Imagery Poets

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    Comparing Literary Works

    The Imagist PoetsEzra Pound (1885-1972 )

    As bo th an editor and apoet, Ezra Pound inspiredthe dramatic cha nges inAmerican poetry that ch arac terized the Modern Age.Pound 's insistence th at writers m ake it new led many

    poets to di scard the form s, tec hn iques, and ideas of the past and

    to experiment with new approaches to poet ry.Pound influ en ced th e work of th e Irish poet

    W illiam Burler Yeats, as weII as tha t of T. S. Eliot,William Carlos Williams, H. D., Marianne Moore,and Ernest H emingway a who's who of the literary voices of the age . H e is best remembered,however, for h is role in the developmentof Imagism.

    Despite his preoccupation with or iginality andinventiveness, Pound's work often drew upon thepoet ry of ancient cultures. Many of his poems arefilled with literary and histor ical allusions, whi chcan make th e poems difficul t to interpret withouthaving the approp riate background information.Fall From Grace In 1925, Pound settled in Ital y.Moti vated by th e mistaken belief th at a co untrygoverned by a powerful dict ator was the most conducive environme nt for the crea tio n of a rt, Poundbecame an outspoken supporter of Italian dict atorBen i to Mussolini during World War II. In 1943,the American government indic ted Pound fortreason; in 1945, he was arrested by Americantroops and imprisoned. A fter being flown bac k tothe United Sta tes in 1945, he was judged psychologically unfi t to sta nd trial and was confined toa hospital for th e crimina lly insan e. There herem ained until 1958, when he was released duelargely to th e efforts of the literary commun ity hehad so do ggedly supported over the years. H ereturned to Italy, where h e lived until his death .

    William Carlos Williams(1883-1963)

    Unlike hi s fellow Imagists,William Ca rlos i l l i spe nt most of hi s life ithe United Sta tes, wherehe pursued a double car eeras a poet and a pediatrician

    in N ew Jersey. He felt hisexpe riences as a doctor help Jd

    prov ide him with inspirati on as a poet , creditingmed icine for his ability to gain ent rance to . . .th e sec ret gardens of the self.The ch ild of immigrants, Will iams grew up

    speaking Spanish, French, and British English.Neve rtheless, he was e namored of Am ericanlanguage and life. He rejected the views of h isco llege friend, Ezra Pou nd, who be lieved in u:i ngallusion s to history, rel igion, and ancient literatur e. W illiams focused instead on capturing theessence of modern Am erican life by dep ictingordinary people, objec ts, and expe riences usingcurrent , everyday language. JThe Poetry of Daily Life In volumes such a.Spring and All (1923) and In the American Grain(1925), W illiams cap tured the essence of life and landscape. He avo ided offering explan tions,remarking th at a poe t should deal in No idea J butin things';--eoncrete images that speak for themselves, evoking emotions and ideas, .

    In his later work, W illiams departed rom PlureImagism in orde r to write more expa nsively. Hisfive-volume poem Paterson 194 58) explores theidea of a city as a symbol for a ma n. The poe n isbased on the real ci ty of Paterson , New

    W illiams continued to write even after hisfailing health forced him to gi ve up his medi calpractice. In 1963, he received a Pulitzer PrizJ forPictures from reughel and Other Poems, his fit tvo lume of poe try.

    726 Disillusion, Defiance, andDiscontent (1914-1 946)

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    H. D. Hilda Doolittle )(1886-1961 )In 19 13, whe n Ezra

    Pound reshaped three ofHild a Doo little's poemsand submi tted th em toPoetr) magazine under the

    name H. D., Imagiste, th e

    creating innovative musical lines in her poetry.With these unu sual tech n iques, H. D. focusedmuch of her poe try and prose on th e issues of herday World Wars I and II, the growing in terest inth e human psych e created by Sigmund Freud'swork, and th e blossoming film medium.

    In 1925, almost all of H . D.'s ea rly poems weregathered in Collected Poems, a volume th at alsocont ained her translations from th e Odysse) andfrom the Greek poe t Sappho, Sh e also wrote aImagist movement was born.The publication of th e poems also play-HiN)olytus Temporizes, which appeared inservt'ld to u n c ~ th e career of the youn g 1927 and two prose works Palimpsest (1926)poet , who continued to publish under the name and (1928). During the later stages ofH. D. throughout her life.her career, she focused on writing longer works, in Pennsylvania, Doolittle was only including an epic poem. H. D. is best remembered,fiftecb when she first met Ezra Po und, who was however, for her ea rly Imagist poet ry.stud)hng at the Un iversity of Pennsylvania . In 1911,

