… What happens [to the poet in the act of poetic composition] is a continual surrender of himself as he is at the moment to something which is more valuable. The progress of an artist is a continual self-sacrifice, a continual extinction of personality…. the mind of the mature poet differs from that of the immature one … by being a more finely perfectly medium in which special, or very varied, feelings are at liberty to enter into new combinations…. The mind of the poet… may partly or exclusively operate upon the experience of the man himself; but, the more perfect the artist, the more completely separate in him will be the man who suffers, and the mind which creates; the more perfectly will the mind digest and transmute the passions which are its material…. My meaning is, that the poet has, not a ‘personality’ to express, but a particular medium, which is only a medium and not a personality, in which impressions and experiences combine in peculiar and unexpected ways. Impressions and experiences which are important for the man may take no place in the poetry, and those which become important in the poetry may play quite a negligible part in the man, the personality…. It is not in his personal emotions, the emotions provoked by particular events in his life, that the poet is in any way remarkable or interesting.
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- T. S. Eliot (1919)
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number