‘Mystique of Belatedness’: Mything the Point

The Thomas Hardy Tree toppled over in a London cemetery. Acrylic on cardboard.

Thank you for your visits to this blog and for indulging its mischief in 2022. More joy and less loss be ahead for each and all!


“I’m convinced. Eliot finished poetry off.”

(Matthew Walther)

The problem is not that Eliot put poetry on the wrong track. It’s that he went as far down that track as anyone could, exhausting its possibilities and leaving little or no work for those who came after him. It is precisely this mystique of belatedness that is the source of Eliot’s considerable power. What he seems to be suggesting is that he is the final poet, the last in a long unbroken line of seers to whom the very last visions are being bequeathed, and that he has come to share them with his dying breaths.

(Matthew Walther, “Poetry Died 100 Years Ago This Month,” New York Times, 12-29-22)

I would say the visions are being “vouchsafed” rather than “bequeathed.” It’s more poetic! Of all the examples of poetry in its pomp to adduce, Walther picks Robert Southey. John Donne would sound more contemporary.

What’s all this death talk about poetry anyway? (Next they’ll claim figurative painting is dead. Or God is dead. Wait, they already did!)

Isn’t it poetry’s remit to induce ejaculatory befuddlement in its perennially scant coterie of adepts? There’s plenty of grist for that mill. This lurching old world of ours affords ample scope for misery as keen as T.S. Eliot’s to flourish for another thousand years.

(c) 2022 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

About JMN

I live in Texas and devote much of my time to easel painting on an amateur basis. I stream a lot of music, mostly jazz, throughout the day. I like to read and memorize poetry.
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2 Responses to ‘Mystique of Belatedness’: Mything the Point

  1. Nice painting to finish off the year

    Liked by 1 person

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