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We endeavour to find something that can be isolated in order to be enjoyed.

Why in the passive voice? I think it means... We endeavour to find something that can be isolated in order to enjoy the poem.

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A little context helps.

In these aspects or parts of his work we pretend to find what is individual, what is the peculiar essence of the man. We dwell with satisfaction upon the poet’s difference from his predecessors, especially his immediate predecessors; we endeavour to find something that can be isolated in order to be enjoyed. Whereas if we approach a poet without this prejudice we shall often find that not only the best, but the most individual parts of his work may be those in which the dead poets, his ancestors, assert their immortality most vigorously.

Eliot is not speaking of enjoying the entire poem but of enjoying a piece of the poem: “something which can be isolated”, something which is clearly different from what the poet’s predecessors wrote. If you rewrite you must preserve the identity between what is isolated and what is enjoyed which Eliot’s syntax depicts:

We endeavour to find something distinctive which we can isolate from the poem and enjoy on these terms.

Eliot was a very great poet, perhaps the greatest of the first half-century. But his critical prose is awkward and ‘unfinished’—he doesn’t so much express his meaning as surround it with approximations, leaving it to you to figure out what is at the center..

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  • But if it is about the poem i think it should be "in order for the poem to be enjoyed." Why not here? – user2492 Mar 12 '14 at 12:53
  • It is about enjoying the part of the poem - not the whole poem. He could have said "We endeavour to find something that we can isolate and enjoy." What you are saying means "We endeavour to find something that we can isolate so that we can enjoy the poem." – nxx Mar 12 '14 at 13:36
  • @username901345 Because that is explicitly what Eliot is not talking about. He is talking about what he regards as an improper way of reading a poem, enjoying only the innovative pieces and scorning the pieces which sustain a connection with the tradition. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 12 '14 at 14:48
  • No..That's not what I meant. I know that we enjoy only parts of them. But why didn't he say "in order for the poem to be enjoyed." This is grammatical. Without "for the poem" in order to be enjoyed means the subject of this is we. If so, it should be "in order to enjoy it." If im wrong here, I need furthur explanation. – user2492 Mar 12 '14 at 15:59
  • @username901345 He's saying that X (something innovative) must be taken out of the poem in order for X to be enjoyed, not in order for the poem to be enjoyed. – StoneyB on hiatus Mar 12 '14 at 16:19

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