The Poet in the Poem: The Personae of Eliot, Yeats, and Pound

By George T. Wright | Go to book overview
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5
Conclusion

IN THE FOREGOING survey of Eliot, Yeats, and Pound I have tried to show that these poets characteristically detach themselves from their personae and invite the reader to share with the poet a fuller consciousness of the poem. They expect the reader rather to undergo the poem as an experience than to accompany the persona through his experiences. The personae serve as instances, not as exemplars; yet the ultimate hero of such modern poems is, in a way, still the poet himself, who is felt, through all the poetic elements including the persona, as the definitive force within the poem. However intent he is on his presentation of reality, what he presents is ultimately not reality but a "vision" of it, a "statement" of it, a "replacement" of it, which is pervaded with the "colour," the "tone," the "virtu," of the poet. The poetry of these men is as "personal" as any poetry.

Yet the way in which it is personal is different from most nineteenth-century verse, and its difference rests in its abandonment of the persona as the center of the poem (and, implicitly, of the world). But as soon as the persona ceases to be central in a poem which he speaks and which purports to present his own experiences (as even the unobtrusive "I" of a novel or narrative poem shares his point of view, and hence his own experience, with the reader), the lyric situation

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