Tradition And The Individual Talent

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Miriam-Webster dictionary defines tradition as, “a way of thinking, behaving, or doing something that has been used by the people in a particular group, family, society, etc., for a long time.” However the playwright, poet, and critic T.S. Eliot believes tradition in a poetry sense varies through cultures, through time, and it is ever changing. In Eliot’s critical analysis “Tradition and the Individual Talent” tradition is something considered passed down but in a poetry sense, it is something that is not inherited, it is something that requires great ambition and focus to learn from past poets. A great poet must learn from predecessors of the difficult art before he or she takes to writing great poetry. According to Eliot writers must learn from the past, conform to present-day traditions, and realize their poetry will be compared to past and present works. Eliot’s belief of tradition is complex and different from the standard definition of tradition. The works from the past great poets create the definition of tradition, according to Eliot, but as new works are created, the tradition will change and adjust as they add themselves to the long list of great poetry. He states this as, “the past should be altered by the present as much as the present is directed by the past.” By this he means poets should learn from past poets and be directed by them but that does not mean they have a set guideline to follow as it is always changing. Before anybody begins, however, the new
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