This is a very interesting question. I have been asked it before and would like to respond when I have time. But I presume, like Eliot, I separate the life and work. I do not have to "love" him to love his work. I do, of course, admire enormously what he achieved.

>>> Ken Armstrong 02/19/13 11:19 AM >>>
So in effect it neither requires forgiveness nor is it unfortunate. Those are just expressions. I sort of agree with you on the casual usage, and again on the more focused scores of it's not being unfortunate nor requiring forgiveness..

For myself, as someone who when young and naive lionized Pound, I don't forgive Pound his fascism or his anti-semitism, which would be empty gestures is any case. But neither do I think it necessary to do so to admire, even love, the work and in important respects the man. I suppose it throws a hot burning ball of wax into everything, but I don't see how one spends years studying, admiring, and loving a poet's work -- in communion with it as it were -- without in a real sense having a personal stake in that poet's life, i.e.without admiring, even loving the man himself or the woman herself, failings notwithstanding. Either it gets integrated into the whole, or one is not integrated. 

Ken A

On 2/19/2013 10:00 AM, Nancy Gish wrote:

The use of "forgivable" in this phrase does not mean that anyone is "forgiving" Eliot as an individual. It simply means that the fact of bad poetry at 17 is in a general sense a forgivable event. As I noted, I can "forgive" the very bad poetry of Keats or MacDiarmid for their first tries. No one is being theological or judicial. It's a common expression. One might say of a small child that a tantrum is forgivable because of age; adults lying on their backs and screaming and kicking are probably not forgivable. This is a pointless red herring.

But we are all in a position to evaluate any poet or poetry. One "forgives" Pound his Facism, I presume, in order to appreciate the poetry. This is hardly comparable. But I presume my own love of Eliot's work always includes a similar "forgiving" of its inclusion of misogynist images and many views I think wrong. In fact, it is no doubt the very mixed and struggling person who was able to write like that. He was not a saint or a god but an often very troubled human. The word--and many English words--is used in many ways, as you know. And you know better than to read it this way for any serious reason. In a moral sense, I don't forgive Eliot at all or not forgive him for things I consider wrong (I never met him and have no personal stake--nor do you I presume): I study the work. This is about the poetry, though I have no idea why there should need to be any explanation.