Eliot’s Three Voices

According to T.S. Eliot, there are three voices of poetry.

“The first voice is the voice of the poet talking to himself–or to nobody. The second is the voice of the poet addressing an audience, whether large or small. The third is the voice of the poet when he attempts to create a dramatic character speaking in verse.” — TS Eliot, The Three Voices of Poetry, delivered at the 11th Annual Lecture of the National Book League in 1953 and published for the NBL by the Cambridge University Press.


Reading this essay prompted me to write a poem.


ELIOT’S THREE VOICES

The Road Not Taken, Fall 2012

In the dreadful silence I can still hear the restless sound
of a mindful muse, wistfully wandering left to right
and back again, cleansing, making amends, lost, then found
precariously placed around words of audible sight.

Your collective comprehension speaks
With the vibrations of one throat. It employs
a persona that sweats and reeks
of a feverish art, crafting a subtle noise.

We are hungry for the good and bad;
the strong and weak, the common, sublime.
Do not draw near to see who’s been had:
the actions of others create the motives of time.

These harmonious voices are made to coexist —
the restless and laboring winds that blow away the mist.

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