from the opening chapter, 'Auditory Imagination,' in The Art of T.S. Eliot 

"Four Quartets is the mature achievement of a poet who has in a long period of experiment effected a modification and an enrichment of the whole English poetic tradition. It is impossible to believe that poets a hundred years hence will not be aware of what Mr Eliot has done with the English language. They may be developing his way of writing, or they may be reacting against it; they will, one feels certain, be conscious of his poetry as part of their poetic inheritance. Such a modification works backwards as well as forwards. His poetry, in becoming part of English literature, has modified our reading of earlier poetry. We, who have grown up with it, find that we read earlier poetry to some extent through it. It has affected our taste and judgment, by awakening responses to what we might otherwise not have noticed, and by attuning our ears to particular poetic effects and rhythms. Most important of all, it has made us more critically alert to the language of poets. By refreshing the poetic vocabulary of our own day, Mr Eliot has refreshed our appreciation of the poetic diction of earlier poets. He has made us more aware of its different vigour, by making us conscious of the potentialities of the language which we make dull by our common use." 


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Wednesday, November 14, 2012 5:12 PM:

Yes, the book is right now with me and bears marks of many a reading I've given it.
I shall undergo the labour of love all over again!
Thanks Peter, and David.

From: P <[log in to unmask]>;
To: <[log in to unmask]>;
Subject: Re: Fwd: Re: OT (sort of) Philology. Sort of.
Sent: Wed, Nov 14, 2012 7:16:55 PM

Look in The Art of T.S.Eliot
P. M.

Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

The book should be with me within a week and I should be with you on it soon. 

And thanks, Peter, for bringing up the subject. I'll try to find what Dame Gardner said on it. 


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Wednesday, November 14, 2012 10:33 AM:


T.S. Eliot and the Language of Poetry (Studies in Modern Philology)
By Ferenc Takacs

I'd urge my library to acquire it for me, or help me access it. 


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Wednesday, November 14, 2012 9:53 AM:

But Dame Philology is our Queen still, Quick to comfort Truth-loving hearts in their mother tongue (to report On the miracles She has wrought In the U.K., the O.E.D. Takes fourteen tomes): She suffers no evil, And a statesman still, so Her grace prevent, may keep a treaty, A poor commoner arrive at The Proper Name for his cat. -- W. H. Auden, "A Short Ode to a Philologist"


P <[log in to unmask]> wrote Wed, Nov 14, 2012 9:10:12 AM:  

One obvious place to start would be the homage to Dante in Little Gidding, but perhaps that is a special case because it is such direct stylistic creation, outstanding though it be. A more appropriate example is MITC which uses the Anglo-Saxon and medieval rhythms of works like Everyman. That was quite deliberate as Eliot himself said. I believe Helen Gardner remarked on it more fully somewhere.

Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote: 

That facility and through that facility getting at the essence of things.
Thus, for instance, not merely learning Sanskrit but through it
getting at the heart of ancient Indian wisdom.
The marvel ceases not.


Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]> wrote Mon, Nov 12, 2012 8:35:53 AM:

Mark Twain once said, "My philological studies have satisfied me that a gifted person ought to learn English (barring spelling and pronouncing) in thirty hours, French in thirty days, and German in thirty years."

Eliot seems to have learned them all, all at once, not to mention Latin and Sanskrit.

I don't recall our having discussed Eliot's facility with language, which it seems to me to have been quite phenomenal and one of the things that makes his work so incredibly attractive. I know it is gauche on this list to say nice things about Eliot, but there it is. I've done it and I'm very glad.