The Uses of Diction
POETIC DICTION presents a new problem to each poetic generation; every age has its own voice, and even the old ideas must be expressed in new words--the mots of one generation are the clichés of the next. This change in poetic language from one generation to another will be greater or less, depending on the continuity of values between them; the beliefs that can be salvaged will carry their own language with. them. Where the break is violent, as it was between the High Victorians and their successors, the verbal changes will be correspondingly great. The change in language is never in itself a cause---Wordsworth did not adopt "language really used by men" because he fancied it but because he needed it; in the same way, Hardy's diction at its oddest is the product not of whim nor of incompetence but of necessity.
Yeats wrote of William Morris that "instead of the language of Chaucer and Shakespeare, its warp fresh from field and market--if the woof were learned--his age offered him a speech, exhausted from abstraction, that only returned to its full vitality when written learnedly and slowly."41 Whether or not the exhaustion of English speech was actual, the best poets at the end of the last century felt it as such,