Eliot attended Miss Locke's Primary School and Smith Academy in St. Louis. His first poems and prose pieces appeared in the Smith Academy Record in 1905, the year of his graduation. He spent the 1905-1906 academic year at Milton Academy, a private prep school in Massachusetts, and then entered Harvard University, beginning his studies on September 26, 1906, his eighteenth birthday. There, he published frequently in the Harvard Advocate, took courses with such professors as Paul Elmer More and Irving Babbitt, the latter of whom influenced Eliot through his classicism and emphasis upon tradition, and also studied the poetry of Dante, who would prove to be a lifelong source of enthusiasm and inspiration.
Eliot received his B.A. in 1909, and stayed at Harvard to earn a master's degree in English literature, which was conferred the following year. Beginning in the fall of 1910, he spent a year in Paris, reading, writing (including "The Wi...
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...mpossible to overstate Eliot's influence or his importance to twentieth-century poetry. Through his essays and especially through his own poetic practice, he played a major role in establishing the modernist conception of poetry: learned, culturally allusive, ironic, impersonal in manner (but, in his case, packed with powerful reserves of private feeling), organized by associative rather than logical connections, and difficult at times to the point of obscurity. But, despite the brilliance and penetration of his best essays, Eliot could not have accomplished so wholesale a revolution by precept alone. First and last, it was through the example of his own superb poetry that he carried the day, and the poetry will survive undiminished as his critical influence waxes and wanes, and as the details of his career recede into literary history.
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