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Frances Rushworth wrote:

> I originally intended to write asking if anyone knew what TSE saw as
> the purpose of poetry in general and his own in particular.  Was it
> simply self-expression?  I would still like to know - I have only read
> the poetry, not the autobiographies or critiques.


I always get the impression when reading Eliot's critiques of what a
poet does that he generalizes on his own experience and feelings.  At
least to me, he doesn't seem to justify why all poets are included.  I
would think this would be a topic for some future time but it would
mean that I would have to go back to his essays and I find that a
royal pain.  Anyway, here is a bit of Eliot on poets:

T.S. Eliot in "The Three Voices of Poetry" (annotated by me):

    I agree with Gottfried Benn, and I would go a little further.  In a
    poem which is neither didactic nor narrative, and not animated by
any
    other social purpose, the poet[411] may be concerned solely with
    expressing in verse--using all his resources of words, with their
    history, their connotations, their music--this obscure impulse.  He
    does not know what he has to say until he has said it; and in the
    effort to say it he is not concerned, at this stage, with other
people
    at all: only with finding the right words or, anyhow, the least
wrong
    words.  He is not concerned whether anybody else will ever
understand
    them if he does.  He is oppressed by a burden which he must bring to
    birth in order to obtain relief.  Or, to change the figure of
speech,
    he is haunted by a demon, a demon against which he feels powerless,
    because in its first manifestation it has no face, no name, nothing;
    and the words, the poem he makes, are a kind of form of exorcism of
    this demon.  In other words again, he is going to all that trouble,
    not in order to communicate with anyone, but to gain relief from
acute
    discomfort; and when the words are finally arranged in the right
    way--or in what he comes to accept as the best arrangement he can
    find--he may experience a moment of exhaustion, of appeasement, of
    absolution, and of something very near annihilation, which is in
    itself indescribable.[433] And then he can say to the poem: 'Go
away!
    Find a place for your self in a book--and don't expect me to take
any
    further interest in you.'


Eliot's notes to TWL inserted by me into his "The Three Voices of
Poetry"

411.  Cf. Inferno, XXXIII, 46:

               ed io sentii chiavar l'uscio di sotto
               all'orribile torre.
  
      Also F. H. Bradley, Appearance and Reality, p. 346.

               My external sensations are no less private to myself
               than are my thoughts or my feelings. In either case
               my experience falls within my own circle, a circle
               closed on the outside;and, with all its elements alike,
               every sphere is opaque to the others which surround
               it. . . . In brief, regarded as an existence which
               appears in a soul, the whole world for each is
               peculiar and private to that soul.


433.  Shantih.  Repeated as here, a formal ending to an Upanishad.
      'The Peace which passeth understanding' is a feeble translation
      of the content of this word.


Regards,
    Rick Parker


P.S.  Thanks for the thanks Frances, I often wonder how many of my
links get followed.  And I don't know how to translate "Dude, that's
whack" either.