T.S Eliot Poem Departure And Arrival

Departure And Arrival Poem 

About the Poet

T.S.Eliot a.k.a Thomas Stearns Eliot(September 26, 1888- January 04,1965) was an American poet and critic. He was a reputed literary theorist and celebrated poet. He got an education from Harvard and did graduate work in philosophy at the Sorbonne, Harvard, and Merton College Oxford. 

He settled in England and after some struggle, he became the literary editor for the publishing house Faber & Faber of which he later became a director. During the seventeen years of its publication(1922-1939), he edited the exclusive and influential literary journal Criterion.

In 1927, Eliot got British nationality and about the same time, he entered the Anglican Church. He spent most of his life in Europe, especially in London. Eliot had begun to write poems during his early teens.

He was able to publish his first poetic masterpiece, The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock, in 1915. In 1921, he wrote an important poem The Waste Land when he recovered from exhaustion. Eliot won the Order of Merit and the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1984. He died in 1965.

Summary| Main Idea of the Poem

In this poem, T.S.Eliot urges the young generation to work hard. In his view, young people can make the 21st century great, prosperous, and splendid. He says that we the young people of this century are standing on the brink of the knowledge of this world.

We should search for new things in this world. We should not hesitate and be doubtful about the victory of our future mission. We should follow the path of our ancestors and make more efforts for the progress of future centuries.

We must bestow on the coming generations a legacy of benefits. If we succeed in our mission, in the future when we grow old and shall feel proud of our good deeds. Then we shall desire to see the same spot and places which we have conquered in our past.

The title of this poem Departure and Arrival is quite justified and suits the poem's subject matter. In the title, departure means the end of the 19th century and arrival means the coming of the 20th century. 

It is a serious poem with a deep moral lesson. Through this poem, T.S.Eliot urges the young generation to work hard. We must strive steadfastly and undauntedly to achieve our lofty goals and aims. The basic theme is very obvious from the very beginning of the poem. 

We should work hard if we want to get success in our life. We must work for our future years and for the future of the next generation. Eliot proclaims that our future and our destiny are in our own hands. We can make it glorious by our heroic struggle.

The poem gives the readers an optimistic and idealistic note. T.S. Eliot advises the young generation to work hard with hopeful eyes. It is obvious that the way of success is very tortuous and difficult but it leads to success.  

It may bristle with thousand of fears but if a person marches through the path of life with devotion and struggle, he can achieve immortal success. As an idealistic poet, T.S Eliot urges young people to work hard, if they want to leave a legacy of benefits for their future generation. 

In this poem, T.S.Eliot has explained his ideas in the manners of the classical theory of poetry. He presents sublime thoughts in this poem. His language is sublime and his message is universal. There is no touch of romantic imagery and emotions.

Feelings are far from the poem. T.S. Eliot has given an idealistic and optimistic concept to the readers about the 20th century. In this poem, T.S.Eliot has used the metaphor voyage for human life in this world. 

To him, man's stay in this world is temporary. He has limited time to perform his deeds and actions in this world. So every human being should work hard in a short life. If he works hard and makes something extraordinary then in the future he will be praised.

According to Eliot, we are all standing on the shore of the knowledge of this world. We should arise our courage to make ourselves immortal through our masterpieces. God has bestowed us many qualities. We must polish ourselves and perform something different from others.

Explanation regarding Context

Stanza 1

Standing upon the shore of all we know
We linger for a moment doubtfully,
Then with a song upon our lips, sail we
Across the harbor bar- no chart to show
No light to warn of rocks which lie below
But let us yet put forth courageously.

Reference and Context

These lines have been taken from the poem Departure and Arrival written by T.S.Eliot. In this poem, the poet has elaborated his faith in idealism and optimism. We are living in the world of uncertainty and doubt. 

We the people of this century should not worry about the difficulties and hindrance which might appear to defeat us. We should work to make this world a better place in the future.

We should always work for the realization of an idea or vision that should guide us all the time. We should be hopeful about our bright future., although we are unable to peep into it.


In these lines, the poet says that we are standing on the shore of life. We want to plunge into the sea of life to make new discoveries but we are afraid of plunging into the sea of life. 

