In the Left Corner, Weighing 200 Pounds, is T.S. Eliot!
From "Tradition and the Individual Talent" by T.S. Eliot:
"Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality."
I'm not quite sure what T.S. Eliot meant by this statement. It seems that he is simply saying that poetry, emotion, and personality are three separate entities. To that, I have to say that just as the definition of "literature" is debatable, so is the definition of poetry. Poetry seems to be (sometimes) whatever you want it to be. An example of a poem that Iis debatably a poem is "The Red Wheelbarrow" by William Carlos Williams. The whole poem is so short, I've rewritten it below and actually have it memorized:
"so much depends
a red wheel
glazed with rain
beside the white
Why is this poem famous? I remember reading it in high school and honestly, my nephews who were 6 at the time could have produced this poem. This poem reminds me of the artist who got famous for painting a canvas white. Getting famous for such little work seems genius of them, but stupid of the admirers.
Back to the point, a poem is whatever you want it to be. I guess that even the example above counts, even though someone with no talent could write it. I'm not saying that William Carlos Williams has no talent, but simply that that poem in particular is a joke, but nevertheless, has its impact. After all, I do have it memorized for its ridiculousness. If you write a poem to express an emotion such as love, this statement that poetry is "not a turning loose of emotion" is certainly false. And when one writes poetry, little bits of herself or himself manages to trickle through and onto the page no matter what.
Even the reader of a poem's emotions and personality can show by what he or she chooses to read. If sad, I may choose to read Emily Dickinson. If in love, I may want to turn to a Shakespearean sonnet.
When it all comes down to it, I think Eliot was mistaken. Poetry can be what it wants to be, there is no discrimination.
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