I love Wordsworth and have read most of his shorter poems. I have yet to tackle the entire Prelude or Excursion, although I have read sections.
One thing that jumped to mind was that brief section in "Tradition and the Individual Talent," where Eliot rejects Wordsworth's accounting of poetry as "emotion recollected in tranquility." He famously replaces it by saying, "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" (Sacred Wood 52-53).
And then there is that essay "Wordsworth and Coleridge" (in The Use of Poetry & the Use of Criticism, 1933; somewhat excerpted in Selected Prose, 1953), in which Eliot compares the two major Romantics as poet-critics and ends up preferring Wordsworth: "Of the two poets as critics, it was Wordsworth who knew better what he was about: his critical insight, in this one Preface and the Supplement, is enough to give him the highest place" (UPUC 80). In this essay he also responds to Herbert Read, who had rejected the poetic stream of Milton to Wordsworth as unfortunate, and vaguely defends Wordsworth as a result.
In general, though, it has been my understanding that Eliot rejected the Romantics, and was taught to do so by his professors at Harvard. Am I wrong about this? Sorry, I'm not familiar with the quotation you're looking for. But hope these other bits help.
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Does the list still exist? :-)
This has nothing to do with Eliot, but perhaps it will trigger
something. I've been reading the (1805) _Prelude_. It's been 40 years or
so since I last read it (1850 version); I got into it because I wanted
to see if the book "Books" was relevant to something I was thinking
about, and I had for reasons I don't remember purchased the Norton
edition of the poem a couple years ago. I have no memory of how I
responded to the poem years ago; it certainly did not capture any
But this time I'm enthralled. I've reached Book XI (of 13 in the 1805).
Anyone else on this list a Wordsworth reader? (I have never been
particularly.) I don't remember Eliot saying anything either positive or
negative about him. Someone -- Kenner? Eliot himself? -- remarked of
initial response some of Wordsworth's poems that they found them
difficult but called them ______(?).
Large sections of the poem have the same sort of marvelous control of
syntax that I love in Milton's _Paradise Regained_.