Yeats, Eliot and the Modern Spirit

From Richard Elllman’s fantastic work on Yeats (The identity fo Yeats)

In modern poetry, Yeats and T.S. Eliot stand at opposite poles. for, while both see life as incomplete, Eliot puts his faith in spiritual perfection, the ultimate conversion of sense to spirit. Yeats, on the other hand, stands with Michelangelo, for “profane perfection of mankind” in which sense and spirit are fully and harmoniously exploited and “body is not bruised to pleasure soul”.  So strongly does he hold this view that he projects sensuality into heaven to keep heaven from being ethereal and abstract. He presents this faith with such power and richness that Eliot’s religion, in spite of its honesty and loftiness, is pale and infertile in comparison.

I see what he means, even though I am a fan of E.iot’s religious poetry.


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