Eliot's practice of writing poetry just to keep his hand in, or what a jazz 
musician would call his or her "chops," seems to be not very unlike runners 
practicing for the Boston marathon. Diana

Carrol Cox <[log in to unmask]> wrote:     Asking "what went into (its) 
preparation" treats writing as though it
were the Boston Marathon.

   By "what went went into its preparation" I simply meant that the poet
   must equip himself for the task. What I had in mind was the following
   passage from Eliot's 'Tradition and the Individual Talent':

   "I am alive to a usual objection to what is clearly part of my
   programme for the métier of poetry. The objection is that the
   doctrine requires a ridiculous amount of erudition (pedantry),
   a claim which can be rejected by appeal to the lives of poets
   in any pantheon. It will even be affirmed that much learning
   deadens or perverts poetic sensibility. While, however, we
   persist in believing that a poet ought to know as much as
   will not encroach upon his necessary receptivity and necessary
   laziness, it is not desirable to confine knowledge to whatever
   can be put into a useful shape for examinations, drawing-rooms,
   or the still more pretentious modes of publicity. Some can absorb
   knowledge, the more tardy must sweat for it. Shakespeare
   acquired more essential history from Plutarch than most men
   could from the whole British Museum. What is to be insisted upon
   is that the poet must develop or procure the consciousness of the
   past and that he should continue to develop this consciousness
   throughout his career."

   Of course, one also assumes in the poet what constitutes an
   essential part of his poetic equipment. To quote from Rukeyser's
   'The Life of Poetry':

   "The creation of a poem, or mathematical creation, involves
   so much sense of arrival, so much selection, so much of the
   desire that makes choice -- even though one or more of these
   may operate in the unconscious or partly conscious work-periods
   before the actual work is achieved -- that the questions raised are
   very pertinent. . . . The poet chooses and selects and has that
   sense of arrival as the poem ends; he is expressing what it feels
   like to arrive at his meanings. If he has expressed that well, his
   reader will arrive at his meanings. The degree of appropriateness
   of expression depends on the preparing. By preparing I mean
   allowing the reader to feel the interdependences, the relations,
   within the poem.

   These inter-dependences may be proved, if you will allow the
   term, in one or more ways: the music by which the syllables
   resolve may lead to a new theme, as in a verbal music, or to a
   climax, a key-relationship which makes -- for the moment --
   an equilibrium; the images may have established their own
   progression in such a way that they serve to mark the poem’s
   development; the tensions and attractions between the poem’s
   meanings may mark its growth, as they must if the poem is to
   achieve its form."

   Of course, there's much more to it than just this :)


   ~ CR

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