The Primitive Ear

W.B. Yeats

Your chief weakness as a writer seems to be a failure to admit the august nature of your inspiration. You speak almost always like FO’C. That is fine. You have the best ear of anybody in the trade for the rhythms of colloquial speech. [. . .] [Y]ou have this enormous advantage: what Yeats called the primitive ear. He had it, too and got a lot out of it. But you have another kind of ear, one that is attuned to–shall we say the music of the spheres? It is attuned to that music or you would not choose the subjects you choose.

–Caroline Gordon to Flannery O’Connor, 26 January 1958, The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon

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