Letteratura inglese II e III

• “The point de repère usually and conveniently taken as
the starting-point of modern poetry is the group
denominated ‘imagists’ in London about 1910. Their
historical importance is clear.” T. S. Eliot, American
Literature and the American Language
Imagism - In a Station of the
• The apparition of these faces in the
crowd;/Petals on a wet, black bough, In a
Station of the Metro, Ezra Pound
Imagism - Oread
• Whirl up, sea –/Whirl your pointed
pines,/Splash your great pines/On our
rocks,/Hurl your green over us,/Cover us
with your pools of fir. Oread,H.D.
• There are no similes in the poem, no symbols,
presentation rather than representation; no moralizing
tone; no reflection on human experience; no striving for
the spiritual; no fixed metre or rhyme – but a rhythm
organic to the image itself; no narrative; no vagueness of
abstractions – it would destroy the image. However,
there is a strong sense of the abstract caught up within
the concrete. Here we have an evocation by means of
an analogy taken to the point of perfect fusion. The sea
is the pine-wood; the pine-wood is the sea; and the
mountain nymph of the title becomes fused with the two.
The wind surrounds all three.
• Three distinct phases:
• Hulme’s 1909 group of poets who discussed a
new “dry and hard” poetic in their weekly
meetings in a Soho restaurant, the Eiffel Tower
• Pound’s ‘school of 1912’
• The post-Poundian Imagists whom Pound called
Amygists after Amy Lowell’s takeover. Yeats,
Eliot, Lawrence, Williams, Frost, Stevens,
M.Moore all come within the Imagist field of
• Pound mentions the name ‘Les Imagistes’ in
1912 (in his collection of poems Ripostes), the
name indicated the descendants of Hulme’s
forgotten school; included in Pound’s anthology
were five of Hulme’s poems
• 1912-1913 Pound sends some ‘imagist poems’
to the Chicago Poetry magazine (editor: Harriet
Monroe) and asks H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) to sign
herself ‘Imagiste’
• March 1913: Poetry publishes the Manifesto of Imagism,
presented as an interview to Pound by Flint, but mainly
written by Pound himself. Flint’s note contained the three
tenets of the school:
• 1) Direct treatment of the ‘thing’, whether subjective or
• 2) To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to
the presentation.
• 3) As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of
the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome
The Manifesto was accompanied by “A Few Don’ts by an Imagist” by
Image is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in
an instant of time
Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something.
Don’t use such an expression as ‘dim lands of peace’. It dulls the image. It
mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not
realizing that the natural object is always the adequate symbol.
Go in fear of abstraction. Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already
be done in good prose […]
Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or
that you can please the expert before you have spent at last as much effort
on the art of verse as the average piano teacher spends on the art of music
Use either no ornament or good ornament
• 1913: Harriet Monroe’s Poetry Magazine (first forum)
• Late 1913: Pound persuades Harriet Shaw Weaver to
turn the New Freewoman into The Egoist, which became
the school’s stronghold
• 1914: First anthology Des Imagistes (contributors: Joyce;
Ford, Pound, Aldington, H.D., Flint, Skipwith Cannell,
Allen Upward, John Cournos, W. Carlos Williams, Amy
• 1915, 1916, 1917: Three more anthologies, Some
Imagist Poets (Amy Lowell)
Hulme / Pound
• Nature presses in on the poet to be used
as metaphor
• Irregular verse
• Pound: the image is “that which presents
an intellectual and emotional complex in
an instant of time” (fusion of spontaneity,
intensity and critical discipline). It is an
equation for an emotion. Relation between
Objective correlative
• The only way of expressing emotions in the form
of art is by finding “an objective correlative”; in
other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain
of events which shall be the formula of that
particular emotion; such that when the external
facts, which must terminate in sensory
experience, are given, the emotion is directly
• T.S. Eliot, Hamlet, 1919
Hulme and image
• The poet “selects from a landscape certain
images which, put into juxtaposition in separate
lines, serve to evoke the state he feels. Two
visual images form a visual chord. They unite to
suggest an image which is different to both.”
• Pound: symbolism turned into anti-symbolism.
(The symbolist’s symbols have a fixed value,
cross for trial, etc.; softness)
• Brief points of maximum energy.
• The dawn whiteness,/A bank of slate-gray cloud lying
heavily over it./ The moon, like a hunted thing,
dropping into the cloud. (Joseph Campbell)
• Concentration on the image, essential, minimal
involvement by the poet, not manifestly symbolic in the
sense of standing in for anything distinct from its own
delimited surface meaning
T. E. Hulme
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