Alec Nevala-Lee

Thoughts on art, creativity, and the writing life.

Archive for August 18th, 2018

The mug’s game

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Every poet would like, I fancy, to be able to think that he had some direct social utility. By this…I do not mean that he should meddle with the tasks of the theologian, the preacher, the economist, the sociologist, or anybody else; that he should do anything but write poetry, write poetry not defined in terms of something else. He would like to be something of a popular entertainer, and be able to think his own thoughts behind a tragic or a comic mask. He would like to convey the pleasures of poetry, not only to a larger audience, but to larger groups of people collectively; and the theatre is the best place in which to do it. There might, one fancies, be some fulfillment in exciting this communal pleasure, to give an immediate compensation for the pains of turning blood into ink. As things are, and as fundamentally they must always be, poetry is not a career, but a mug’s game. No honest poet can ever feel quite sure of the permanent value of what he has written: he may have wasted his time and messed up his life for nothing.

T.S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism

Written by nevalalee

August 18, 2018 at 7:30 am

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