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That is what Eliot said, but although Eliot denies  "improvement," I
think it is precisely a change IN KIND that he describes.  It is an
"awareness of the past in a way and to an extent which the past's
awareness of itself cannot show."  It is "a development which abandons
nothing en route."  It is difficult to see how a consciousness of
Shakespeare AND Dante, AND Eliot AND Hildegarde von Bingen AND Aphra
Behn AND Marianne Moore, which is a consciousness they did not have,
could not be a change IN KIND.

(I am merely noting here what Eliot said, as I do not necessarily agree
with all his claims--though I think he was right in his claim that the
present changes the past as much as the past changes the present.)
Nancy
P.S.  Who is the "we," to whom you refer, that is not in quotation
marks?--Many poets do not assimilate themselves to Eliot's chosen
tradition.  Scots, for example, may--as MacDiarmid called for--choose
the Gaelic tradition, which is, as he pointed out, as ancient as the
Greek and Roman.

>>> [log in to unmask] 04/02/05 8:21 AM >>>
--On Friday, April 01, 2005 9:22 PM -0500 Nancy Gish
<[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:

> "Someone said:  'The dead writers are remote from us because we know
so
> much more than they did.'.  Precisely, and they are that which we
know."

 Precisely. They are the tradition to which we must assimilate ourselves
if 
we want to be a poet after the age of 25. But our genius and their
history 
does not change IN KIND for that assimilation.

Ken A.