Things that Cling: Marine Attachments in Eliot

Rachel Murray*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


T.S. Eliot was captivated by marine life forms, particularly creatures that cling. From the “ragged claws” of ancient crustaceans to the firm foothold of the “delicate algae and the sea anemone,” Eliot’s writing is full of creatures whose instinct is to “ hold on tight” while the sea tosses them about. Eliot’s marine imagery is bound up with his thinking about the enabling possibilities of attachment—an idea that runs counter to his longstanding critical reputation as a poet of detachment. From his early reading of biological texts to his late critical writing, Eliot’s work demonstrates a recurrent interest in attachment that serves to complicate and enrich our understanding of his aesthetics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)21-38
Number of pages17
JournalJournal of Modern Literature
Issue number3
Early online date23 Jul 2022
Publication statusPublished - 23 Jul 2022
Externally publishedYes


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