We are not sure of good chances of success in the future yet singing a song of hope we should start our journey. Although we have no map or light for guidance yet we should take courage and set out on our journey. 

We should set sail without any sea-chart or lighthouse. Our courage alone guides us for our better future. The poet encourages us that we should march forward hopefully and be ready to face anything that comes our way.

Stanza 2

Although the path be tortuous and slow
Although it bristles with a thousand fears
To the hopeful eye of youth, it still appears
A lane by which the rose and hawthorn grow
We hope it may be, would that we might know
Would we might look into the future years.

Reference and Context

Same as for the first stanza


In these lines, the poet urges us to accept the challenges of life bravely. The path of our life is both slow and tortuous. There may be many fears and dangers in our path. This hazardous path is like a lane growing with flowers and thorns side by side.

We hope that it may become the lane of roses leading into the bright future by our steadfast courage. We should take the lesson of courage for those sailors who face every tempest in the hope of conquering it.

Although we can not see the future events yet we should start our and sail into a vast and deep sea with a will to find out hidden treasures of knowledge and resources. We should take courage and move on and on to face the coming challenges.

Stanza 3

Great duties call the twentieth century
More grandly dowered than those which came before
Summons who knows what time may hold in store,
Or what great deed the distance years may see
What conquest over pain and misery
What heroes greater than were ever of yore

Reference and Context

Same as for the first stanza


These lines show that the future century will bring great duties and more assignments for us. The poet is an optimist about the coming age. He reminds us that the present generation has its duties to make this world a better place.

Great duties of the coming century call us to perform our heroic deeds rather than our ancestors' accomplishments. He says that we have great challenges which demand great efforts from us. The twentieth century has more channels of progress than the earlier ones.

The twentieth century has been gifted with great resources. Nobody knows what wealth may lay hidden in store for us as a reward for our constant efforts. If we are greater heroes than our forefathers, our great feats will gain conquest over pain and misery.

We have no dearth of human and material resources n our present twentieth century. This century may produce heroes and champions greater than those of the past centuries.

Stanza 4

But if this century is to be greater
Than those before, her sons must make her so
And we are of her sons and we must go
With eager hearts to help mold well her fate,
And see that she shall gain such proud estate
And shall on future centuries bestow

Reference and Context

Same as for the first stanza


These lines reflect the coming century which is going to be greater than the previous centuries, her sons will really make it so great to be felt pride in. For making the future of the earth bright we should work harder than the previous centuries.

It is only because of our current hard work and sincere efforts that the future centuries may give great success in all the different fields of life. We should strive to make the end of this century glorious.

We should make sure that remarkable progress is made in this century. We should make it a glorious century for the coming generations. Then this century will hand over its discoveries and inventions to the future centuries as a precious gift.

Stanza 5

A legacy of benefits may we
In future years be found with those who try
To labor for the good until they die
And ask no other question than to know
That they have helped the cause to victory
That with their aid the flag is raised on high

Reference and Context

Same as for the first stanza


In these lines, the poet says that we should leave our achievements as a legacy to the coming generations because of our hard labor. We may leave behind a legacy of the numberless benefits of scientific inventions and complicated computer technology.

The new generations will take benefit of our labor and struggle. The poet wishes to be remembered with those who work hard for the welfare of others until they die. 

Such devoted persons of constructive approach will ask us no other question than to know that they have helped the cause to victory and that with their help, the flags of development are waving high on our heads. That will be our only fruit if future generations recognize our labor.

Stanza 6

Sometime in distant years when we are grown
Gray-haired and old, whatever be our lot,
We shall desire to see again the spot
Which, whatsoever we have been or done
Or to what distant lands we may have gone, 
Through all the years will never have been forgot

Reference and Context

Same as for the first stanza


In these lines, the poet says that we shall desire to see the places of our victory when we are grown grey-haired. Even if we have gone to other places and remained away from our native places for many years, we shall live on the sweet memories of our exemplary youth time struggles.

Whatever be the lot or fate, we shall desire to visualize the spot of progress where we had been able in our youth to reach. Whatsoever we have been or done to forget the height we achieved as a result of our life-long efforts made till the onset of our old age. Others coming after us will never forget the level of our performance.

