Responding in part to Robert A.'s interesting post on public/private manners & mannerisms:

Here's a passage from an essay that TS Eliot published in The Egoist in 1919 (& never republished):

"This relation is a feeling of profound kinship, or rather a peculiar personal intimacy, with another, probably a dead author. It may overcome us suddenly, on first or after long acquaintance; it is certainly a crisis; and when a young writer is seized with a passion of this sort he may be changed, metamorphosed almost, within a few weeks even, from a bundle of second-hand sentiments into a person...
...We may not be great lovers, but if we had a genuine affair with a real poet of any degree we have acquired a monitor to avert us when we are not in love... We do not imitate, we are changed; and our work is the work of the changed man; we have not borrowed, we have been quickened, and we become bearers of a tradition."

- this is quoted in Langdon Hammer's Hart Crane & Allen Tate, as part of his history of Crane/Tate/Eliot's ambiguous-subliminal erotic psychologies. Crane responded (as a gay man) to this early Eliot; Tate, on the other hand, to the reserved, impersonal, authoritative Eliot of "Tradition and the Individual Talent".

I post this to point to the contrast between this, on the one hand, and the informal, relaxed familiarity of the NY School approach (which RA describes). Poet-friendships, there, are not surrounded by an aura of ambiguity, romance & taboo.

This "demotic" attitude seems connected with the general relaxation (or vulgarization) of sexual mores : the taboos have broken down.

The idea that private name-dropping in poems, etc., impinges on the boundaries of traditional public speech is true in more ways than one.

I think it's possible to send private, personal messages & public messages - separately - in one and the same poem. The overuse of obviously private messages seems kind of slack, in a way. But it may also be a realistic acknowledgement of the limits of a poet's reach & impact. & it reflects, back to us, the quality of our own private lives.

Eliot's passage above, by the way, seems like a script for my own comically-representative experience (I mean Mandelstam's impact, & the "Shakespeare episode"). Shakespeare's ambiguously erotic & narcissistic sonnets literally knocked the wind out of me - & threw me back into the Biblical fold.

Oddly, Eliot here seems sane & healthy to me. He's talking about love, not "eros" or sex (hence his phrase, "we may not be great lovers" - funny). Love may involve passionate erotic energies, but it's not only that. Contemporary mores often simply reduce love to eros.

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