T.S, Eliot views on poetic drama


Poetic drama or dramatic poetry is also known as verse drama or dramatic verse. It is mainly performed physically and dialogues either can be spoken or sing.

The poetic drama is a great achievement of the modern age. It is the combination of the tradition and the experiment of the ancient and new era. Poetic drama is symbolic and difficult. It is mainly written in a form of blank verse or free verse, which means verse is vehicle, imagery is mechanism and its substance is myth and its binding force is musical pattern.

What is poetic drama?

Poetic drama refers to the drama in which both (poetry and drama) combines to add or give a deep impact of dramatist’s feeling and emotions on readers.

After combining poetry and drama altogether they create more seriousness in tragedy and also actors feel comfortable in learning poetic dialogues.

Views of Eliot on poetic drama

The poetic drama originally originated from Sanskrit drama and Greek tragedies. In the 6th and 5th century BCE, drama was first invented in Athens as part of a celebration of fruitfulness, vegetation, wine and revelry. The earliest drama poetry was performed at the theatre of Dionysus in Athens.

However, poetic drama was not very popular by the time of 18th and 19th century or it was nearly dead because of unfavorable conditions. Many poets like Tennyson, Browning etc. have made an effort to create poetic drama but there was more poetry than drama. Actually, there was no such a form like poetic drama, but in the beginning of 20th century poetic drama revived or rebirth by none other than T.S. Eliot, who rehabilitated poetic drama and placed it on a sound footing. Not only Eliot but the great Irish poet and dramatists W.B. Yeats and J.M Synge contributed to great extent for the survival of this literary term.

And finally, it was T.S. Eliot who introduced the theory of poetic drama and established the tradition in 20th century altogether.

Before involving in this field, he had been working critically as an essayist. His views on poetic drama are valuable and significant and are mainly can be found on his essays like; ‘Ash Wednesday’ (1930), ‘Murder in Cathedral’ (1935) ‘Burnt Norton’ (1936), and ‘Four Quarters’ (1943). His dramatic nature and portrayal of characters in his poetry is an important feature, we often find Eliot choosing a character like Prufrock, Sweeney, Gerontion and portraying the characters with such idiom and diction that he unravels what lies behind the action and the beneath the appearance.

Eliot enters into the minds and feelings, thus creating various layers of meaning in his poems. For this he alludes to many historical and cultural events and characters. Intertextual allusions are often used to achieve a historical sense and for entering into the realm of feelings. Just like the symbolist poets of the 19th century Europe, Eliot uses many elements of language and nature as symbols and creates special effects by juxtaposing the grotesque and the normal.

Moreover, Eliot not only gave rebirth to poetic drama but he prepared the concrete grand for it by saying that the craving for poetic drama is permanent in human nature and it is based on thought of human perception also, he added that poetry is complete medium of drama.

 According to Eliot’s literary view, all dramatic expressions are artificial and we are to deceive ourselves when we aim at realism. For human beings have not changed so much since the time of Aeschylus. He says, “on the stage, prose is artificial like verse and verse can be natural like prose”.

According to T.S. Eliot the value of poetic drama is based on the ground, which is the fine resource that can express the permanent struggles and conflicts of human beings transcending the ephemeral and superficial.

“The cocktail Party” is the most successful poetic drama by Eliot and “Murder in the Cathedral” is the first full length poetic drama and most popular work written and published in 1935 by Eliot.

Thomas Sterns Eliot or T.S. Eliot was born on 26 September, 1888 in St. Louis Missouri, United States. He was the prominent figure of modern age in English literature. He was an Anglo-Saxon (American- English poet, playwright, literary critic and editor. He is best known as the leader of modernist movement in poetry. His has mere influence in the field of drama in the first half of 20th century. Eliot was considered a bridge figure between England and America and the most important influencer figures of modern era.

Eliot, was so influenced by eastern mysticism therefore, he believed that eastern mysticism and western religion along with synthesis can human get redemption. He thought that punishment, trauma, war etc. are happening because we (human) deserves that. His views makes him different form the rest, according to Eliot, we deserve syncretic eastern mysticism or western Christianity to lead the final answer.

Therefore, Eliot is also called the father of poetic drama.

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