Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Sunday, March 14, 2010

The Illusion of the Legacy

As I noted earlier, I faced the difficulty of accepting, or warding off, the influence of a verbally powerful Modern. The familiar intonations of his poems had a way of locking into the workings of the creative mind and bending and swaying and affecting whatever that mind was attempting to voice. Those familiar tones came from Eliot -- and came accompanied by the disturbing baggage of his flirtation with the political philosophy -- if you wish to call it philosophy -- that came near to destroying Europe in the early 20th.

Edmund Wilson pointed out to what degree Eliot owed his apparent inventiveness and even his metrical sense to French Symbolist precedent. Discovering Wilson's insights, not long ago, did much to relieve my mind -- for it had seemed hard to imagine such a champion of the sere, dried and defeated, as Eliot was, to also be as commandingly inventive as he seemed.

I wonder now if it might not have been that tension itself that gave Eliot's poems much of their power.

The other part of the puzzle -- I want to say, "of course" -- is Poe. Back in the 1980s, for some reason, I readily saw that Eliot's critical approach was not dissimilar to Poe's. For some reason I failed to have the same understanding of the relation between the Poe and Eliot metrical senses ... I think because I was struggling to such a degree myself with a personal metrical sense that was being unnecessarily complicated through, but perhaps fertilized by, so much study of musical notation and musical composition.

Cheers ...

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