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Home » , » How does Eliot explain the process of poetic creativity in his essay, Tradition and Individual Talent?
Thomas Stearns Eliot is an intellectual giant in the history of modern English literature. He has explained the process of poetic creativity in his essay, "Tradition and Individual Talent". In his theory of poetic process, sensation, feeling, emotion and thought form the subject- matter of poetry. The poet achieves experience by them. Sensibility is a terrible responsiveness. Both personality and tradition are significant in a poetic creation. Of course, personality enlivens sensibility. But Eliot is inclined to preserve individuality. He considers personality as short-lived while individuality as permanent. However, we find some of the main theories of his poetic process in this famous essay. The poet used as a medium, sensibility, the role of emotion and thought are remarkable in this respect.Eliot believes that the poet is a medium of expression. The poet must be objective in his poetic creation. So Eliot rejects the theory of poetry of Wordsworth. He declares that " emotions recollected in tranquility" is an inexact formula. He points out that in the process of poetic composition, there is neither emotion, nor recollection, nor tranquility. In the poetic process, there is only concentration of a number of experiences. Now thing results from this concentration. This process of concentration is neither conscious nor deliberate. It is a passive one. Undoubtedly, there are elements which are conscious and deliberate in the poetic process. There is a difference between a good and a bad poet. A bad poet is conscious where he should be unconscious. Again he is unconscious where he should be conscious. It is this consciousness of the wrong kind which makes a poem personal.. Whereas every mature art must be impersonal.The personality of the poet does not find expression in his poetry. It acts as a catalyst in the process of poetic creativity. The experiences which enter the poetic process may be of two kinds. They are emotions and feelings. Poetry may be composed out of emotions only. It can be written out of feelings only. It may also be composed out of both emotions and feelings.Sensibility enables the poet to respond to the different experiences in a unified manner. It is close to Coleriadge's conception of secondary imagination. It does almost similar function to it. It is synonymous with sensation as Eliot has used. What enables the poet to unify diverse experience is sensibility. Sensibility operates upon thoughts and feelings, emotions and sensations. It is a psychical totality.It seems that in the theory of poetic process, emotion is given place inferior to thought and feelings. In this respect, Eliot says--"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."The emotion of poetry is different from personal emotions of the poet. His personal emotions may be simple or crude. But the emotion of his poetry may be complex and refined. It is a mistaken notion that the poet must express new emotions resulting in much eccentricity in poetry. It is not the business of the poet to find new emotions. He may express only ordinary emotions. But he must impart to them a new significance and a new meaning. It is not necessary that they should be his personal emotions. Even emotions which he has never personally experienced can serve the purpose of poetry. Emotion can best be expressed through an objective correlative.There is a significant role of thought in the process of poetic creativity. Eliot says that the poet who thinks merely can express the emotion equivalent of thought. This view of thought in poetry is perfectly consisted with Eliot's theory of objective correlative Emotion is not to be expressent directly in a poem. It is only expressed through a set of objects, a situation and a chain of events. Similarly, the poet is not concerned with the direct statement of thought. But it is concerned only with an emotional equivalent of thought.However, Eliot has analysed the process of poetic creativity in his essay, "Tradition and Individual Talent" to a great extent. Feelings, sensations, emotions and thoughts are to be regarded as the materials for poetry in his conception of poetic process. Eliot has expressed it in a logical manner. But we may not convince with him from top to bottom. He advocates objectivity in good poem. But we may have many poems without objectivity. They are excellent.


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