1] The title refers to eggs not good enough to eat by themselves and so reserved for cooking (in dishes).
The epigraph is taken from the opening of "Le Testament" by François Villon (Poésies, ed. Jean Dufournet [Paris: Imprimerie Nationale, 1984]: 65): "In the thirtieth year of my life, / When I had drunk up all my shames."
Pipit: a nickname, suggesting a young girl.
sate: archaic past tense.
3] A picture book, such as W. A. Delamotte's Original Views of Oxford, its Colleges, Chapels, and Gardens (London: Thomas Boyes, 1843).
5] Daguerreotypes: early photographs produced on a silver-covered copper plate.
8] Possibly Carl Maria von Weber's "Afforderung zum Tanz" (Invitation to the Dance), a popular score for solo piano. See Piano Music (New York: Dover, 1992; M 22 .W37D6).
10] Sir Philip Sidney (1554-86), the Elizabethan courtier-poet, author of the love sonnet-sequence Astrophel and Stella and the essay Defence of Poetry.
11] Coriolanus: Roman general and hero of Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name.
12] kidney: "sort."
14] Sir Alfred Mond: capitalist founder of Imperial Chemical Industries, the First Commissioner of Works in Great Britain at the time that the poem was written, and a public figure (1868-1930).
15] lapt: folded about.
16] a personal loan to the British State Treasury guaranteed to yield 5% interest.
18] Lucretia Borgia (1480-1519), duchess of Ferrara and a rich, powerful, and ruthless governor in Renaissance Italy; she was wedded four times and died at the hands of her brother.
22] Madame (Helene Petrovna) Blavatsky, a Russian Theosophist and mystic popular in England at this time, notably with Ezra Pound and the editor of The Egoist (which published Eliot's poems), Dora Marsden.
24] Piccarda de Donati: a nun in Dante's Paradiso, III, formerly a nun who broke her vows.
25] penny world: candies and cakes that can be had for a penny.
26] behind the screen: children like Pipit were sometimes made to eat behind one.
28] Kentish Town and Golder's Green: suburbs in north London, near which Eliot lived during the first World War.
29] the eagles are the symbol of the Roman empire.
33] "I.e. an endemic teashop, found in all parts of London. The initials signify: Aerated Bread Company, Limited." [Eliot's note]
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: T. S. Eliot, Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1920): 22-23. E546 A753 1920a Fisher Rare Book Library.
First publication date: 1919
Publication date note: Coterie 1 (May-Dec. 1919): 44-45. In England published in an almost identical book, Ara Vos Prec (London: Ovid Press, ). Donald Gallup, T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography (London: Faber and Faber, 1969): A4b, C81
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 2:2002/2/28
Other poems by Thomas Stearns Eliot