Thanks, Rick, for your response. I didn't mean to put you into the position of
of having to clarify thoughts that amaze, but privately. Just as the poet
brings everything that he or she is to each poem, so as readers we bring
ourselves to everything we do. There is only one point that I'll take up, since
I didn't make it clear why I asked the question I did.
> > Why is TWL any more personal than thousands of other lyric poems?
> I didn't say that and I don't think I implied it either. I would say
> that TWL is rather impersonal for a personal poem. You don't see Eliot
> on the surface of the poem. And that means he did a pretty good job of
> doing what he wrote about in his criticism.
I was responding to your previous post where you wrote "Did you ever see a
quasi-autobiography in this form
before?" I took this to be a suggestion that TWL is unique in regard to the
proportion of the thinly disguised reporting of the facts of a life and some
other sort of content, which I don't think it is. (As you can see I'm not sure
how to phrase this, since I used "personal" originally to keep to your terms,
but when I think about it, the distinction between the personal and the
impersonal falls apart. This is yet another way of repeating what I said in the
previous post and in this one--everthing we do is us.) I'm sorry if I misread
you and asked a question that was not helpful to the point you are making.
I can't explain how the following story is pertinent, but it feels so to
me. A friend of mine was at the Iowa workshop in the 1950s. He knew there a
man who was to become a wonderful poet, and even have public acknowledgment in
the form of a Pulitzer. My friend, the younger of the two, was a fiction
writer, but, because of his utter devotion to literature, also attended the
poetry side of things. He asked the other writer how he could write when he had
all this technical knowledge of poetry. The poet said that in the writing he
separated (and here I paraphrase) the man who knew from the man who wrote. Of
course, in reading his poems, or any poems worth the second read, the craft
makes itself apparent. Keats, if we believe what he wrote in a letter, is not
alone in combining the acts of composition and (self-) criticism.
In sympathy with your trepidation about committing oneself in keystrokes,