A Cooking Egg

A Cooking Egg

Original Text

T. S. Eliot, Poems (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1920): 22-23. E546 A753 1920a Fisher Rare Book Library.

     En l'an trentiesme de mon aage
     Que toutes mes hontes j'ay beues ...
2Some distance from where I was sitting;
4Lay on the table, with the knitting.
6Her grandfather and great great aunts,
7Supported on the mantelpiece
. . . . .
9I shall not want Honour in Heaven
13I shall not want Capital in Heaven
17I shall not want Society in Heaven,
19Her anecdotes will be more amusing
20Than Pipit's experience could provide.
21I shall not want Pipit in Heaven:
23In the Seven Sacred Trances;
27The red-eyed scavengers are creeping
30Buried beneath some snow-deep Alps.
31Over buttered scones and crumpets
32Weeping, weeping multitudes


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. Back to Line
3] A picture book, such as W. A. Delamotte's Original Views of Oxford, its Colleges, Chapels, and Gardens (London: Thomas Boyes, 1843). Back to Line
5] Daguerreotypes: early photographs produced on a silver-covered copper plate. Back to Line
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). Back to Line
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. Back to Line
11] Coriolanus: Roman general and hero of Shakespeare's tragedy of the same name. Back to Line
12] kidney: "sort." Back to Line
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). Back to Line
15] lapt: folded about. Back to Line
16] a personal loan to the British State Treasury guaranteed to yield 5% interest. Back to Line
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. Back to Line
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. Back to Line
24] Piccarda de Donati: a nun in Dante's Paradiso, III, formerly a nun who broke her vows. Back to Line
25] penny world: candies and cakes that can be had for a penny. Back to Line
26] behind the screen: children like Pipit were sometimes made to eat behind one. Back to Line
28] Kentish Town and Golder's Green: suburbs in north London, near which Eliot lived during the first World War. Back to Line
29] the eagles are the symbol of the Roman empire. Back to Line
33] "I.e. an endemic teashop, found in all parts of London. The initials signify: Aerated Bread Company, Limited." [Eliot's note] Back to Line
Publication Start Year
Publication Notes
Coterie 1 (May-Dec. 1919): 44-45. In England published in an almost identical book, Ara Vos Prec (London: Ovid Press, [1920]). Donald Gallup, T. S. Eliot: A Bibliography (London: Faber and Faber, 1969): A4b, C81
RPO poem Editors
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition
RPO 1998.
Special Copyright

© T.S. Eliot and Faber and Faber Ltd 1974