One of the facts that might come to light in this process is our tendency to insist, when we praise a poet, upon those aspects of his work in which he least resembles anyone else.
The line has been quoted from T. S. Eliot’s hypersensitive essay Tradition and the Individual Talent. In this line he has indicated us how we should judge a writer or an artist.
Emphasizing the value of tradition, Eliot points out that no writer has his value and significance in isolation. To judge the work of a poet and an artist we must compare and contrast his work with the poets and artists in the past. Such comparison contrast is essential for the significance of a new writer and his work. Again he says that tradition is not anything fixed and static. So a writer in the present must seek guidance from the past, he must conform to the literary tradition. When a new work of art is created, if it is really new and original, the whole literary tradition is modified.
The work of a poet in the present is to be compared and contrasted with the works of past, and judged by the standards of the past. But it does not mean determining good or bad. The comparison is made for the purpose of analyses, and for forming a better understanding of the new.
Indeed, honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry.