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Analysis of Essay by T.S. Eliot

Analysis of Essay by T.S. Eliot

T.S. Eliot (2) stated that "art, as Goethe said, is in limitation: and a great poet is one who makes the most of the language that is given him." What Eliot (2-3) further argues is that "the truly great poet makes his language a great language." Throughout his essay, Eliot (1) argues first, that his own language, English, is "the richest for the purposes of writing poetry," but affirms that while he believes that English 'is the most remarkable medium for the poet to play with," other languages have also produced great poets who follow Goethe's suggestion by making the most of the language they are given. In other words, as this analysis will demonstrate, language may limit what a poet can and cannot do, but it is the ability of the poet to capitalize upon language itself that accounts for poetic greatness.

Others also support the ideas expressed above. Obakanse Lakanse (1), a teacher of English literature in Lagos, Nigeria, has argued that poets in his country who write in various Nigerian languages are working or perpetuate the greatness of those languages. This analyst believes that it is important to use literary talent and creative ability to affirm the value of language for its cultural meaning and its ability to capture the aesthetics of a people. Further, Lakanse (2) believes that great poets write in the language of their own time and that in this way they shape language and make a permanent mark on it that furthers its greatness.

Willard Van Orman Quine (65) suggests much the same thing and notes that even when poems in one language are translated into another, no matter how great or accurate the translation, something indispensable has been lost. Specifically, this literary critic believes that great literature shapes and informs language and renders language something more than itself. Even when excellent translations of poetry from one language to ano...

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