One-minute review: Several ideas merge in this essay. Although the poets of the past are dead, the poetry of the past lives. The poet's craftsmanship puts emotion in the poem; it is not the emotion of the poet himself. The individual poet in the present must be aware of what lives in past work so that he can produce poetry that lives now and in the future as part of that past. Eliot is laying the groundwork for the "New Critics," who emphasized studying the work of art, not the poet, and certainly not, as Rosenblatt contends, to encourage readers to interpret the work of art with their personal experience.
Quote: “Poetry is not a turning loose of emotion, but an escape from emotion; it is not the expression of personality, but an escape from personality.” p. 96.
Comment: Spoken like a poet. Cryptic. RayS.
Best American Essays of the Century. Editors: Oates and Atwan.