Ezra Pound--Some Points of Departure

Ezra Pound
Some Points of Departure
Pound’s Poetics
• "Make it new"
"A Few Dont's for an Imagist"
• 1. To present a direct treatment of the
thing described.
• 2. To use absolutely no word that does not
contribute to the presentation of the
• 3. To compose on the order of musical
cadence and phrasing, not according to
strict, unvarying rhythms.
"In a Station of the Metro“
The apparition of these faces in the crowd
Petals on a wet, black bough
In a letter to Iris Barry, Pound claimed to
have reduced "the whole art" to:
" a. concision, or style, or saying what you
mean in the fewest and clearest words.
b. the actual necessity for creating or
constructing something; of presenting an
image, or enough images of concrete
things arranged to stir the reader".
Critical Overview
Robert DiYanni in Modern American Poets: Their Voices
and Visions describes Pound's work as:
"Reacting against tendencies in late nineteenth-century
and early twentieth-century Victorian and Edwardian
verse--such as verbosity, didacticism, excessive
ornamentation, and metrical regularity--the Imagists
advocated precision and concreteness of detail,
concentration of language, and a freshness of rhythmic
cadence. Pound saw the image as the poet's pigment,
as the artist's way of making an impression visually,
intellectually, and emotionally.
Imagism and Vorticism
• "In a poem of this sort ["In a Station of the Metro
or other imagist works], one is trying to record
the precise instant when a thing outward and
objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing
inward and subjective".
• The image is "that which presents an intellectual
and emotional complex in an instant of time".
• The vortex is the "radiant node or cluster; . . .
from which, and through which, and into which,
ideas are constantly rushing."
Points of Departure
• What is the role of the poet or the artist in culture?
• How is culture described in the poem?
“There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization, “
• How do the themes in this poem anticipate those in
Eliot's The Wasteland?
• What do the two metaphors comparing the poet to
Odysseus in the first section of the poem and Antonio
Pisano in the second half of the poem suggest to you?
• What is the importance of the past in Pound's poetry?
• Does the poem hold out any hope for rebuilding and
restoring life’s meaning?
Some Possible Themes For
The profound disillusionment of the poet
The futility of poetic ambition
WWI and the waste of lives in war
Defending what clearly isn't worth defending
The Role of the Artist in Society
Loss of Values--personal and otherwise
The destructive consequences of materialism
Cultural Decay/Cultural Exhaustion
The Usable Past--retaining and renewing the
great literature and history of the past