Next to familiarizing oneself with a poet's style, the best part about reading a poetry collection is culling favourites. 'The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock' won me over immediately, as did the 4 Quartets (especially Dry Salvages). As seen in The Waste Land, T.S. Eliot certainly has a penchant for using 'death' imagery and writing about dry and barren things. He also explores the idea of the "shared agony" of life and death (I definitely prefer his commentaries to Jose Saramango's), and the passage of time. I will never forget how he refers to life as the "dreamcrossed twilight between birth and dying."
I have to resist the urge to copy/paste massive chunks of quotes in.
"It seems, as one becomes older,^my favourite passage from The Dry Salvages. What an astounding Quartet - in a matter of lines TS Eliot reflects upon time, the human perception of its passing and happinness.
That the past has another pattern, and ceases to be a mere sequence—
Or even development: the latter a partial fallacy
Encouraged by superficial notions of evolution,
Which becomes, in the popular mind, a means of disowning the past."
The voice returns like the insistent out-of-tune^I'm so accustomed to out of tune violins in August.
Of a broken violin on an August afternoon:
And youth is cruel, and has no remorse^ from The Portrait of a Lady, one of the most memorable poems from this collection.
And smiles at situations which it cannot see.