Theory – Poetry – And Helplessness Of A Poet

The world has moved far ahead of the Wordsworthian age. Now, you are not in a position to expect sheer romantic verses romancing with nature from a poet. In fact, even a versatile figure like T. S. Eliot seems out of the context in the present scenario. Why did the circumstances change? To be able to be in a position from where you can ponder about the current developments in English poetry, you have to think certain facts.

In the past, there used to be a parallel line that connected the creation and theory. By theory, I mean the literary theory of a particular age. Several instances are the neo-classical theory, romantic theory, and post-modern theory. For the clarity of thoughts, the romantic theory dominated later eighteenth and early nineteenth century. Poets were producing the works that moved along with it. Keats, Byron, Shelley, and others wrote great romantic poems. However, what is the theory that governs today’s poetical canvas? Thinking from another side of the thread, what theory do the poets keep in mind when they compose? Apparently, there is no theory today! I remember to have read in a book of literary theory that the present age, in fact, is a no-theory age. Poets enjoy the liberty to write what suits them.

Getting into the debate to a further level, the social and cultural conditions, that are somehow disordered, add additional pain to the writing of poets. The question of any ‘how,’ if it arises at any level, may seek an answer in the poem by Harold Pinter – “Modern Love”. The poem describes the absence of feeling from the act of love. Moreover, it also shows the disgust of poet for the soulless society.

There is a classic phrase that like gets like. The life of modern people has actually become lifeless. That, a poet is someone from the society is an inevitable truth! Now, what a poet will write will be the same that he feels and observes.

“The hollow eyes,

scrutinizes the hollow apartments

hiding the hollow men


What else can one expect from a poet? The seeds of this hollowness on the pages of poetry have the roots in ancient times. Matthew Arnold and his ‘melancholy roar’ depicts the story well. T. S. Eliot further protracted the story by adding his wrath in that roar. Today, the poets are in a quandary over what to write and what to avoid. They have much to write; they have much to avoid!

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