Steal art like a pro


“Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal; bad poets deface what they take, and good poets make it into something better, or at least something different. The good poet welds his theft into a whole of feeling which is unique, utterly different from that from which it was torn.”

—T. S. Eliot

I just loved this quote. It just spoke out my innermost feelings about creation of art and being original. Originality is a farce. When I say that I mean it’s too much of a pressure on an artist especially a writer and prevents her from being a genius.

The words which you use to express yourself can be original as far as you’re concerned but what if by chance someone else has already used it. I can describe the sun as a Golden apple. But what if it has already been denoted by the same name by some other similar mindset on this earth. Does that make me less original and a plagiarist ?

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood and sorry I couldn’t travel both.. –Robert Frost

Frost says in his poem that even though the other road was embarked by many,  he took the one which is less traveled by which made the huge difference in his life.

I felt the same but the only difference being that there are too many roads I find that are worth traversing in today’s world but we gotta take the one that aligns with our core values. Not everyone wanta to start their own business venture. Some just want to be in their own world and not really do anything as they take immense pleasure in contemplating various approaches to life. They like studying and observing other people and learn from their mistakes and successes.

So if I had to rewrite the first two lines of The Road Not Taken, I would say I took none of the roads that lay on my path and I chose to stand still for a while before carving my own path that lead me nowhere substantially but made me happy.


12 thoughts on “Steal art like a pro

  1. David K

    Great post. As you note, there is not much that is truly original anymore, at least in terms of narrative and symbolism. But you can still be original in terms of style. Eliot knew this and drew on his influences widely (‘The Waste Land’ in particular reads like a collection of borrowed images, with much derived from Greek culture, Dante, Symbolist poets, and Shakespeare) and yet he turned it into something else we now recognise as his Eliot’s style. The key therefore, I believe, is not to worry about what you borrow and where from, but to write in a style that is authentically yours — this is probably what Eliot meant when he differentiated between merely imitating and stealing.

      1. David K

        You’re welcome. T.S. Eliot is one of my influences and I’ve struggled for years to ‘steal’ from rather than ‘imitate’ him. 🙂 I wrote an analysis on The Waste Land, which you can find on my blog if you’re interested.

      2. David K

        Ha, it’s not been written yet, not even been planned. Part 1 was something I had already done. Thought it would be interesting to write an extended, serialised piece. But I wasn’t sure if anybody would be interested. So thank you for your interest! Guess I should start on planning Pt. 2. 🙂 BTW speaking of Eliot and borrowing, the title comes from a line in The Waste Land and there are other elements of the poem in it too.

  2. Roshni R. Nair

    It is true that when it comes to art, there is imitation or at least taking inspiration from someone else’s work, but the subtle nature of this can sometimes lead to newer creations and that in itself is a beautiful process, as you add an essence of yourself into it.

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