PDA

View Full Version : An argument of insidious intent



Olly Buckle
February 12th, 2014, 09:56 PM
The argument is put that poetry expressing emotion until it is overwhelmed by it, is missing the point.
The point is not to let the emotion loose, it is to get away from it; the intellect can not ignore it, it can examine it, collect it, pin it, pay homage to its beauty; thus distance itself for indivdual survival. The point is not to push the personality, it is an escape, a way for the poet to distance their self from personality. The poet putting the argument then stated that he felt it obvious only those who experienced emotion and had personalities would understand this need.
There is more than a touch of supercilious elitism there, very few people feel no emotion, every one of the crowd has a personality when they are not in a crowd.
My argument says the normal course of events is for all to experience emotion, and conflicts in personality. We all have our own ways to take away the sting; rationalising, rubbing, cleansing or cauterising; whatever, he is not the only one, some ways not that special. That is why his poetry appeals to others, like me they see reflections; I also make rejections. I have been ragged claws, I have dared.

“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. But, of course, only those who have personality and emotions know what it means to want to escape from these things.” T.S. Eliot

Gumby
February 16th, 2014, 09:12 PM
Intellectually, I understand what he is saying, but the heart does not believe it.

Squalid Glass
February 16th, 2014, 10:59 PM
I think anybody who has read Prufrock would argue that that poem elicits nothing BUT emotion. Perhaps it's a semantic argument here, though. Trying to escape emotion is certainly a way of turning emotion loose. I think Eliot should have viewed escape as a way of expressing. Though there is a point where a line must be drawn. Eliot, for instance, was pretty good at exhibiting emotion without letting it turn into a Romantic sort of sentimentality. I am certainly down with that idea.

Props for the thoughts, Olly. And double props for the best topic name of all time. Probably my favorite opening stanza in any poem.

Olly Buckle
February 16th, 2014, 11:33 PM
I think anybody who has read Prufrock would argue that that poem elicits nothing BUT emotion.This refers to what the poem is doing for the reader. Eliott does not seem to be interested in the reader, but about the function of the poem to the poet. Exhibiting and expressing the emotion may turn it loose on the reader, but by 'externalising' it is the poet escaping his own internalisation and conflict?

escorial
February 16th, 2014, 11:57 PM
Poetry built around personal experience in an emotional way is what drives me to read other poets..when I get to know a poet and get a feel for their work it all hangs on their ability to express themselves and their relationship with society in general. The quote from T.S.Eliot is very alien to my concept of poetry to be honest.

Gumby
February 17th, 2014, 12:09 AM
Exhibiting and expressing the emotion may turn it loose on the reader, but by 'externalising' it is the poet escaping his own internalisation and conflict?

I think it's possible that externalizing it helps to cleanse the emotions from the poet, but in order to get it out there into a poem, the poet must first dip deeply into his or her own emotional well and if the demons are well and truly dark, they will come back.

I know from experience that it's possible to write a poem that will touch others, without being too emotionally invested in the poem you've written, but when this happens to me, I feel almost as if I've cheated and I never really like the poem, even if others do. I guess that could fit in with what T.S. Eliot said.

Squalid Glass
February 17th, 2014, 01:32 AM
This refers to what the poem is doing for the reader. Eliott does not seem to be interested in the reader, but about the function of the poem to the poet. Exhibiting and expressing the emotion may turn it loose on the reader, but by 'externalising' it is the poet escaping his own internalisation and conflict?

I think he certainly escapes his own conflict through the poem.

If anything, I think poetry is like any other art form - it functions as an expression of catharsis. Eliot was a modernist. All his poetry certainly attempts to come to grips with the issues he and his contemporaries were dealing with at the time. Prufrock, in my opinion, is one of his more personal poems. It seems nothing but a manifestation of his personal hell.

