Defunctive music under sea
Passed seaward with the passing bell
Slowly: the God Hercules
Had left him, that had loved him well.
The horses, under the
Beat up the dawn from Istria
With even feet.
The smoky candle end of time / Declines.
Who clipped the lion’s wings
And flea’d his rump and pared his claws?
Thought Burbank, meditating on
Time’s ruins, and the seven laws.
-- TS Eliot, 'Burbank'
Well, one could certainly
relate Eliot's classicism to his religious/spiritual quest, a quest to relate to a higher, timeless order. - CR
THE CLASSICISM OF T.S. ELIOT
By Toni Pascual
This essay does not undertake to give an account of Eliot's turning his attention to the literature of the past, or to sketch the different authors and periods that merit his predilection. Rather it is an attempt to describe a particular sensibility through which Eliot perceives the tradition. Moreover, this peculiar readiness to apprehend and revere an external order is what ultimately gives rise to the idea of tradition, and sets the tradition as a pattern of works and authors of the past that the poet must know. Derived from the notion of tradition is that of classicism; this can roughly be defined as the pursuit of order and external authority on the part of the individual artist, which makes him resign his illusion of originality in order to acknowledge his debt to dead authors. The masters of the past set up a pattern to imitate, a pattern that may already be found in the present to a greater or lesser extent but after which the artist must always strive, because only by its origin in the past can the occurrence of this pattern in the present be explained. This pattern stems from the common assumption that there is a bulk of human experience, timeless and universal, distilled from
the life and circumstance of men in all ages, which can therefore be perceived and conveyed by different authors writing in different languages and at different periods of time. Thus the dead authors become classics, and their recovery is an essential condition to give full meaning to both the present and the past. Classicism can also be set, because of its [deprecation] of originality and its impersonal view of art, in opposition to Romanticism.
//Apparent in the whole manner of his lifetime's (dialectical) reasoning, for example........ //