Nature, for both the Romantics, Wordsworth, and Coleridge holds a central ground as a source of inspiration for poetry. Wordsworth in terms of choosing low and rustic life and Coleridge by adding supernatural elements that give a semblance of truth. Eliot on the other hand greatly diverges from this point of view by holding the works of the past which he calls ‘tradition’ as a source, that shapes the work of the present and vice versa.
The power of imagination plays a great role in the romantics. Imagination is broken into two sectors by Coleridge: one being primary imagination which is similar to the basic human perception, the other being secondary imagination, and here where the creativity of the individual comes into play. Wordsworth too reflects similar types of agencies when he states that a poet has the ability of “conjuring in himself passions” that are far from being the same as those produced by the same events, yet do more nearly resemble the passions produced by the real event. T.S Eliot, however, relies more on the expression of ordinary emotions, the job of a poet according to him, is not to create new emotions, but to use ordinary ones and working them up to poetry, he views these emotions as a concentration of experiences.
Wordsworth establishes that there is no difference between the language of prose and poetry as they both are the same thing while Coleridge differentiates these two concepts on the basis that poetry contains meter and rhyme while prose does not contain these. Coleridge defies Wordsworth’s idea of ‘real language’ by asserting that there is no ‘real’ language as language differs based on education, culture, belief, etc. Coleridge also differs in certain sentiments Wordsworth held about common language. Coleridge asserted that common language was not the best language for poetry and that the best parts of language resulted from an educated reflection rather than a familiarity with simple and natural things. For T.S Eliot poetry is a medium in which impressions and experiences combine in a peculiar and impersonal way.
Wordsworth asserts poetry to be a “spontaneous overflow of powerful feelings”, Eliot fails to agree with him, he instead believes poetry to be an escape from emotions and personality. Wordsworth also differs from Eliot’s approach of “disconnectedness” when he explains how the influxes of our feelings are modified by our thoughts that are influenced by our experience, this stance stands in stark opposition to what Eliot states about depersonalizing the work.
Taking into account the rationality of Enlightenment that contrasted with the idealism and transcendentalism of Romanticism, the approach of the two Romantic poets and Eliot differ greatly. Eliot is more inclined towards a rational approach towards poetry emphasizing the need for coherence of timeless (in the historical context) and the temporal making the writer more aware of his place in time, the romantics, however, assert a transcendence from the spatial and temporal consciousness.