Eliot's Deeper Level of Poetry Means Surrender of the Self

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      Poetry according to T.S. Eliot is not an expression of personality or felt emotion; it is not a turning loose of emotion but an escape from emotion, it is not an expression of the personality but an escape from personality, as he says in his essay Tradition and the Individual Talent. The intrusion of the personal element into the structure of a work of art will destroy the objectivity which is necessary for aesthetic appreciation. The mind of poet is a receptacle of numberless feelings, phrases, images and thoughts, but he mere outpouring of these items does not result in poetry. The poet's mind is to act as a catalyst affecting a spontaneous fusion of disparate experiences to create 'new wholes'. Thus the emotions and the personality of the poet become depersonalized and become significant in the poem rather than in the history of the poet. The Impersonal theory of poetry is one of the most important critical concepts of Eliot.

      It is naturally interesting to examine how a Eliot himself practiced his critical tenets in The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock though a subjective note is present in the 'I' of the poem, Eliot does succeed in extinction of personality in that the irony is made to reflect a general human condition. In the Poems of 1920, Eliot seems to adhere more firmly to his theory of impersonality - as for instance in Burbank with a Baedeker, where disparaged views are amalgamated into a unified impression. In The Waste Land, theory and practice, to a large extent, amalgamate. The predicament of the contemporary situation is expressed in terms of an objective correlative in the myths. In the myths, Eliot finds the situation and incident which act as objective correlatives for his emotions. The images, thoughts and ideas from various sources are fused to make the poem a work of art. Thus we see in Eliot's poetry a surrender or extinction of personality in order to achieve universal significance for he writes

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