Sunday, September 28, 2014

No Escape

Ann Althouse relays a T.S. Eliot quote:

"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. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things."

I have a love-hate relationship with Eliot.

If he thinks he didn't express his personality in his poetry, he's crazy. Yes, when you write a poem you create an object which has some separateness from you. It never reflects your whole personality. But it definitely reflects some.

As for "let emotion loose vs. escape from emotion", it's a classic false alternative. It's obvious that poetry is typically an integration of thought and feeling. That's why it expresses personality so well, perhaps even more thoroughly than the other arts.

What is sought
is a merger of feeling and thought
crafted for the ear.

But it doesn't make the poet disappear.

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