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The question of the relation between thought and feeling in Eliot’s poetics is too complex to be thoroughly analysed in this article.
[…] what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.
The existing monuments form an ideal order among themselves, which is modified by the introduction of the new (the really new) work of art among them.
Composition is not only a reunion between the poet, his feelings his thoughts and the object he wants to create; it also includes the deep awareness of the literary works of the past and the felt necessity to constantly interact with them.
But such an interaction does not require the use of the openly discursive mode; it takes place in poetic writing itself.
“This is because for Eliot,” Manju Jain writes, “there is no stage of consciousness at which we do not find feeling and thought together […] whereas Bradley stresses that there is no thought without feeling, Eliot emphasizes that there is no feeling without thought.” (Jain, 1992 207) Therefore, the feeling that goes into writing poetry or the feeling in which writing itself has originated is always already marked by thought and analysis.
And the partition of their respective modes of inscription would be as irrelevant as the attempt to circumscribe their respective fields of action in the consciousness of the poet at the time of composition.
But why should the terms “theory” and “song” be antithetical?
If Eliot’s essays have largely contributed to his reputation as a critic, is it fair to separate “the man who [sings]” and “the mind which [thinks]”1, or to deny the existence of theory or aesthetic considerations as an undertone, or under-tune, of his poetry?
These minds often find in Hamlet a vicarious existence for their own artistic realization.
Such a mind had Goethe, who made of Hamlet a Werther; and such had Coleridge, who made of Hamlet a Coleridge.