The wind from out of the west is blowing
The homeward-wandering cows are lowing,
Dark grow the pine woods, dark and drear, —
The woods that bring the sunset near.
When o'er wide seas the sun declines,
Far off its fading glory shines,
Far off, sublime, and full of fear —
The pine woods bring the sunset near.
This house that looks to east, to west,
This dear one, is our home, our rest;
Yonder the stormy sea, and here
The woods that bring the sunset near.
It is the presentation of such a 'complex' instantaneously which gives the sense of sudden liberation; that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits; that sense of sudden growth, which we experience in the greatest works of art.
It is better to present one Image in a lifetime than to produce voluminous works. . . .
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 abstractions. Do not retell in mediocre verse what has already been done in good prose. (Pound 4-5)
When Shakespeare talks of the 'Dawn in russet mantle clad' he presents something which the painter does not present. There is in the line nothing which can be called description; he presents. (Pound 5)
Here is perhaps the most famous imagist poem, one clearly influenced by haiku, Ezra Pound's "In a Station of the Metro." Pound said of the composition of this work: "I wrote a thirty-line poem, and destroyed it because it was what we call work 'of second intensity.' Six months later I made a poem half that length; a year later I made the following hokku-like sentence:—
As one can tell by Pound's use of the word hokku, he clearly had haiku in mind when writing the poem. However, according to the modernist principle of "making it new," Pound does not simply copy haiku, but adapts it to the modern world of subway stations and anonymous faces in the crowd. The form of Pound's poem differs also from classical haiku: it has only two lines and more than 17 syllables. However, like many haiku, it does juxtapose two different images. Other ancient short forms were "made new" by the imagists, most notably the four-line Chinese lyric and the short poems and fragments from ancient Greece collected in the Greek Anthology.The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.("Vorticism" 89)
Perhaps because Pound began to see imagism as a "stylistic movement, a movement of criticism rather than creation"("Vorticism" 82), he soon moved beyond imagism to a new poetic movement he called vorticism. While the rules and "don'ts" of imagism were designed to improve poetic writing but not necessarily to produce complete poems, vorticism was designed as a movement whose principles would apply to all the arts and be capable of producing complete works of art. Pound also wanted to add to the image further movement, dynamism, and intensity:
1. In what ways can mere images suggest more in these poems? What do you think might be the point(s) of such a poetry?
2. Remember Pound's definition of an image as "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time." Try to figure out in what ways the images presented by these poems are "a complex" (in the psychological sense) of emotion and intellect. What complex emotions and thoughts does the image present?
Al Filreis' William Carlos Williams links
Al Filreis on Imagism
Al Filreis' "the rise of imagism"
Amy Lowell's Notes "On Imagism"
Some Imagist Poets: An Anthology (1915)
American Modernist Writers and the Orient
Ezra Pound:"A Retrospect" (Pound's imagist theories)
MAPS Pound page
Cyber-version of Canto LXXXI
SUNY Buffalo Pound page
Academy of American Poets Pound page
Pound's Collected Poetry Recordings (Penn Sound)
ENG 382 Nature Writing Syllabus
ENG 383 Literary Modernism Syllabus
ENG 320 links