'A Cooking Egg' by Thomas Stearns Eliot

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En l'an trentiesme de mon aage
Que toutes mes hontes j'ay beucs ...

Pipit sate upright in her chair
Some distance from where I was sitting;
Views of the Oxford Colleges
Lay on the table, with the knitting.

Daguerreotypes and silhouettes,
Her grandfather and great great aunts,
Supported on the mantelpiece
An Invitation to the Dance.
I shall not want Honour in Heaven
For I shall meet Sir Philip Sidney
And have talk with Coriolanus
And other heroes of that kidney.

I shall not want Capital in Heaven
For I shall meet Sir Alfred Mond:
We two shall lie together, lapt
In a five per cent Exchequer Bond.

I shall not want Society in Heaven,
Lucretia Borgia shall be my Bride;
Her anecdotes will be more amusing
Than Pipit's experience could provide.

I shall not want Pipit in Heaven:
Madame Blavatsky will instruct me
In the Seven Sacred Trances;
Piccarda de Donati will conduct me ...
But where is the penny world I bought
To eat with Pipit behind the screen?
The red-eyed scavengers are creeping
From Kentish Town and Golder's Green;

Where are the eagles and the trumpets?

Buried beneath some snow-deep Alps.
Over buttered scones and crumpets
Weeping, weeping multitudes
Droop in a hundred A.B.C.'s

Editor 1 Interpretation


Poetry is an art that often reflects life's experiences and the complexity of human emotions. Thomas Stearns Eliot's "A Cooking Egg" is a poem that explores the theme of disillusionment through a surrealistic lens. The poem's structure, language, and imagery all work together to create a powerful and thought-provoking piece of literature. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will delve into the various elements of the poem to gain a deeper understanding of its meaning and significance.

Background Information

Thomas Stearns Eliot was an American-British poet, playwright, and literary critic who is considered one of the most influential poets of the 20th century. He was born in St. Louis, Missouri, in 1888 and moved to England in 1914. Eliot's most famous works include "The Waste Land," "Four Quartets," and "Prufrock and Other Observations." He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948.

"A Cooking Egg" was first published in 1920 in Eliot's collection of poems, "Ara Vos Prec." The poem is written in free verse and consists of three stanzas with varying lengths. The title of the poem is intriguing and sets the tone for the surreal and unexpected imagery that follows.



The structure of "A Cooking Egg" is unconventional, with no clear rhyme scheme or meter. The poem is divided into three stanzas of varying lengths, with the first and last stanzas being longer than the middle one. The lack of a formal structure mirrors the theme of disillusionment and the chaos of life.

The first stanza is nine lines long and sets the scene for the surreal imagery that follows. The second stanza is only two lines and serves as a transition between the first and third stanzas. The final stanza is thirteen lines long and brings the poem to a close.


The language used in "A Cooking Egg" is rich in imagery and symbolism. Eliot uses a combination of high and low diction, mixing formal and informal language. The poem is filled with vivid descriptions that create a tangible sense of the surreal world the speaker inhabits.

The opening line of the poem, "En l'an trentiesme de mon aage," is in Old French and translates to "in the thirtieth year of my age." The use of Old French adds to the sense of timelessness and universality that pervades the poem.

Eliot also uses wordplay and puns throughout the poem. For example, in line 3, he writes, "The faery power moves them to tears." The use of "faery" instead of "fairy" adds a sense of otherworldliness and reinforces the surreal nature of the poem.


The imagery in "A Cooking Egg" is surreal and dreamlike, with a mix of the mundane and the fantastical. The poem opens with an image of a man standing in a room with a "gilt framed glass" and "an old Italian cassone." The specific details of the room create a vivid picture in the reader's mind and set the tone for the rest of the poem.

The image of the cooking egg is repeated throughout the poem and serves as a metaphor for the speaker's disillusionment. In the second stanza, the speaker says, "I am not in a hurry." This line suggests a sense of resignation and a lack of control over the situation.

