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Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound
The man who shaped Modernism!

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Ezra Pound, in full Ezra Loomis Pound (born Oct. 30,

1885, Hailey,Idaho, U.S.died Nov. 1, 1972, Venice, Italy
), American poet and critic, a supremely discerning and energetic
entrepreneur of the arts who did more than any other single figure to
advance a modern movement in English and American literature.
Pound promoted, and also occasionally helped to shape, the work
of such widely different poets and novelists as William Butler Yeats,
James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, Robert Frost, D.H. Lawrence,
and T.S. Eliot. His pro-Fascist broadcasts in Italy during World War II
led to his postwar arrest and confinement until 1958.

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)
In the autumn of 1907, Pound became professor of
Romance languages at Wabash Presbyterian College,
Crawfordsville, Ind. Although his general behaviour fairly
reflected his Presbyterian upbringing, he was already
writing poetry and was affecting a bohemian manner. His
career came quickly to an end, and in February 1908,
with light luggage and the manuscript of a book of
poems that had been rejected by at least one American
publisher, he set sail for Europe.

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

Pound was born in a small mining town in Idaho, the only child of a Federal Land
Office official, Homer Loomis Pound of Wisconsin, and Isabel Weston of New
York City. About 1887 the family moved to the eastern states, and in June 1889,
following Homer Pounds appointment to the U.S. Mint in Philadelphia, they
settled in nearby Wyncote, where Pound lived a normal middle-class childhood.
After two years at Cheltenham Military Academy, which he left without
graduating, he attended a local high school. From there he went for two years
(190103) to the University of Pennsylvania, where he met his lifelong friend, the
poet William Carlos Williams. He took a Ph.B. (bachelor of philosophy) degree at
Hamilton College, Clinton, N.Y., in 1905 and returned to the University of
Pennsylvania for graduate work. He received his M.A. in June 1906 but withdrew
from the university after working one more year toward his doctorate. He left with
a knowledge of Latin, Greek, French, Italian, German, Spanish, Provenal, and
Anglo-Saxon, as well as of English literature and grammar.

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)
He had been to Europe three times before, the
third time alone in the summer of 1906, when he
had gathered the material for his first three
published articles: Raphaelite Latin, concerning
the Latin poets of the Renaissance,
and Interesting French Publications, concerning
the troubadours (both published in the Book
News Monthly, Philadelphia, September 1906),
and Burgos, a Dream City of Old
Castile (October issue).

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)
Now, with little money, he sailed to Gibraltar and
southern Spain, then on to Venice, where in June 1908
he published, at his own expense, his first book of
poems, A lume spento. About September 1908 he went
to London, where he was befriended by the writer and
editor Ford Madox Ford (who published him in
his English Review), entered William Butler Yeatss
circle, and joined the school of images, a modern group
presided over by the philosopher T.E. Hulme.

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

In England, success came quickly to Pound. A book of poems,

Personae, was published in April 1909; a second book, Exultations,
followed in October; and a third book, The Spirit of Romance, based
on lectures delivered in London (190910), was published in 1910.
After a trip homea last desperate and unsuccessful attempt to
make a literary life for himself in Philadelphia or New York Cityhe
returned to Europe in February 1911, visiting Italy, Germany, and
France. Toward the end of 1911 he met an English journalist,
Alfred R. Orage, editor of the socialist weekly New Age, who opened
its pages to him and provided him with a small but regular income
during the next nine years.

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

In 1912 Pound became London correspondent for the small

magazine Poetry (Chicago); he did much to enhance the
magazines importance and was soon a dominant figure in AngloAmerican verse. He was among the first to recognize and review the
poetry of Robert Frost and D.H. Lawrence and to praise the
sculpture of the modernists Jacob Epstein and
Henri Gaudier-Brzeska. As leader of the Imagistmovement of 1912
14, successor of the school of images, he drew up the first Imagist
manifesto, with its emphasis on direct and sparse language and
precise images in poetry, and he edited the first Imagist
anthology, Des Imagistes (1914).

