Friday, June 04, 2021

Rowan Ricardo Phillips, T. S. Eliot, William Blake, and police violence

Rowan Ricardo Phillips's two-line poem "Tradition and the Individual Talent" takes its title from the title of an essay by T. S. Eliot and its first line from William Blake's poem "London": "I wandered through each chartered street / Till I was shot by the police." I wondered if the second line was also a quotation (perhaps of a song), but an internet search for the phrase led only to references to Phillips. While Blake's London is full of people with "marks of weakness, marks of woe" and Eliot writes that "poetry is not a turning loose of emotion", Phillips turns emotion loose as his speaker is "marked" by police violence. (Andrew Shields, #111words, 4 June 2021)

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