Realism and Poetic Drama
'THE ideal medium for poetry, to my mind, and the most direct means of social usefulness for poetry, is the theatre. . . . For the simplest auditors there is the plot, for the more literary the words and phrasing, for the more musically sensitive the rhythm, and for auditors of greater sensitiveness and understanding a meaning which reveals itself gradually . . . the sensitiveness of every auditor is acted upon by all these elements at once, though in different degrees of consciousness' ( The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, p. 135). The quotation is from the Harvard University lectures delivered by Eliot during the winter of 1932-33, six years after 'Sweeney Agonistes' two years before the first production of Murder in the Cathedral. His career as a dramatist, up to The Cocktail Party, covers the period between 'Journey of the Magi' and the completion of the Four Quartets. One might expect, then, that the meaning to which Eliot refers will in his own plays be involved, at least in part, with the ideas of the early religious poetry and the Quartets. From one viewpoint the plays are an attempt to communicate to the larger commanded by drama the themes of these poems. The spectacle of dramatic conflict, and the various levels of enjoyment summarised by Eliot in the passage just quoted, might more readily than the poetry persuade an audience to appreciation of the core of meaning.
Certainly Eliot has never advocated an esotericism developed as an end in itself. Esotericism was looked on not as a desirable