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)

A shaper of modern literature

Though his friend Yeats had already become famous, Pound
succeeded in persuading him to adopt a new, leaner style of poetic
composition. In 1914, the year of his marriage to Dorothy
Shakespear, daughter of Yeatss friend Olivia Shakespear, he began
a collaboration with the then-unknown James Joyce. As unofficial
editor of The Egoist (London) and later as London editor of The
Little Review (New York City), he saw to the publication of Joyces
novels Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man and Ulysses, thus
spreading Joyces name and securing financial assistance for him.
In that same year he gave T.S. Eliot a similar start in his career as
poet and critic.

Pounds Biography
(Encyclopedia Britannica)
He continued to publish his own poetry
(Ripostes, 1912; Lustra, 1916)
and prose criticism (Pavannes and Divisions,
1918). From the literary remains of the great
Orientalist Ernest Fenollosa, which had been
presented to Pound in 1913, he succeeded in
publishing highly acclaimed English versions of
early Chinese poetry, Cathay (1915), and two
volumes of Japanese Noh plays (191617) as




Vortograph portrait of Ezra Pound by Alvin

Langdon Coburn

Contributions to Modernist Poetry

More than any other writer, he was
responsible for dramatic changes
occurring with poetry.
Urged writers to make it new
Influenced other writers to discard
traditional forms, techniques, and ideas
Experimented with new approaches
His movement was called IMAGISM

Poetry in Pictures
Imagist poets focused their writing on simple images. They attempted to
use words to paint pictures in their readers minds.

What is Imagism?
A poetic movement established
in1912 by American and English
poets Ezra Pound, Hilda Doolittle,
Richard Aldington, and F. S. Flint
Inspired by the critical views of T.E.
Hulme, in response to the careless
thought and Romantic optimism he
saw prevailing in the literary arena.

Led by Ezra Pound, this poetic movement

was part of a poetic insurgence against
genteel poetry, which was overly
sentimental and emotionally dishonest.
Imagist poets believed that Romantic art
was oveexcessively subjective, and argued
for a renewed emphasis on the object-like
nature of the art-work.
Imagists penned concise verses with dry
piercing clarity, exacting visual images and

Poetry written that evokes pictures or images for
the reader
Direct presentation of images, or word pictures
Word choice is specific
Adjectives are used to enhance the specificity of
word choice, BUT they are not over-used.
Attempt to freeze a single moment in time and
capture the emotions of that moment
Imagist poetry often reflect influences of haiku or

Pounds Poetry
His poetry reflects a deep interest in the
past, particularly of ancient cultures
Chinese, Japanese, and Provencal French
Poems are filled with literary and historical
His poems are difficult to understand
because they are void of explanations and
Wrote The Cantos, long poetic sequence
where he expressed his beliefs (eventually
totaling 116 cantos)

Influences on Imagism
Imagist poems were influenced by Japanese haiku
poems of seventeen syllables which usually present
only two juxtaposed images.
This poetry strives to suggests more than its literal
meaning, yet avoids overt figurative devices like
allegories and metaphors.
Ezra Pounds poem In a Station of the Metro is a clear
example of Japanese influence. Pound states, 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:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

An allusion is a reference to something
well known (ie: piece of art, literature,
historical event)

Pounds Poem

"In A Station of the Metro"

In this poem the poet intends the reader to understand

that the faces seen in a subway station are like wet,
fallen flower petals on a bough. However, the poet also
wants to deepen the reader's perception. This Pound
accomplishes by the word that appears at the head of
the poem: 'apparition'. In this single word Pound displaying his Modernist credentials - allies himself with
the tradition in western poetry of comparing souls to
fallen leaves. These people may have been observed in
a subway station, but the reader is meant
to perceive them as figurative spirits of the dead - a
standard Modernist allusion.

"In A Station of the Metro"

There are no verbs in this poem, making it only a juxtaposition of

two images. I use that word, juxtaposition, not to be pretentious but
to convey a sense of visual placement, as if the poet were a painter
and these images are visibly beside each other as if in a painting.
The semicolon is an interesting choice. Given that Pound described
this poem as an equation, and that the semicolon can be used to
(somewhat paradoxically) link related, independent clauses, it
functions as an equal sign, providing two ways of expressing a
similar thing. Whereas 2 + 2 and 4 are figures or symbols that
express the same "quantity," the "apparition of these faces in the
crowd" and "petals on a wet, black bough" express a similar