> "In a Station of the Metro" is considered the "type" Imagist poem. An
> Image transports the reader to another perceptual plane. "In a Station
> of the Metro" consists of two lines. Each line is an image (little "I")
> or scene. When one reads the two lines one is transported to another
> perceptual plane. One perceives something that is not given in the
> text. I used it as an example of the ideogrammic method in a tortured
> fashion. The proper ideogram is formed from the juxtapositioning of
> Images (big "I"). One "can" read "In a Station of the Metro" as two
> Images (big "I") which are juxtaposed. I used that poem because of its
> fame and general familiarity to all.
EZRA LOOMIS POUND (1885-1972)
IN A STATION OF THE METRO
1 The apparition of these faces in the crowd :
2 Petals on a wet, black bough .
I picked up the poem from
which also has a comment on it by Pound. Below is more from that page.
See Pound's commentary on this poem in his article "Vorticism," The
Fortnightly Review 571 (Sept. 1, 1914): 465-67 (AP 4 F7 Robarts Library):
Three years ago in Paris I got out of a "metro" train at La Concorde,
and saw suddenly a beautiful face, and then another and another, and then a
beautiful child's face, and then another beautiful woman, and I tried all
that day to find words for what this had meant to me, and I could not find
any words that seemed to me worthy, or as lovely as that sudden emotion. And
that evening, as I went home along the Rue Raynouard, I was still trying,
and I found, suddenly, the expression. I do not mean that I found words, but
there came an equation ... not in speech, but in little spotches of colour.
It was just that -- a "pattern," or hardly a pattern, if by "pattern" you
mean something with a "repeat" in it. But it was a word, the beginning, for
me, of a language in colour. I do not mean that I was unfamiliar with the
kindergarten stories about colours being like tones in music. I think that
sort of thing is nonsense. If you try to make notes permanently correspond
with particular colours, it is like tying narrow meanings to symbols.
That evening, in the Rue Raynouard, I realised quite vividly that if I
were a painter, or if I had, often, that kind of emotion, or even if I had
the energy to get paints and brushes and keep at it, I might found a new
school of painting, of "non-representative" painting, a painting that would
speak only by arrangements in colour. ....
That is to say, my experience in Paris should have gone into paint ...
The "one image poem" is a form of super-position, that is to say it is
one idea set on top of another. I found it useful in getting out of the
impasse in which I had been left by my metro emotion. 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."
I dare say it is meaningless unless one has drifted into a certain vein of
thought. In a poem of this sort one is trying to record the precise instant
when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing
inward and subjective."
This particular sort of consciousness has not been identified with
impressionist art. I think it is worthy of attention.
See also a republication of this essay in Pound's Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir
(1916; London: New Directions, 1960): 86-89).
The lines have no spaced words in 1916.