Wordsworth vs Eliot

Recently I came across the interesting article “How Eliot Refutes Wordsworth’s Concept of ‘emotion recollected in Tranquility’” https://www.literary-articles.com/search/?q=wordsworth+eliot

Ever since, William Wordsworth’s description of poetic creation has been weighing on my mind. I don’t recall ever having found the initial act of composition tranquil. Nor have I ever found it to be emotion that is “recollected”.

In contrast, T.S. Eliot conceives of poetic composition as “an escape from emotion” because it requires artistry’s distancing, concentration, selectivity, and structure. Occasionally, I have created in that way, delving into a body of facts to discover an inherent poetry my own writing might reveal, as in my book Looking Through Stone, poems on geology, metals, minerals, and mining. While taking opposite stances on emotion, what Wordsworth’s and Eliot’s, and in the above example, my approaches share is first making a conscious choice to sit down and write something.

But there is a third way of creation, as poets have reported (see Poetry Notes “Whence a Poem, 1 and 2”), less an intellectual decision to compose a particular work than a summoning. In my case, out of nowhere, a word, an image, a rhythm can start bouncing around inside my head. I must snatch a pen and paper and scribble down whatever stray phrases tug at me, as if a fishhook has caught in my mouth and is reeling me in.

The emotion felt here comes not from some Wordsworthian previous experience. Instead, in its own right, it builds in the very act of catching the fish: a tension, an excitement, a delight to see what intuition is pulling up. Once the fish is caught and the line falls limp, of course the catch must still be cleaned, scaled, filleted, and cut into serving portions, as Eliot would approve.