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January 27, 2007

Tradition and the Individual Talent

"The emotion of art is impersonal. And the poet cannot reach this impersonality without surrendering himself wholly to the work to be done. And he is not likely to know what is to be done unless he lives in what is not merely the present, but the present moment of the past, unless he is conscious, not of what is dead, but of what is already living."

I chose these lines because they are very intense and passionate about this subject; however, i am a bit confused on whether I completely understand what Eliot is trying to say. T.S. Eliot speaks strongly about a poet having emotion that is impersonal, that is lacking human emotion. I am not entirely sure if Eliot is saying that poets need to step away from their own personal emotions to write a great piece of poetry or that they need to be aware that if their personal emotions are in the poem it will allow for a reader to understand why they wrote a certain piece due to the poet's past.
Eliot also goes on to say that the poet needs to understand that his work is essential and that if his own emotions go into what he is writing then he is not entirely committing himself to the work.

The last line is very deep and hard to make of. If anyone would like to take a shot at it, it would really help me as well.

Posted by Denamarie at January 27, 2007 6:29 PM

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I think you're on the right track with both of your idea on Elliot's intention! The author doesn't need to be filled with overwhelming emotion just to write a strong and meaningful poem; he or she only needs to recall these emotions in order to convey them to the reader. If the poet is aware of his or her emotions, they can either scale them back, so as not to make the poem overbearing with their feelings, or bring them out further, if there is something lacking in the piece. As per Elliot, one should achieve a nice balance between their emotions and feelings, between what they feel now, and what they have felt before.

Posted by: Nessa at January 29, 2007 8:20 AM

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