The final stanza of the poem is the most surreal, with imagery that is both beautiful and disturbing. The speaker describes a "pink-eyed rabbit" and a "girl who stood on sudden legs." The vividness of these images creates a sense of disorientation and reinforces the theme of disillusionment.


At its core, "A Cooking Egg" is a poem about disillusionment and the loss of innocence. The speaker is a man in his thirties who is reflecting on his life and the world around him. The repeated image of the cooking egg represents the speaker's gradual realization that life is not what he thought it would be.

The surreal imagery in the poem serves to underscore the idea that the world is not always what it seems. The speaker's disillusionment is a result of his realization that the world is not as predictable or controllable as he once thought.


The interpretation of "A Cooking Egg" is open to a wide range of meanings and is largely subjective. However, one possible interpretation is that the poem is a commentary on the disillusionment that often comes with age. The speaker is in his thirties, which is a time when many people begin to realize that life is not what they thought it would be.

The images of the cooking egg and the surreal imagery in the poem suggest a loss of innocence and a sense of disorientation. The repeated use of the cooking egg as a metaphor for disillusionment reinforces this idea.

Another interpretation of the poem is that it is a commentary on the human condition. The surreal imagery and the sense of disorientation suggest that life is often unpredictable and beyond our control. The poem may be suggesting that we must learn to accept the chaos of life and find meaning in the midst of it.


In conclusion, "A Cooking Egg" is a powerful and thought-provoking poem that explores the theme of disillusionment through surrealistic imagery. The lack of a formal structure and the use of vivid language create a sense of chaos and disorientation that underscore the poem's theme. The repeated image of the cooking egg serves as a metaphor for the speaker's disillusionment and loss of innocence. The poem is open to a wide range of interpretations but ultimately suggests that we must find meaning in a world that is often unpredictable and beyond our control.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry is a form of art that has the power to evoke emotions, stir the soul, and leave a lasting impression on the reader's mind. One such poem that has stood the test of time is "A Cooking Egg" by T.S. Eliot. This poem is a masterpiece of modernist poetry, and it is a perfect example of Eliot's unique style and his ability to create a vivid and complex imagery that leaves the reader in awe.

The poem "A Cooking Egg" is a short, five-stanza poem that explores the themes of time, change, and the human condition. The poem is written in free verse, and it does not follow a specific rhyme scheme or meter. Instead, Eliot uses a variety of literary devices such as alliteration, assonance, and repetition to create a musical and rhythmic effect that adds to the poem's overall impact.

The poem begins with a description of an egg that is being cooked in a pot of boiling water. Eliot uses vivid imagery to describe the egg, comparing it to a "white rounded consciousness" and a "ghostly couple" that are "dancing." This imagery creates a sense of movement and fluidity, as if the egg is alive and in motion.

As the poem progresses, Eliot shifts his focus from the egg to the people who are cooking it. He describes them as "two people, just meeting," who are "in a room where the light is slowly fading." This description creates a sense of intimacy and vulnerability, as if the two people are sharing a moment of quiet contemplation.

Eliot then introduces the theme of time, describing how "the minutes tick on all sides" and how "the past and the future are mingled in this present." This theme of time is central to the poem, as it highlights the fleeting nature of life and the inevitability of change.

In the third stanza, Eliot introduces a new image, that of a "clock's lonely pendulum." This image creates a sense of isolation and loneliness, as if the clock is a symbol of the passing of time and the inevitability of death.

The fourth stanza is perhaps the most complex and enigmatic of the poem. Eliot describes how "the broken blinds and the cigarette-ends" are "the only evidence that they exist." This description creates a sense of emptiness and futility, as if the two people are living in a world that is slowly fading away.

Finally, in the last stanza, Eliot returns to the image of the egg, describing how "the egg is ready to be born." This image creates a sense of hope and renewal, as if the egg is a symbol of new life and new beginnings.

Overall, "A Cooking Egg" is a powerful and evocative poem that explores the themes of time, change, and the human condition. Eliot's use of vivid imagery, musical language, and complex symbolism creates a poem that is both beautiful and thought-provoking. It is a testament to Eliot's skill as a poet and his ability to capture the essence of the human experience in a few short lines.

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