Immature poets imitate; mature poets steal

John mentioned this quote to me and I had to find it’s source as http://nancyprager.wordpress.com/2007/05/08/good-poets-borrow-great-poets-steal-not/ did. Turns out it is from criticism that T.S. Eliot wrote about Philip Massinger. It is a good notion that the really smart people just keep improving upon what others ahve done.

One of the surest tests [of the superiority or inferiority of a poet] 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 than that from which it is 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.

You could the same thing about everything from business to politics…