Sunday, March 2, 2008

Imagist Poetry


"Imagism" refers to a poetic movement in the early 20th century. Imagist work, which rejected the formal poetic structure of Romantic and Victorian poetry, was a precursor to Modernism.

Imagist poetry is characterized by precise imagery, and clear, sharp language. Ezra Pound, considered one of the founders of Imagist poetry, said that the poetry relied on "luminous details" to isolate a single image to convey its essence, and thus its meaning.

Imagists were influenced by the ancient Japanese poetic form of haiku, which focused the mind on one image.


This is an excerpt of Victorian poet William Ernest Henley's Invictus -

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever Gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.

Compare this with Ezra Pound's In a Station of the Metro-

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

(This is the whole poem)

What images does Pound evoke in your mind?

This poetic movement existed at the same time as avant-garde visual arts were developing.

See if you can identify painters who were producing work at the same time as Pound ( 1915-17) and which artistic movement they are associated with.

(Carafe, Jug & Fruit Bowl, Picasso 1909 [l] ; Violin & Palette, Braque 1909[r])


vanessa said...

I think it is interesting that you posted Picasso's paintings on the site. Although my dear friend Pablo is an avant garde artist, his works seem so much more disjointed than Ezra Pound's lyrical/natural imagery style. Pound's "In the Station on the Metro" seemed almost mellifluous. "The apparition of these faces in the crowd" conjures a blurry image. Yet, after searching the internet, I came across a quote from Guy Davenport
(Contemporary Literature, Vol. 11, No. 4 (Autumn, 1970)). He claims that Pound was not only "the most diligent of the creators of the Renaissance in 1910" but also that "Pound, like Picasso, explored simultaneously the full range of resources of his art and the transmutation of his resources to his own ends. Thus, what has appeared for some decades as Pound's entrapment of limitation now comes into focus as sustained searching-out techniques. The analogy with Picasso is amazingly close."
-So, I guess their approaches were similar because they were both audacious and willing to experiment?

Byrne's English12AP said...

Vanessa- I think Pound and Picasso both were interested in "breaking forms"; that is, they wanted to break with conventional forms of Romantic and Victorian poetry and art. Tradition- as epitomized in verse and painting, was not worth preserving, or at the very least, need to be shaken up.

Poets and artists seem to be in the forefront when it comes to breaking with tradition in order to create new ways of seeing and feeling, whether conceptually, metaphorically or linguistically.

VNTuongLai said...

You’re invited to view my video “Bat Khuat (Tap 4)” which features the song Bat Khuat that was inspired by the poem Invictus.