Vol. 9 No. 6 1942 - page 450

The Music of Poetry*
T. S. Eliot
with myself for some time before electing, for this
occasion, to talk about the subject the nature of which is vaguel)
indicated by my title. Circumstance and conscience conspire, in
·these times, to direct our attention to matters of a wider scope
and perhaps of more general interest. It seems almost impertinent,
even as a man of letters, to concern oneself with a purely literary
subject: I find myself tempted to the opposite impertinence of
talking about matters beyond my range. Even within my own
field, there seem to be questions of greater urgency and relevance:
the place of literature in culture, the place of culture itself in
the society of the future, and all the educational problems implicit
in the cultivation of letters. There are many problems of literature
and the arts which lead towards political, sociological and religious
speculation; and the question which is in every mind-the ques·
tion of the condition of society after the war, of its limitations,
necessities and possibilities, of its inevitable or of its desirable
change-this insistent question might suggest, as a more suitable
subject for a formal address on a distinguished foundation, some
discussion of the place of literature in a changing world.
I have resisted this temptation, it is for two reasons, the
second of which supports the first. At a time when everyone is
interested in the phenomena of change, and when any reflexions
on these phenomena, whether analytical or constructive, may com·
mand attention if only by stimulating controversy and eliciting
contradictory opinion, there is a particular need to consider, now
and then, problems which only seem unimportant, because they
are no more important now than they always have been and always
will be. The prime interest of a practitioner of verse like myself
must be in the immediate future; not that we regard the future
with either hope or fear, or are moved by either the aspiration
•The third W. P. Ker Memorial Lecture delivered in the
of Glaagow, February 24, 1942.
permiuion of the author.
448,449 451,452,453,454,455,456,457,458,459,460,...544
Powered by FlippingBook