Eliot’s objection to Wordsworth’s theory of emotion recollected in tranquility

T.S Eliot  (1888-1965) expresses his anti-romantic view of the creative process in “Tradition and the Individual Talent.” He disapproves of the romantic view of poetry as a sentimental expression of subjective feelings. Accordingly, he rejects his emotive statement of Wordsworth-“emotion recollected in tranquility.” Wordsworth’s formula involves three components for poetic composition- emotion, recollection, and tranquility.

More Notes: Tradition and Individual Talent

Eliot opined that “to find new human emotions in poetry is an error of eccentricity”.  This search for novelty in the wrong place, this error discovers the pervert. According to the author, the task of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use common ones and express them in poetry, expressing feelings that are not real emotions.  Even emotions she has never felt will serve her turn as well as those she knows.

As a result, it appears that “emotions recalled in peace” is an absurd formula.  It is “neither emotion nor recollection” or tranquility in the proper sense. It is rather a concentration, and a new thing resulting from the concentration, of a very great number of experiences which, to the practical and active person, would not seem to be experienced at all. This concentration does not happen consciously or through deliberation. These experiences are not recollected, and they finally unite in an atmosphere that is “tranquil” only in that it is a passive attendance upon the event. But there is much to be conscious and deliberate about in writing poetry.  Of course, a bad poet is conscious where he should be unconscious, and vice versa. Thus Eliot refutes Wordsworth’s formula for the creative process.

Rashedul Islam
Rashedul Islam

Hi, This is Rashedul. Researcher and lecturer of English literature and Linguistics.

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