What does poetry mean to you?
For me, poetry—writing and reading—is a unique personal experience, by which I mean that everyone can find something different in it. It might be writing a poem to express your political standpoint or reading a poem on loss that triggers a reaction in you. There is a silent dialogue between the words, the writer, and the reader that I find beautiful.
Why do you like this poem?
Eliot’s was a complicated personality, but his poetic genius can’t be denied. “Portrait of a Lady” is an excellent example of Eliot’s (in)famous reputation for having a ‘smug’ voice, his weaving of references like a tapestry, and the moments of fragility that catch the reader unawares:
“I feel like one who smiles, and turning shall remark
Suddenly, his expression in a glass.
My self-possession gutters; we are really in the dark.”