I shall be, perhaps, more lucid if I give, briefly, the history of the vorticist art with which I am most intimately connected, that is to say, vorticist poetry. Imagisme, in so far as it has been known at all, has been known chiefly as a stylistic movement, as a movement of criticism rather than of creation.
Essays on Poetry and Criticism Eliot attempts to do two things in this essay: It has shaped generations of poets, critics and theorists and is a key text in modern literary criticism. In English writing we seldom speak of tradition, though we occasionally apply its name in deploring its absence.
If otherwise, it is vaguely approbative, with the implication, as to the work approved, of some pleasing archaeological reconstruction.
You can hardly make the word agreeable to English ears without this comfortable reference to the reassuring science of archaeology.
Certainly the word is not likely to appear in our appreciations of living or dead writers.
Every nation, every race, has not only its own creative, but its own critical turn of mind; and is even more oblivious of the shortcomings and limitations of its critical habits than of those of its creative genius. Perhaps they are; but we might remind ourselves that criticism is as inevitable as breathing, and that we should be none the worse for articulating what passes in our minds when we read a book and feel an emotion about it, for criticizing our own minds in their work of criticism.
One of the facts that might come to light in this process is our tendency to insist, when we praise a poet, upon those aspects of his work in which he least resembles any one else.
In these aspects or parts of his work we pretend to find what is individual, what is the peculiar essence of the man. Whereas if we approach a poet without this prejudice we shall often find that not only the best, but the most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously.
And I do not mean the impressionable period of adolescence, but the period of full maturity. We have seen many such simple currents soon lost in the sand; and novelty is better than repetition.
Tradition is a matter of much wider significance. It cannot be inherited, and if you want it you must obtain it by great labour. It involves, in the first place, the historical sense, which we may call nearly indispensable to any one who would continue to be a poet beyond his twenty-fifth year; and the historical sense involves a perception, not only of the pastness of the past, but of its presence; the historical sense compels a man to write not merely with his own generation in his bones, but with a feeling that the whole of the literature of Europe from Homer and within it the whole of the literature of his own country has a simultaneous existence and composes a simultaneous order.
This historical sense, which is a sense of the timeless as well as of the temporal and of the timeless and of the temporal together, is what makes a writer traditional.
And it is at the same time what makes a writer most acutely conscious of his place in time, of his own contemporaneity. No poet, no artist of any art, has his complete meaning alone.
His significance, his appreciation is the appreciation of his relation to the dead poets and artists. You cannot value him alone; you must set him, for contrast and comparison, among the dead.
I mean this as a principle of aesthetic, not merely historical, criticism. The necessity that he shall conform, that he shall cohere, is not onesided; what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.
The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new the really new work of art among them. The existing order is complete before the new work arrives; for order to persist after the supervention of novelty, the whole existing order must be, if ever so slightly, altered; and so the relations, proportions, values of each work of art toward the whole are readjusted; and this is conformity between the old and the new.
Whoever has approved this idea of order, of the form of European, of English literature will not find it preposterous that the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past. And the poet who is aware of this will be aware of great difficulties and responsibilities.
In a peculiar sense he will be aware also that he must inevitably be judged by the standards of the past. I say judged, not amputated, by them; not judged to be as good as, or worse or better than, the dead; and certainly not judged by the canons of dead critics.
It is a judgment, a comparison, in which two things are measured by each other.T.S. Eliot is a modernist writer who was extremely influential in his time. He disregarded Victorian elements and transgressed the boundaries set by his literary precursors.
His approach to writing influenced artists like Philip Larkin who went ahead to become famous writers. This essay proposes to halt at the frontier of metaphysics or mysticism, and confine itself to such practical conclusions as can be applied by the responsible person interested in poetry.
impersonal poetics. Eliot, T.S. "Tradition and the Individual Talent." In The Sacred Wood: Essays on Poetry and Criticism (). The essay in which Eliot writes, "The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality. I've recently taken a personal interest in T.S.
Eliot. When I went to talk to one of my professors, an Eliot scholar, about Eliot's poems, he gave me a copy of The Selected Prose.
The essay is itself a celebration and a sustained and studied recognition of the wholeness of Eliot's poetry. It is a formidable and valuable discourse.
T.S. Eliot changed the face of poetry. He has been regarded as the most celebrated poet of his era. This Nobel Prize winning poet is credited with viewing the world as 5/5(1).