Important Questions and Answers

Question 1

How does the poem Departure and Arrival describe T.S.Eliot's faith in idealism and optimism?
The most remarkable quality of T.S. Eliot's poem Departure and Arrival is its idealism. Discuss?
What indications of hope do you find in the poem?
Departure and Arrival by T.S. Eliot is an optimistic poem. Discuss?


Departure and Arrival is one of the early poems of Eliot. The poem is a combination of idealism and optimism. The poet is optimistic about the bright future of coming generations. In his view, we can make the 20th century great, if we work selflessly and sincerely for the progress of humanity.

He advises us to accept the most difficult challenges of life. He urges us that we should struggle to achieve our goals. We should not hesitate to face the difficulties of life. The poem infuses courage and fortitude in the eager hearts of those who really want to change their fate.

The poet says that life is a long lane full of roses and hawthorn. The poem inspires its readers to accept every challenge of life. Departure is a must for final arrival. The struggle to make this world a better place according to our ideology is a great virtue.

The future is bright and progressive to a man who has strong faith, optimism, and courage. Being a pot of idealism and optimism. T.S.Eliot urges that we should leave a legacy of benefits and a bright future to the coming generations.

We should struggle hopefully. We should face and try to overcome all kinds of pains and troubles as we perform our duties. He recommends a life of constant readiness and struggles to make the present better than all the past.

In this way, he connects our present and future happiness with our present struggle and work. T.S. Eliot wants that men should become men of action as well as of ideas to start living a well-proportioned or balanced life.

He wants the best efforts on our part, co-operation and mutual help. The establishment of a moral socialistic world order without the poison of injurious competition and the dirt of commercialism is needed. 

Question 2

What does T.S.Eliot mean by standing upon the shore of all we know in Departure and Arrival?
Elaborate the metaphor of human life as a voyage, as used by T.S.Eliot in his poem Departure and Arrival.


In this poem, the poet has used the metaphor of voyage for human life in this world. He says that man's sojourn in this world is very short and ephemeral. He comes into this world for a short time. He performs his responsibilities and after that, he leaves this world.

During his stay in the world, the man sets sail on the ocean of time. He has a mission and objective to achieve in this world. He decides his future course of action. He makes his own goals and aims to fulfill his goals and aims. He works hard.

He also gets guidance from the knowledge and experience of other human beings. He stands on the shore of the knowledge of this world. He aspires to plunge into the sea of this knowledge. He has some fears and doubts.

He tries to overcome these fears and doubts. After tiding over his fears and suspicions, he dives into the sea of knowledge of this world and marches on the journey of success. His high aims and goals serve as a source of inspiration to him.

He knows that there are many hardships and dangers on his way to reach his destination. He has no map for guidance during his unknown voyage. He has no light or knowledge to know how many rocks are lying ahead of him.

He faces the dangers and hardships with the force of his faith and idealism. He reaches the harbor which is his destination and goal, despite the difficulties of his path. This poem encourages man to move optimistically and positively in life to attain big aims.

Question 3

Discuss the theme of Departure and Arrival by T.S.Eliot
write a note the moral message of the poem
What are Eliot's views about the present generation and what does he hope for the coming generation?


Departure and Arrival is a thought-provoking and serious poem. In this poem, the poet describes a deep moral message to the young generation. The poet tells the young people to set aims for their future life.

Future life can be purposeful if the young people set before them some high goals and aims. They must struggle to achieve their lofty aims. The poet gives a message to the young generation to work selflessly for the betterment of the future.

The sea of life may be filled with fears, dangers, doubts, and hardship. But we the youth of this century should not hesitate to plunge into the sea of life. We must accept the challenges of life boldly. A bright future is lying ahead of us.

The 20th century with all its hopes, challenges, and possibilities id lying before us. We the youth of this century can add to the knowledge, experience, and skill of the coming generations. We should not worry if we do not attain our goals.

We must sacrifice to build the future of the next generation. The coming generation will certainly remember us for good deeds. That time we shall remember the places where we served our time and energy for the progress of the people and the land.

The people of our century should have the sense to understand what is present and how to shape the future. They should know how the people in the past ages have done something useful for our present well-being.

The imperfections of the lives of other people presently living the poet make him think about how they all can have better lives and how they can live a much better life in the future. 


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