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Does it not depend what is meant by "progress"?  The Four Quartets are
very different from early work, but in some ways they deal with common
material.  And some readers feel his later work was less powerful than the
early.  So if it clearly has changed, is that necessarily progress or if so, is
it better?  One might say it is like two very different modes of poetry.

I would certainly agree that late poems are not the same poem, but I don't
think he ever got better than TWL.
Nancy





Date sent:              Wed, 26 Feb 2003 23:32:05 EST
Send reply to:          "T. S. Eliot Discussion forum." <[log in to unmask]>
From:                   [log in to unmask]
Subject:                Polyphiloprogenitive
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In a message dated 2/26/03 3:45:13 PM Pacific Standard Time,
[log in to unmask] writes:


> While Eliot writes the same poem again and again

So untrue.  You may say that Eliot rewrites Dante again and again but his
poems progress and even drop any ennui by 1935 or so.  The Four
Quartets
is _far_ too hopeful and reassuring to be "the same poem" as _The Waste
Land_, Prufrock, or (more bleakly) Gerontion or the Coming of the Magi.
In fact, it is difficult to say that Eliot is merely rewriting Dante.  By
the time of 4Q he is dealing squarely with Milton, something that
culminates in Murder in the Cathedral (this is because Milton decided that
tragedy no longer belonged in English Theatre and Eliot decided that it
did). To say that Eliot did not progress as a poet is to have no idea what
you are reading when you read Eliot.

Michael