Rhetorical Analysis Of. Eliot 's ' The Metaphysical Poets ' Essay

Rhetorical Analysis Of. Eliot 's ' The Metaphysical Poets ' Essay

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T.S. Eliot, in his The Metaphysical Poets, claims that it is a pity the poets since the seventeenth century have experienced a “dissociation of sensibility”, from which they have never recovered (Eliot 64). For Eliot, poetry is a union of opposites, the reconciliation of which needs a unified sensibility. By this sensibility, a poet can amalgamate desperate experiences, fuse into a single whole the varied and disparate, and synthesize the sensuous and the intellectual. This synthesis thus enables poetry to be widely read because humans are mentally chaotic. However, poets since the seventeenth century can either feel or think, and this poetic degradation to more elevated language but cruder emotions shackles the development of the modern poetry.
Eliot applauds John Donne, stating that “a thought to Donne was an experience; it modified his sensibility” (Eliot 64). This appreciation of the precursor from a belated poet, however, is described as an “over-idealized imagination” by Harold Bloom (9). Bloom believes that the relationship between precursors and ephebes is in fact, in the Freudian term, a “family romance”, in which the strong son/ephebe should try to overcome the influence imposed by the father/precursor in a fight to the death (Bloom 27). Readers can indeed notice some intended deviations from Donne in Eliot’s poems, but it is hard to tell whether or not these deviations result from the anxiety due to Donne’s influence. Eliot’s apostasy from Donne can only demonstrate his dissatisfaction or disagreement with part of Donne’s ideology, but Donne’s influence at the same time is welcomed by Eliot, serving as a source of Eliot’s own literary sensibility and as representation of Eliot’s own poetic intelligence.
Bloom’s argument...

... middle of paper ...

...ence: if Eliot disagrees with Donne on the ideology, there should be no repression from Donne and thus no anxiety. Donne’s success makes Eliot lose nothing because they have already been in different realms of believing. The anxiety is from influence, but not non-influence.
Donne’s influence on Eliot is constructive rather than destructive; it has nothing to do with repression but instead a stage for Eliot’s creation. Eliot, through his imitation of Donne, gets keen sensibility and a sense of maturity, and his deviation is the result of disagreement or dissatisfaction rather than anxiety of influence. Bloom says ephebes regain their solipsism through revisionary ratios, but Eliot never loses his independence of writing. Eliot is of great poetic intelligence, and fortunately he also has a wonderful teacher. To him, the influence is not anxiety, but invaluable treasury.

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