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Further Discussion on Eliot’s Statement

Discuss about the Modern Poetry Discussion.

Eliot’s words can have a variety of interpretation in poetry. He is a critic, a philosopher and also a poet. He attested to observe what makes a poem aesthetic unlike the other literary pieces like the prose.  He also makes an attempt to explain the relationship that exists between the poet and the poem they write. His comment, that is, “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality,” is a reflection of his thought towards idealism in poetry.

When Eliot says that, “poetry is not a turning loose of emotions but an escape from the emotions”, we can understand it to mean that, when the author writes a poem, the art is not in the sense that he wants to relieve emotions that he has but it would be a way to shed the emotions artistically to the readers of one’s poems (Grayzel, 2014, p. 44). Therefore, the phrase attests to that, the effect of the poem are not necessarily to be felt by the poet but rather, by the reader of the poem (Smidt, 2015, p.133).

On the issue of personality, Eliot means that the writers personality is a key element portrayed in his/her writings. Different writers can be understood and be categorised on the personality they portray. This personality, for example, feminist, idealist personalities that different poets are known with can be important. In conjunction to this, Poetry can be regarded as the literature that would make a link between the reader to the true personality of the poet (Singh, 2015, p.96). Therefore, personality is derived from the emotions reflected by the poet to the reader and the general perception that the reader identifies from the poem. However, Eliot's essay shows that without these things, that is, personality and emotions, the writer would not be able to know how to escape them. Considering the Blood Axe book of the 20th Century poets like Thomas Hardy, Ted Hughes and Wilfred Owen, we can be in a position to settle the claims of the two statement of this discussion. (Lin, Kerstetter, Nawijn & Mitas, 2014, p.416).

In this poem, the case is significantly evident. Owen writes this poem in an emotional period. When he had failed to qualify to join the university and joined the military during the war. He is later shot and his health deteriorates. This places the poem in the traumatic period where he was overwhelmed by worries. However, these emotions seem to be portrayed in the poem. He says that, people are dying like cattle and the voices of the guns are everywhere and uses personification and says, “monstrous anger of the guns.”

In Eliot’s essay, he says, “only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.” Owen felt if first, and then what he felt himself is what he had to write in this poem. The poem seems to create its own scene as poetry do not act to report the incidents and emotions but however, it serves to make an event lived through it, in a form that can speak about itself while remaining wholly itself. For instance, the lines, “…bugles calling for them from sad shires, … but in their eyes, shall shine...” have a relationship of what the poet feels and what he prospects after the settlement of the emotions. In the poem, the poet does not seem to escape away from the emotions. The poet is showing some relief from the tension got from the war. In fact, when he uses the future tense marker, “shall,” he provides an evidence that he does not report the case but his poem is actively a participant to the real incident. The personality of Eliot is elevated in his poem. He is portrayed by his work as an architect and the same time as a mediator. He is altruistic and is portrayed to always campaign for a good course. He is rendered optimistic to face tomorrow. This attests that the personality of the poet is mainly judged by the reader point of view. The reader is able to hold all the evidences portraying personality and make conclusions on the poet’s personality (Dowson, 2015, p.37).

‘Anthem for Doomed Youth’ by Wilfred Owen

Rupert Brooke’s “The Soldier,” is another poem from the Blood axe book written during the first world war. The poet writes this poem when he is about to go to the war. He expresses his loyalty to his country England. He expresses the ‘heaven’ he wants to establish in England through the war they are going to engage in as he says, “If I should die …Gives somewhere back the thoughts by England.” To this incident, he fights emotions, he escapes the feeling of loss if they are in anyway defeated in the war or if he himself dies.  The feelings of emotions can be felt by the readers of the poem as well. The poet, Rupert does not want to have a close encounter with the thing he calls ‘death’ but, if it happens he dies, he takes us to a world of fantasy, he expresses how he would be glad in the world of the dead though in a positive manner as he says, “…think, this heart, all evil shed away.” The poem rhymes with the Eliot’s idea that, “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion.”  The personality however is seen along the lines of the poem. He is a diplomat and a protagonist. Personality can’t be hidden from the authors work. It is an attribute that Rupert does not express but escapes from it, whatsoever, it is evident in the poem (Blair, 2015, p.108).

Eliot also wrote a poem entitled, ‘Gerontion’. He wrote it just after the World War 1. He uses the dramatic monologue as a style to efficiently depict thematic concerns of sexuality, religion and modernity. In the poem, the claims of the statement that, “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality,” seems evident. Through the use of symbolism, he completely escapes the emotions of loss and change that had happened after the war. The title, ‘Gerontion’ is a symbol for the authority in Sparta. He does not turn loose of the emotions of despair but he seems to escape from them as he says, referring to the elders of the council that, “Tenants…, thoughts of a dry brain in a dry season.” He sees confusion all over and regards himself as a bad person, a product of sin and seems to reject the ‘dead world’ which is the ancient desperate Sparta and thinks of Christianity (Eliot, 2014, p.18). The feelings he tends to escape from are the feeling of guilt, despair and disillusion. He as well tries to escape the acquired personality of dynamic and exploration to means of settling through escaping from one’s emotions and personality (Johnston, 2015, p.157). Although Eliot has tried to hide the emotions and fails to address them, in contrast, he tends to escape them fully. He accomplishes running from emotions, but still the audience can feel his desperation, emotional distress and as the persona of the poem they sympathise with him.

Conclusion

In conclusion, Eliot’s statement is valid and supported by virtually all poets of this period. But he concludes to say that, “But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.” A poet is a human being who writes from an existing experience or form imaginations. The thought out product must be felt by the poet first so as he may able to fight the emotions felt from the word he selects. (Selden, Widows & Brooker,2016, p.49). This means that one must possess personality and emotions if they have to fight them.

References

Blair, J. G. (2015). Poetic Art of WH Auden. Princeton University Press.

Dowson, J. (2015). Poetry on Page and Stage. In The History of British Women’s Writing, 1970-Present (pp. 36-50). Palgrave Macmillan UK.

Eliot, T. S. (2014). Selected essays. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Grayzel, S. R. (2014). Women's Identities at War: Gender, Motherhood, and Politics in Britain and France during the First World War. UNC Press Books.

Johnston, J. H. (2015). English Poetry of the First World War. Princeton University Press.

Lin, Y., Kerstetter, D., Nawijn, J., & Mitas, O. (2014). Changes in emotions and their interactions with personality in a vacation context. Tourism Management, 40, 416-424.

Mish, J. C. (2015). Streaming. World Literature Today, 89(5), 72-73.

Selden, R., Widdowson, P., & Brooker, P. (2016). A reader's guide to contemporary literary theory. Routledge.

Singh, G. (2015). Leopardi and the Theory of Poetry. University Press of Kentucky.

Smidt, K. (2015). Poetry and Belief in the Work of TS Eliot. Routledge.

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