>What's the point of complimenting a dead guy? No, I am trying to analyze
>how his poetry manages to be so emotionally moving when he takes
>emotional sterility, the feeling of being neither alive nor dead, as his
>subject. How can a poet so reticent about expressing emotion express it
>so effectively? As a poet I would like to know how he manages that. Diana
I don’t think Eliot's subject is emotional sterility as much as it is the
terror of being caught in a life/world that is emotionally sterile. The
power of Eliot's poetry comes from the narrator deeply understanding this
terror and reacting to it.
This thought was much better expressed by Randall Jarrell (talking about
Eliot) in this passage:
Won't the future say to us in helpless astonishment: "But did you actually
believe that all those things about objective correlatives, classicism, the
tradition, applied to _his_ poetry? Surely you must have seen that he was
one of the most subjective and daemonic poets who ever lived, the victim and
helpless beneficiary of his own inexorable compulsions, obsessions? From the
psychoanalytical point of view he was far and away the most interesting poet
of your century. But for you, of course, after the first few years, his
poetry existed undersea, thousands of feet below that deluge of exegesis,
explication, source listing, scholarship, and criticism that overwhelmed it.
And yet how bravely and personally it survived, its eyes neither coral nor
mother-pf-pearl but plainly human, full of human anguish!
The above quote is from "Fifty Years of American Poetry" by Randall Jarrell
(Reprinted in "No other book: selected essays" by Randall Jerrell).
You can see the text of the Jarrell book at this link:
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