Stop a minute to emphasize our own position: It is not that of Mr. Eliot. We are making a modern bolus: That is our somewhat undistinguished burden; profusion, as, we must add in all fairness, against his distinction. His is a few poems beautifully phrased—in his longest effort thirty-five quotations in seven languages. We, let us say, are the Sermons of Launcelot Andrewes from which (in time) some selector will pick one phrase. Or say, the Upanishad that will contribute a single word! There are summative geniuses like that—they shine. We must value them—the extractors of genius—for what they do: extract. But they are there; we are here. It is not possible for us to imitate them. We are in a different phase—a new language—we are making the mass in which some other later Eliot will dig. We must see our opportunity and increase the hoard others will find to use. We must find our pride in that. We must have the pride, the humility and the thrill in the making. (Tell the story of Bramante and the building of the dome of the Duomo in Florence.)
The clearness we must have is first the clarity of knowing what we are doing—what we may do: Make anew—a reexamination of the means—on a fresh—basis. Not at this time an analysis so much as an accumulation. You couldn’t expect us to be as prominent (as read in particular achievements—outstanding single poems). We’re not doing the same thing. We’re not putting the rose, the single rose, in the little glass vase in the window—we’re digging a hole for the tree—and as we dig have disappeared in it.
(Note: Pound’s story of my being interested in the loam whereas he wanted the finished product.)
(Note: Read Bridges—two short pieces in the anthology: 1. The Child 2. Snow.)
We begin to pick up what so far is little more than a feeling (a feeling entirely foreign to a Mr. E. or a Mr. P. —though less to them than to some others) that something is taking place in the accepted prosody or ought to be taking place. (Of course we have had Whitman—but he is a difficult subject—prosodically and I do not want to get off into that now.) It is similar to what must have been the early feeling of Einstein toward the laws of Isaac Newton in physics. Thus from being fixed, our prosodic values should rightly be seen as only relatively true. Einstein had the speed of light as a constant—his only constant—What have we? Perhaps our concept of musical time. I think so. But don’t let us close down on that either at least for the moment.
In any case we as loose, disassociated (linguistically), yawping speakers of a new language, are privileged (I guess) to sense and so to seek to discover that possible thing which is disturbing the metrical table of values—as unknown elements would disturb Mendelyeev’s table of the periodicity of atomic weights and so lead to discoveries.