a significant resource

Dramatic Monologue
Glennis Byron
(New Critical Idiom)
Routledge, 2003
Chapter 6: Modernism and its aftermath

"Eliot and Pound cultivated an 'elusive and impersonal voice' which could suggest the 'mysterious and incalculable nature of the human psyche'." (Alan Sinfield 1977)


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Tuesday, May 14, 2013 8:42 PM: 

If you don't mind, I was just taking into account, courtesy Google, what was being thought on the subject. Here is another account worthy of note.

"Eliot and Pound can be said to create multiple fragmented voices which become a composite voice, a voice which is, ultimately, the voice of the poet." - Glennis Byron

Modernizing the Dramatic Monologue
March 12, 2011 


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Tuesday, May 14, 2013 2:58 PM: 

A note on Eliot's dramatic lyric 


Chokh Raj <[log in to unmask]> wrote Tuesday, May 14, 2013 10:17 AM: 

Thanks, friends, for making some very valuable observations. I shall welcome any more light on the subject. Personally I was thinking of the implications of the dramatic voice in terms of the degree and level of the audience's reception/receptivity of it; a greater degree, I guess, of their involvement in the drama that underlies an utterance -- both a more immediate fascination and a deeper and lasting involvement in the psychological drama inherent in an utterance. And that perhaps accounts for the continued 'dramatic' appeal of Eliot's poetry. 

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window panes;        
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;         
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.


P <[log in to unmask]> wrote Monday, May 13, 2013 1:11 PM: 

I would almost agree. I think the poetry is in the resonant intervals between words and phrases, as in music. Eliot could control the rhythms with great brilliance because he practiced so much (3 hrs/day?), but he found getting the words was like squeezing toothpaste out of a tube (BBC interview or panel discussion I think?).
P. M.

Richard Seddon <[log in to unmask]> wrote Monday, May 13, 2013 12:38 PM: 

Dear List

Hopefully this is not old hat to everyone.

I think to have poetry in the dramatic genre you have to have something besides a scene and a few words encased in quotation marks.  

That said, I think the drama in TSE's poetry occurs in the reader's mind and not on the page.  TSE's poetry provides a kernel of an idea that blossoms in his reader's mind into a vignette that then approaches drama.

Much as in Pound's Imagism, TSE uses powerful metrical language to trigger dramatic sequences in his readers' minds.  To someone just reading the words and not letting his/her mind react to them, this results in a disjointed fractured often jumbled mass of individual poems and that, of course, was not what TSE intended.

Rick Seddon
Portales, NM

P <[log in to unmask]> wrote Monday, May 13, 2013 12:58 PM: 

Eliot discovered that in writing TWL. that's why he became a playwright. Also the discontinuity of TWL is what gives it its dramatic effect, same as the plays, same as religious liturgy. SA & MITC are liturgies. Where you wish to take the subject is up to you.
P. M.

>>> Nancy Gish 05/13/13 12:13 PM >>>

One of his early influences was Browning's dramatic monologues, but I imagine that they appealed to him for just that reason. He has some lyric passages, but Elizabeth Drew called "Rannoch by Glencoe" his only great lyric. I think that is accurate. It is, by the way, a great poem and seldom discussed. Almost all commentary on those landscape poems treats them as if all are New England or as if only those ones count. Nancy Hargrove discussed it in her first book, and a few other critics have mentioned it, but it is not usually addressed.  But the lyric is the voice of the poet; drama needs at least two and usually more voices in some level of conflict. In Eliot it is generally internal. So it allows poetry that is both personal and publicly distanced.
My point is that it is difficult to say what that means for his work except that he chose it and was very good at creating many voices. Oddly, the characters in his plays are often not very human; I think he really caught voices in the early poems and in "Sweeney Agonistes." And often they are real voices. Ellen Kellond, his and Viv's maid, repeated to him the pub dialogue in "A Game of Chess," and he included it.
One possible view is that he used voices as masks or characters to remain supposedly "impersonal." But I think they are many parts of himself. There is a great deal of evidence for that. But for the poetry it creates a fascinating kind of representation of the self.

>>> Chokh Raj 05/13/13 11:20 AM >>> 

The voice of Eliot's poetry is essentially dramatic.

Could the list elaborate on its implications for his poetry? 

Not a new subject, though. So you'll kindly excuse me.