Marcia Karp wrote:
> But the point is that the idea of
> arranging poems to create some sort of whole was hardly new in the world
> in or around 1912, so your argument needed be pinned to that date.
I would more or less agree with your whole post, but a few observations
to complicate things.
Collections of poems are often published with the poems in date order
(order of original publication or even of composition), which is what I
had in mind with the phrase "separately written poems." I don't, for
example, see any particular connection between Prufrock and Mr.
Apollinax beyond the mere fact of having the same author. Perhaps a
clearcut instance of "separately written poems" _not_ brought into a
unified whole would be the odes of Pindar. On the other hand, a possible
case of clearly "separately written poems unified in a book" would be
the Iliad, if we go on the assumption that (a) the Iliad poet
consciously pulled the poem into a unity and (b) the poem contains many
parts, some of some length, that had been composed by earlier poets.
Also, at first glance at any rate the poems in Lustra are pretty
miscellaneous, and I think looking for an internal 'plot' would have a
bit more going for it if one knew Pound had given explicit thought to
"book" vs "collection" prior to collecting them.
For our purposes here, however, in thinking about TWL what we need
primarily is just recognition that the pulling together of apparent
fragments or "separate poems" into a single work was 'in the air' as it
were in the decade before that poem appeared.
Your example of the Metamorphoses is particularly apt. That poem had a
peculiar history in England. It would seem that for poets from
Shakespeare to Pope one could almost say that whatever poet or poem they
"officially" put at the top of their list, in practice they gave their
love to Ovid. (That is extravagant -- but not in light of what was to
happen.) I think it was Spence who referred to Pope's liking for Ovid as
"curious," and only a couple of decades later someone (Warton?
Warburton?) referred to it as "bad taste." (Thirty-five years ago I
could have been precise on this, but it's a bit vague in my memory now.)
And when Johnson wrote his famous discussion of simile in his Life of
Pope his example of a bad simile was from Ovid, and based on a
misumderstanding of the point of the simile (seeing it as merely in
reference to Daphne's speed rather than in the emotional quality of her
flight). And Pound was probably one of the influences in bringing Ovid
back to at least minimal respect in the 20th c. (calling Golding's Ovid
the most "beautiful" book in English, though I've never been quite clear
as to what he meant exactly by that. It is a fine poem.)