    Doolittle moved to London and renewed Jher at quaintance with Pound. She married Background on Imagisma elo Ie friend of his, th e English poet Imagism was a literary movement established in the earlyRichard A ldington, but the marriage strug- 1900s by Ezra Pound and other poets. As the name suggestsgled knd failed durin g World War I when the Imagists concentrated on the direct presentation of left to fight in France. Doolittle images or word pictures. An Imagist po em expressed theremained a short while in London, where essence of an object person or incident without p rovidingshe 0ecame a leader of the Imagist group. explanations. Through the spare clean presentation of anShe Jcturned to the United Sta tes ami set- image the Imagists hoped to freeze a single moment in timetled in Ca lifornia, where she remained for a and to captu re t he emotions of that moment. To accomplishthis purpose the Imagists used the language of eve rydayshe n oved to Switzerland , and lived thereyear before going back to England . In 1921, speech carefully choosing each word. They also shied away

    from traditional poetic patterns focusing instead on creatinguntil her death . new music al rhythms .Clas ically Inspired Like th e G reek The Imagists were strongly influenced by traditionallyric that she so greatly admired, H. D.'s Chinese and Japanese poetry. Many Imagist poems bearearlylpoems were brief, precise, and a close resemblance to the Japanese verse fo rms of haikudirec t. O ften emphasizing light , co lor, and tanka wh ich generally evoke an emotional responseand Ihysical textures, she created vivid, through the presentation of a single image or a pair ofemotive images. Like o ther Imagist contrasting images.Ipoets , H. D. used eve ryday speec h, The Imagist movement was short-lived last ing only untilcare fully and sparingly chosen to evoke about 1918. However for many years that followed thean eruot ional respon se, to freeze a single poems of Pound Williams HD. and other Imagists contin in time. She also abando ned ued to influence the work of other poets including WallaceStevens 1.S. Eliot and Hart Crane .radi honal rhythmical pa tte rns, instead r

    The magis t Poets 727

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    PreviewConnecting to the LiteratureYou may know what it is like t have a song s tick in your mind, bu t

    have you ever had an image lodge there ? The poems you are about tread capture in words some of th e striking images th at lodged in theminds and emotions of the Imagists.Literary AnalysisImagist Poetry

    Im agist poems focus on evoking emotion and sparking the imagination th rough th e vivid presentation of a limited number of images. Ina S tation of the Metro, for example, presents j ust two images and co nsists o f o n ly two line s and fourteen well-chose n words. Few poems havebeen written that convey so much meaning with such brevity.Comparing Litera ry Works

    In h is essay A Few Don 'ts by an Imagiste, Ezra Pound describes th eimage as something more th an a simple word- picture. Instead, he says itis that which presents an in tellectual and emotional com plex in aninstant of time.

    For Pound , the image br ings the reader a new way of seein on th ephysical level th rough the senses, and on h igher levels through th e emotions an d intellect. As you read th ese poems, think about which on es bestachieve th e effect of that sense of sudden grow th th at Po und beli evedwas th e highest ach ieve ment of art.Reading StrategyEngaging Your Senses

    These poems are filled with viv id imagery words or phrases th atappea l t the senses . As you encoun ter each image, engage your sensesby re-creating in your mind th e sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and physicalsensat ion s associ ated with th e image. Als o note that some images appealt more th an one sense. For examp le, you can almost see an d feel thethickness in the ai r as H. D. ca lls on the wind in Heat :

    Cut the heat- / plow through it, / Turning it on either sideUse a chart like the one shown to record th e ways in whi ch you engageyour senses as you read th ese poe ms.Vocabulary D evelopmentvoluminous (va loom a nss) adj of apparition (ap a rish an) n. act ofenough material t fill volumes appearing or becoming visible (p. 734)(p. 729)dogma og rna) n. author ita tivedoctrines or beliefs (p. 729)728 isillusion efi nce and Discontent ( 1914- 1946)

    Isee the crowd,faces, petals

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    Few Don'ts y anIM GIST II Ezra PoundBac ground

    Ezra Pound was one of the leading figures in the Imagist movementAs the ame suggests , Imagists concentrated on the focused presentation ofimages or word-pictures. For example, Pound's original draft of "In a Stationof the fY1etro consisted of 30 lines. Pound whittled away at the poem until hearrived lat a work of only 14 words of great precision and power. In this essay,Pound p iscusses his beliefs about what poetry should and should not be.

    A n Image is that which presents an intellectual and emotionalcomplex