In Response to: Letters to Emily

It’s fascinating that T.S. Eliot had such a close and enduring relationship with Emily Hale (“Letters to Emily,” March 18) and equally fascinating that voluminous testimony to it is finally available inside Firestone Library’s doors. Clearly, she was an inspiration to the man and his poetry for a time. Then, just as clearly, she was not — exhibited by Eliot’s own words and actions upon hearing that she had decided to make his letters available to the public. She wanted them out there. He wanted them burned. 

Why? The question has relevance today. What constitutes intellectual property, and who has the right to claim ownership of it? Would he have put pen to paper had it not been for her? Should Emily have shared the Nobel with him?

The real revelation in days ahead will be how a relationship of the mind and a relationship of the heart like theirs can come together, create brilliance, then come apart. This may well be as revealing about Eliot’s verses as the volumes already written. Meanwhile, I think it’s a little early to condemn the poet for “shoving” poor Emily “off her pedestal.” Would the story be on PAW’s cover in 2020 without “the dude” who has caused such a tweet storm? TBD. Both of them seemed determined to have the last word. Emily may have it yet. 

E.E. Norris ’72
Barneveld, N.Y.