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“In a Station of the Metro” By Ezra Pound (1885-1972). The apparition of these faces in the crowd; Petals on a wet, black bough. (1913).

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in a station of the metro by ezra pound 1885 1972
“In a Station of the Metro”By Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

(1913)

slide2
"In a poem of this sort, one is trying to record the precise instant when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective."

-- Ezra Pound

modernism
MODERNISM
  • The English novelist Virginia Woolf declared that human nature underwent a fundamental change "on or about December 1910." The statement testifies to the modern writer's fervent desire to break with the past, rejecting literary traditions that seemed outmoded and diction that seemed too genteel to suit an era of technological breakthroughs and global violence.
  • "On or about 1910," there was an explosion of innovation and creativeenergy that shook every field of artistic endeavor. Artists from all over the world converged on London, Paris, and other great cities of Europe to join in the ferment of new ideas and movements: Cubism, Constructivism, Futurism, Acmeism, and Imagism were among the most influential banners under which the new artists grouped themselves. It was an era when major artists were fundamentally questioning and reinventing their art forms.
modernism1
MODERNISM
  • The excitement, however, came to a terrible climax in 1914 with the start of the First World War, which wiped out a generation of young men in Europe, catapulted Russia into a catastrophic revolution, and sowed the seeds for even worse conflagrations in the decades to follow. By the war's end in 1918, the centuries-old European domination of the world had ended and the "American Century" had begun. For artists and many others in Europe, it was a time of profound disillusion with the values on which a whole civilization had been founded.
  • But it was also a time when the avant-garde experiments that had preceded the war would, like the technological wonders of the airplane and the atom, inexorably establish a new dispensation: MODERNISM. Among the most instrumental of all artists in effecting this change were a handful of American poets. Ezra Pound, the most aggressively modern of these poets, made "Make it new!" his battle cry.Pound and others exalted the imagination for its ability to "press back against the pressure of reality."
ezra pound
Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a Modernist aesthetic in poetry. In the early teens of the twentieth century, he opened a seminal exchange of work and ideas between British and American writers, and was famous for the generosity with which he advanced the work of such major contemporaries as William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and especially T.S. Eliot. His own significant contributions to poetry begin with his promulgation of Imagism, a movement in poetry which derived its technique from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry--stressing clarity, precision, and economy of language, and foregoing traditional rhyme and meter in order to, in Pound's words, "compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of the metronome."

(Source: www.poets.org, The Academy of American Poets)

imagism discussion definition
Imagism – Discussion & Definition
  • The Imagist movement included English and American poets in the early twentieth century who wrote in open form (what used to be called “free verse”) and were devoted to "clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images." Imagism was officially launched in 1912 by the American poet Ezra Pound.
  • The movement sprang from ideas developed by T.E. Hulme, who as early as 1908 was proposing a poetry based on absolutely accurate presentation of its subject with no excess verbiage. The first tenet of the Imagist manifesto was "To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.”
  • Imagism was a reaction against the flabby abstract language and "careless thinking" of Romanticism. Imagist poetry aimed to replace muddy abstractions with exactness of observed detail, apt metaphors, and economy of language. For example, Pound's "In a Station of the Metro" started from a glimpse of beautiful faces in a dark subway and elevated that perception into a crisp vision by finding an intensified equivalent image. The metaphor provokes a sharp, intuitive discovery in order to get at the essence of life.
imagism discussion definition continued
Imagism – Discussion & Definition (continued)
  • Pound's definition of the image was "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time."

Pound defined the tenets of Imagist poetry as:

I. Direct treatment of the "thing," whether subjective or objective.

II. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.

III. As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome.

  • Though Imagism as a sub-movement of Modernism was over by 1917, the ideas about poetry embedded in the Imagist doctrine profoundly influenced open form poets throughout the twentieth century and down to today.
a pact 1913 by ezra pound
“A Pact” (1913)by Ezra Pound

I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman—

I have detested you long enough.

I come to you as a grown child

Who has had a pig-headed father;

I am old enough now to make friends.

It was you that broke the new wood,

Now it is time for carving.

We have one sap and one root—

Let there be commerce between us.

william carlos williams 1883 1963
William Carlos Williams(1883-1963)

William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883. He began writing poetry while a student at Horace Mann High School, at which time he made the decision to become both a writer and a doctor. He received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and befriended Ezra Pound. Pound became a great influence in Williams' writing, and in 1913 arranged for the London publication of Williams's second collection, The Tempers.

Returning to Rutherford, where he sustained his medical practice throughout his life, Williams began publishing in small magazines and embarked on a prolific career as a poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Following Pound, he was one of the principal poets of the Imagist movement, though as time went on, he began to increasingly disagree with the values put forth in the work of Pound, who he felt was too attached to European culture and traditions.

(Source: www.poets.org, The Academy of American Poets)

william carlos williams 1883 19631
William Carlos Williams(1883-1963)

Continuing to experiment with new techniques of meter and lineation, Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh—and singularly American—poetic, whose subject matter was centered on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people.

His influence as a poet spread slowly during the twenties and thirties; however, his work received increasing attention in the 1950s and 1960s as younger poets, including Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, were impressed by the accessibility of his language and his openness as a mentor.

(Source:www.poets.org, The Academy of American Poets)

the uses of poetry by william carlos williams
“The Uses of Poetry”By William Carlos Williams

I've fond anticipation of a day

O'erfilled with pure diversion presently,

For I must read a lady poesy

The while we glide by many a leafy bay,

Hid deep in rushes, where at random play

The glossy black winged May-flies, or whence flee

Hush-throated nestlings in alarm,

Whom we have idly frighted with our boat's long sway.

For, lest o'ersaddened by such woes as spring

To rural peace from our meek onward trend,

What else more fit? We'll draw the latch-string

And close the door of sense; then satiate wend,

On poesy's transforming giant wing,

To worlds afar whose fruits all anguish mend.

this is just to say by william carlos williams
“This Is Just To Say”By William Carlos Williams

I have eaten the plums that were in the icebox and which you were probably saving for breakfast Forgive me they were delicious so sweet and so cold

the red wheelbarrow by william carlos williams
“The Red Wheelbarrow”By William Carlos Williams

so much depends upon a red wheel barrow glazed with rain water beside the white chickens.

to a poor old woman by william carlos williams
“To A Poor Old Woman”By William Carlos Williams

munching a plum on the street a paper bag of them in her hand They taste good to her They taste good to her. They taste good to her You can see it by the way she gives herself to the one half sucked out in her hand Comforted a solace of ripe plums seeming to fill the air They taste good to her