Olly Buckle
February 17th, 2014, 11:48 AM
it all hangs on their ability to express themselves and their relationship with society in generalThat is an excellent description of 'The Lovesong of Alfred J Prufrock'; I don't know if you have read it, it is long and some parts are more immediately obvious than others, but it does not have all the scholastic references that 'The Wasteland' does and is much more personal.

I wonder how much the poem is written for the poet and how much for the audience, Elliot talks as though it is purely for the poet, Gumby's comment shows that even if written for an audience the poet must feel involved in some way. Of course not all poetry is the same, but looking back I would say even the things I have written as humour or instruction, like limericks or the one on alliteration and sibilant s's, gave me some personal satisfaction.

Squalid Glass
February 17th, 2014, 06:22 PM
I wonder how much the poem is written for the poet and how much for the audience

Again, in the case of Prufrock, I argue it's entirely for the poet. It's catharsis through words.

Eliot was one of the more academic poets to ever publish, and along with Pound, he really led his generation in terms of being intellectually literary. But his poetry, even "The Wasteland", seems to me to come from some incredibly authentic place which, overall, expresses his feelings of isolation, confusion, and melancholy during an intense period of change in the world. I mean, "The Wasteland" as a title seems to suggest that very idea.

For more evidence, consider the following poem, "Morning at the Window":

They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.

The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.

The very fact that the poem is written in the first poem suggests a relationship between "I" and "They". Additionally, the focus of the imagery on the qualities of the women is very similar to Prufrock. Here you have "muddy skirts" whereas in Prufrock you have "after the skirts that trail along the floor". He also brings back the image of fog. In Prufrock, it's "yellow fog", and here it's "brown waves of fog". There's also a perversion of the face. There are "twisted faces" and "aimless smiles" which suggest distance between the speaker and the people on the street.

To me, this poem exemplifies that great line in Prufrock: "I have...watched the smoke that rises from the pipes/Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows". I mean, if that's not both a comment on society and a desperate plea for companionship, I don't know what is.

To bring this back to the original point, I think poetry, and this includes Eliot's, can be both for the reader and the poet. But I think in most cases, authenticity of emotion is what makes a poem powerful. Shoot, all you have to do to understand that is read Wordsworth. And to go back to your original quote by Eliot, I think you have to take those words with a grain of salt. Eliot was such an academic that his thoughts on poetry, to me at least, seem to have gotten a bit twisted. He might have lost a little bit of that Romantic disposition. On the other hand, it's hard to take any poet's criticism of their own work and craft seriously. I mean, there are so many times when what I write comes from a place that I can't define. As artists, we have to realize that our art is not entirely logical or definable. Sometimes we create with no understanding of how or why.

Olly, thanks for creating such a great topic. Discussions like this one are almost as much fun as actually reading and writing poetry!

Gumby
February 17th, 2014, 06:30 PM
And to go back to your original quote by Eliot, I think you have to take those words with a grain of salt. Eliot was such an academic that his thoughts on poetry, to me at least, seem to have gotten a bit twisted. He might have lost a little bit of that Romantic disposition. On the other hand, it's hard to take any poet's criticism of their own work and craft seriously. I mean, there are so many times when what I write comes from a place that I can't define. As artists, we have to realize that our art is not entirely logical or definable. Sometimes we create with no understanding of how or why.

I suspect this is correct and I wonder how often we may fool ourselves into thinking that the inspiration of our poetry is purely academic, rather than from that deep place inside that we are afraid to examine too closely.

aj47
March 2nd, 2014, 01:32 AM
My take on this is that every poem is different. That sounds obvious but it moves in a direction that says the reasons for writing it are not identical--possibly not even similar. And the reasons for reading? Ditto.

Some poets write one work that does whatever for them; others require multiple ones. The multiple ones may each have an element but you cannot really comprehend them separately. So pouring emotion all over everything may be part one; with parts two and up being about "now that I've got that out of my system..." Or not.

Reasons for actions are as varied as the actors and while one can categorize most, there are always outliers that don't quite fit any category.

And that's okay because, that's how it is.