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American Poetry: Imagism, Ezra Pound & Amy Lowell

Pound: Born-Died
1885-1972
Born, Hailey, Idaho
Died in Venice, Italy, with wife Olga Rudge

Pound’s Poetry style
– Modern verse–of ellipses to indicate panicky tone
– “Make it new”
– Magic moments, experimental; free verse; instant of time
– “Poetry must be as well written as prose”
– No fluff: minimalistic approach
– Inspiration from Chinese/Japanese poetry
– Condensing ideas in symbols, must be SIMPLE; stark
– Don’t imagine the art of poetry as any simpler than the art of music
*Worst mistake: “that stupid suburban prejudice of anti-Semitism”

Pound’s def. of Imagism
1) Direct treatment of the object, whether subjective or objective
2) No superfluous words; don’t be viewy
3) Sound over meaning; rhythm

DON’TS: superfluous words, abstractions, ornaments, end stop lines, fixed meters

Pound’s def of an image:
An image is that which presents an intellectual & emotional complex in an instant of time

Portrait d’une Ferme – Pound
1912
French “Portrait of a women”
Use of colons
Great minds have sought you, lacking someone else
Rather be 2nd best than to settle for a dull life
“Yet this is you”

Pound/Lowell conflict
Pound resented Amy for taking over Imagism–he called it Amygism
In turn promoted Vorticism– image of force rather than a picture

The Cantos
Pound started in 1915
Principle work
Concrete > abstract
Techniques of compression, elision, juxtaposition
Realizations from the past, coming into being

In a Station of the Metro – Pound
1913, 1916
Condensed from 36 lines to 2
Apparition of faces in a crowd, compared to petals on a black bough
paint a single image was enough

The Rest – Pound
1913, 1916
Use of you, who is you

The River-Merchant’s Wife: A letter – Pound
1915
Chinese poem, reference to the rivers

Lowell Born, Died:
1874-1925
Born an died in Massachusetts

Lowell poetry style
Lesbian-liberated women
Feminist intentions
Concentration = the very essence of poetry
Crystalline hard-edged; claer
Mixed formal and free verse
<3's Keats Exact, present image

Venus Transiens – Lowell
1919
Inspiration from painting by Italian artist Sandro Botticielli–direct reference in poem
Godess-like mermaid figure floating on the wave on plaited shell
Venus – Roman goddess of love and beauty

A Decade – Lowell
1919
Red wine, honey–sweet sex, satiety (satisfied)
Bread in the morning–satisfaction
Erotic; 10th anniversary with Ada Russel

Shore Grass – Lowell
Get the image w/ the way the words are strung together
Calmness of the sea
Light sound and wind in cadenced lang (rhythmic pattern that is non-metrically structured; free verse)

Theories of Imagism
– Poetry = verbal exactitude & rhythmic invention
– Open to subject, reliance on image- clarity & concentration
– Make it new — revive & transmit past (no dead lang)
– Avant guard: experimental seeking alternatives
– Range of styles/forms/multiculturalism
– Condense + present complex ideas: compression of lang
– Direct treatment of thing–> vague & scientific
– Rhythm: music over pattern
– Skepticism of imagination

Lowell def of Imagism:
1) Use lang of common speech
2) Create new rhythms
3) Allow absolute freedom in choice of subject
4) Present an image
5) Poetry that is Hard and Clear, no blurred or indefinite
6) Concentration = the essence of poetry

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