Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot – Summary Analysis Questions

Spread the love


Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot is one of the representative poems of the 20th century. It presents Eliot’s feelings at the departure of the 19th century and the arrival of the 20th century. The poem inspires the readers to struggle for the benefit of humanity. Eliot reminds us of the role we may play in making the 20th century beneficial for coming generations. He conveys a message of courage, determination, and optimism. According to the poet, a selfless effort can win us greatness and glory from a historical perspective. The poem, Departure and Arrival, is a part of the syllabi of many universities. This article, Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot – Summary Analysis Questions, will assist students in comprehending Eliot’s approach. The instructors who look for quality material on this poem will also find this article helpful.

The Poet

Born in St. Louis, Missouri, America, on September 26, 1888, T S Eliot is a famous 20th-century poet, essayist, critic, and playwright. He is one of the most celebrated writers of the Modernist era of English literature. An American by birth, he moved to England in 1914. Eliot attracted the literary world’s attention in 1915 with the publication of Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock. After this, he composed many remarkable poems. The Waste Land (1922), The Hollow Men (1925), Ash Wednesday (1930), and Four Quartets (1943) added to Eliot’s fame. His plays, Murder in the Cathedral (1935) and The Cocktail Party (1949) also won public acclaim. In 1948, Eliot received the Nobel Prize in Literature. Eliot breathed his last on January 4, 1965, in London, England.

Departure and Arrival by T. S. Eliot

Text of the Poem Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot

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.

Stanza 2

Although the path be tortuous and slow,
Although it bristles with a thousand fears,
To 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 future years.

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 distant years may see,
What conquest over pain and misery,
What heroes greater than were ever of yore.

Stanza 4

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

Stanza 5

A legacy of benefits may we look into future years,
May we do good until we 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.

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 forgotten.

Summary of the Poem Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot

Comparison of Man’s Advancement to a Voyage

Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot is a symbolic poem. The poet refers to our advancement toward our goal as a voyage across a sea. We are unaware of the difficulties that lie ahead. We have no chart or map to help us navigate across this sea. There is no light to warn us of the rocks in the sea. It creates a sense of uncertainty in our minds and we hesitate from setting off. But we have to muster up the courage and start our voyage.

Difficulties of the Path and the Role of Hope

T S Eliot believes that this journey across the sea is going to be full of difficulties. It is full of fears and doubts. The path to our destination is not straight. The journey is slow. But these difficulties do not matter to a young man. To him, it is a lane full of flowers. The poet associates hope with the youth.

Expectations of the 20th Century

The poet urges us to listen to the call of the 20th century. He believes that this century has greater gifts than those the previous centuries had. The 20th century, with all its gifts, calls us to play our part in making it great and memorable. We cannot say what fate has decreed for us in the future. But this century expects of us glorious acts of heroism. It inspires us to work to overcome human misery and pain.

How to make 20th Century Great

Eliot says that we are the sons of this century. We can make it great and proud with our humanitarian actions. We shall have to work hard for the prosperity of humanity with selfless devotion. Only then will this century become greater than the preceding centuries. We must ensure that this century passes on its gifts to the next generations.

Our Future and Memory of the 20th Century

If we can make this century proud, we may take pride in our role in making it great. In our old age, when we return to the places where we toiled, we will have a sense of satisfaction. History will remember us for our role in the service of humanity.


Departure and Arrival by T S Eliotis full of hope and optimism. The poet believes that our future depends upon our role in the achievement of the causes of humanity. T S Eliot believes that we can achieve this goal if we work hard and work selflessly.

Important Questions

Q1: What is the main idea of the poem Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot?

Q2: What role can we play in making the 20th century great? Write your answer in the light of the poem Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot.

Q3: Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot is a poem of hope and optimism. Discuss.


Departure and Arrival by T S Eliot is a thought-provoking poem. In this poem, Eliot makes us realize our duty as an individual toward the development of human civilization. The poet urges us to play our role in making human history great. He also tries to encourage us to keep pace with the ever-changing circumstances. He wants all of us to fulfil the requirements which the 20th century makes on us. The poem is full of idealism and optimism as the poet believes that we can achieve this goal.

Our Voyage to Progress

The poet says that we are standing at the shore of the coming century. We shall have to start our voyage courageously. In this voyage, our knowledge is our only guide. We have no chart or plan to rely upon. The path to our goal is difficult and full of threats. But we should make our hope our strength and set out at once for the destination. Our destination lies in a bright future for humanity.

Our Duties in the 20th Century

The 20th century calls us to play our role in making it great from the perspective of humanitarian values. The poet says that we do not know what fate holds for us in store. But we should be optimistic. We should try our best to overcome human misery and pain. Since we are the sons of this century, and we must utilize all our energies to make it great. We must try to carve our fate ourselves. As a result of this, this century will become memorable. The coming generations will remember our role in making this century great for many centuries to come.

Hope and Optimism

In Departure and Arrival, T S Eliot expressed hope for a better future for humanity. The poem is full of optimism. The poet believes that the goal of a better future for humanity is achievable. It only needs our dedication and sincerity to attain this goal.

Click for an excellent article on All the World’s a Stay by William Shakespeare.

Leave a Comment