The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones

misty morning

Emotions which he has never experienced will serve his turn

It is not in his personal emotions, the emotions provoked by particular events in his life, that the poet is in any way remarkable or interesting. His particular emotions may be simple, or crude, or flat. The emotion in his poetry will be a very complex thing, but not with the complexity of the emotions of people who have very complex or unusual emotions in life. One error, in fact, of eccentricity in poetry is to seek for new human emotions to express; and in this search for novelty in the wrong place it discovers the perverse. The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all. And emotions which he has never experienced will serve his turn as well as those familiar to him.

by T. S. Eliot (September 26, 1888 – January 4, 1965)
from the essay Tradition and the Individual Talent (1919)
found in Selected Prose of T.S. Eliot
image – zenera

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2 Responses to “The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones”

  1. Praveen Says:

    The business of the poet is not to find new emotions, but to use the ordinary ones and, in working them up into poetry, to express feelings which are not in actual emotions at all. And emotions which he has never experienced will serve his turn as well as those familiar to him.

    ———-

    Lovely… Very very true… Beautiful read 🙂

  2. Frankie Blaydon Says:

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