On An Apparatus Of References And Allusions

Homer quoted from Greek mythology

Vergil quoted Homer.

Statius quoted Vergil.

Dante quoted Statius and Vergil.

Shakespeare took his ideas from plays in foreign languages.

John Milton quoted Homer and Vergil.

Alexander Pope quoted Homer, Vergil, Shakespeare and John Milton.

Robert Browning took his most elaborate idea from a book written in Italian, some hundred years before he was born.

Ezra Pound quoted Robert Browning.

T. S. Eliot quoted everybody.

Wallace Stevens quoted Papinni.


These are not cases of infringement.  


From T. S. Eliot's essay on Philip Massinger, in his book, The Sacred Wood:

One of the surest of tests is the way in which a poet borrows. 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; the bad poet throws it into something which has no cohesion. A good poet will usually borrow from authors remote in time, or alien in language, or diverse in interest.  Chapman borrowed from Seneca; Shakespeare and Webster from Montaigne.


View starward's Full Portfolio