For info on the ideogrammic method see: Laszlo K Gefin (accent mark over the
"e"); "Ideogram: History of a Poetic Method". Pound develops the method
scattered over numerous books, essays and letters which makes it difficult
to reference through Pound.
Regarding the Chinese arranging their ideograms as spatial art: Speakers of
tonal languages such as Vietnamese often arrange/choose their words for the
beauty of the song, Arabic and Farsi (Persian/Iranian) writers also choose
words for their visual beauty.
Gefin and Yip (in "Ezra Pound's 'Cathay'") would include as poets using
Pound's ideogrammic method, Williams, Olson, Creeley, Snyder, Zukofsky,
Reznikoff, Oppen, Duncan and Ginsburg.(page xviii of Gefin)
Regarding TSE and TWL, Gefin states, "But Eliot, apart from 'The Waste
Land', is not ideogrammic"( page xviii). This would seem to include TWL, in
Gefin's thinking, as an ideogrammic poem. He goes on to state that even
given TWL as ideogrammic it differs from other ideogrammic poetry in being
"analytical in approach and form" whereas other ideogrammic poetry is
"synthetical". I do not fully understand Gefin's distinction here and need
to study it much more. He also implies that TSE's non-use of the
ideogrammic method, except for TWL, was part of the reason for Williams'
disapproval of TSE. Gefin states that Pound's poems "Homage to Sextus
Propertius" and "Mauberley" also follow the analytical distinction vice
synthetical. "Homage" is another of Pound's creative translations.
Nancy has alluded to her problems with finding structure in TWL. ( I hope
I'm not putting words in her mouth but that has been my sense of what she
has said in the past. ) An ideogrammic poem would properly have a very
special structure that would fit no norms for literary structure as the
word is commonly used by critics.
Ideogrammic poetry approaches spatial art. I am currently reading Donald
Davie "Ezra Pound: Poet as Sculptor". The Image which is used is still
temporal as it must be being language. The juxtapositioning of Images
creates a poem that may be very spatial and not temporal at all since that
poem is formed at the intersections of the Images and does not involve
language. If I state "rust" , "robin", "blood", "rose", "cherry", "apple",
"radish", "wheelbarrow" :>), your mind will create a composite "image"
(little i) of the concept "red". I never say red, it is not part of the
statement, yet your mind supplies it. The words "rust", "blood",
"wheelbarrow" etc. are images (I don't want to call them Images [big "I"])
which combine into the ideogram in your mind for "red". A poet using this
method can transport you to conceptual levels you would not otherwise visit.
"In a Station of the Metro" does this. In the poem there are two Images
(big "I") and one composite poem which forms at the intersection of the
Images. Nothing prevents the poet from using Images to form ideograms and
then juxtaposing ideograms to form a super-ideogram. TWL may very well be a
Retreating towards my red rock's shadow in anticipation of correction by the
McIntosh, NM, USA
From: Rickard Parker <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2001 4:26 AM
Subject: Re: Stetson in The Waste Land
>I pretty sure that I'm not getting the full meaning of this post but I do
>see that the part about the deograms leving out part of the thought and
>having to be supplied by the reader. I'm not going to be able to discuss
>this knowledgably but it did bring to mind that Chinese poetry can be a
>of visual art beyond the calligraphy. That is to say the poet might choose
>symbols that visually flow from one to the other or might have a piece of
>one symbol appearing in the next. This would give the poem a meaning
>different from the same one spoken (and of course dialects get in the way
>Then I was struck that this was not much different from what some
>of sign language do. A poet in sign language attempting to be artistic
>would not try to translate a spoken or written poem as close to word for
>word as possible but would try to do it in such a way as to do a dance of
>the hands. This would be easier of course if instead of translating
>something from a spoken language the poem was composed from the first in
>Anyway, I think I'll be thinking of this ideogrammic method post from time
>to time as it has brought up a method of communication that I hadn't
> Rick Parker
>RicK Seddon wrote:
>> This Zen posting struck a cord. or is it chord. (Oh well the list is
>> to my speling :>) by now). TSE's friend, cheerleader and editor, Ezra
>> Pound, was much into Chinese poetry. His "Cathay", published in 1915,
>> free translation of poems mostly by the ancient Chinese poet Li Po.
>> Pound's study of the Fenollosa notebooks which led to "Cathay" supplied
>> Pound with the summary thinking that he needed for the "ideogrammic
>> which ties a neat knot around his ideas of Imagism and Vorticism. Pound
>> a technical word for what the answer on the Zen list is trying to say.
>> called this relationship of words, logopoeia. He felt that logopoeia,
>> dance of intellect among words", is impossible to translate into another
>> language. Fenollosa believed that Chinese was a language properly
>> syntax. That the ideograms supplied the syntax.
>> My point with this longwinded exercise is that you may be closer to the
>> truth than you realize. In the ideogrammic method Images are set side by
>> side without syntax to create meaning in (not at) the boundary. That
>> meaning is totally unstated and might be incorrectly thought of as
>> between the lines". One is actually reading between the Images. TWL may
>> TSE's only Imagist poem and it for sure had a Vorticist as an editor.
>> people reject the meaning they receive from the boundry and continue to
>> attempt to extract meaning directly from the Images. The isolated Image
>> very easily seem nonsence since the intended meaning lies not in the
>> but in the boundry.