first passionate feelings of love came into play they were fresh and alive, but as time passed the feelings withered and became useless. This once again highlights Eliot’s main point; we should express our feelings of love as we feel them because with time passing they will diminish and fade into nothing.

But let us haste to pluck anew
Nor mourn to see them pine,
And though the flowers of love be few
Yet let them be divine.

The last four lines tie the poem together beautifully. The verses pick up from the previous line and state that when our feelings of love do die and wither we should not just stand waiting, but we should make haste to find the next feeling of love in our life. The dying off of our emotions, especially of love is inevitable so we should not mourn the loss of our feelings. Instead of mourning, we should make haste to feel love again so that we can express it and enjoy the feeling as we do. The male persona exposes that indeed the previous verses were a metaphor of flowers referring to love when a direct metaphor is used ‘the flowers of love be few.’ the male persona is insisting that despite the fact that we may not have much love in our life, the times we do find and experience it we should let it be an absolutely magical experience.divinity is used to describe unearthly happiness and pleasure.

We can attain this almost unreal feeling of love by expressing our feelings wholeheartedly and most importantly allowing ourselves to love and feel loved. One could argue that throughout the poem Eliot was discussing romantic love but there are no specific indications in the poem about romantic love. This message to express love to all those whom we feel for is universal to every type of love. Love for your spouse, parents, teachers and friends. Instead of thinking of love as a permanent and constant entity, in order to truly enjoy love, we must be optimistic and enjoy the few times that we do experience it in our lives.


The main theme of the poem Song’ by T.S Eliot is love and optimism. The optimistic mood of the poem compliments the theme of love because realistically ,optimism is necessary to even believe in, yet alone enjoy, the concept of love. It is interesting to note that Eliot entitled the poem ‘Song’. The title adds more meaning to the poem as the entire poem is discussing the necessity to express our love as we feel it. Songs play with our mood and exaggerate our feelings, which is exactly what Eliot is encouraging us to do in his poem. A song is also something used to express deep innermost emotions such as love.

Song’ by T.S Eliot is a beautiful poem reflecting the importance of expressing love and making the most of the love in our life. Eliot uses imagery and metaphoric elements to describe the importance of expressing our love to our loved ones and not procrastinating our feelings. Eliot exposes the transient nature of love and admits that love is not often found in life, however the poem is an optimistic one because it encourages us to think positively and states that it is incumbent on us to make the few instances of love we do experience in life to be are utterly divine.

Discover the Essential Secrets

of Poetry

Sign up to unveil the best kept secrets in poetry,

brought to you by the experts

Maha Rehman Poetry Expert
Maha has a BSc Honors from the University of Toronto and is an Author and Writer by profession. She loves writing and genuinely idealizes the idea of science and literary art combining together into a liberating force of intellectual enlightenment. You can check out her YA novel 'Sole Silence'.
Notify of

Oldest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Share via
Copy link
Powered by Social Snap
Share to...