T. S. Eliot '10, Charles Eliot Norton Professor of Poetry, will deliver the fifth lecture in the series on "The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism" tonight at 8 o'clock in the New Lecture Hall. The subject will be "The practice of Shelley and Keats."
"An age of revolution is not a good one for poetry," stated Eliot to a CRIMSON reporter last night. "Perhaps that is why there are few poems of this period which satisfy me completely, and those rather short ones, and chiefly of Wordsworth.
"Good poetry, according to my view, should be written by good Catholics and good atheists: not by a man with a religion of his own. Shelley's didactiveness compares unfavorably with Dante's for that reason. Dante assumes that we accept the scheme of the Catholic Church; Shelley tries to convince us of the scheme itself. The poet cannot afford to teach; he is quite at liberty to expound ideas, so long as they aren't his own ideas, for then there is a chance that he will make poetry of it."
Eliot attributes the greatness of both Shelley and Keats to the promise they showed, rather than their actual accomplishments. "In the case of Shelley one is giving him the benefit of the doubt; the letters of Keats, on the other hand, prove, I am sure, that he was headed in the right direction."
Eliot went on to summarize the remarks he will make tonight in contrasting Shelley's prose with the prose letters of Keats.