Carrol Cox wrote:
>Consider a hypothetical case. Supposedly, Pound reduced _In a Station in
>the Metro_ from an original draft of sixteen lines to the present two
>lines. Suppose that it had not been Pound himself but Eliot (or Yeats)
>that had done most of the cutting? _Then_ we would have had a better
>parallel to what Pound did for TWL but which (I assume) Hayward did NOT
>do for 4Q. (Or which Donne's friends did not do for his mss.)
It was 30 lines and a VERy complex process, it would seem. See the attached.
Pound on Image-oriented Poetry
The image has been defined as " that which presents an intellectual
and emotional complex in an instant of time."(86n)
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 splotches 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 realized 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
Any mind that is worth calling a mind must have needs beyond the existing
categories of language, just as a painter must have pigments or shades more numerous
than the existing names of the colours.
Perhaps this is enough to explain the words in my [article] "Vortex ":
"Every concept, every emotion, presents itself to the vivid consciousness
in some primary form. It belongs to the art of this form."
That is to say, my experience in Paris should have gone into paint. If
instead of colour I had perceived sound or planes in relation, I should have
expressed it in music or in sculpture. Colour was, in that instance, the
"primary pigment"; I mean that it was the first adequate equation that came into
...All poetic language is the language of exploration. Since the beginning of bad
writing, writers have used images as ornaments. The point of Imagisme is that it
does not use images as ornaments. The image is itself the speech. The image is the
word beyond formulated language.
One is tired of ornamentations, they are all a trick, and any sharp person
can learn them.
The Japanese have had the sense of exploration. They have understood the
beauty of this sort of knowing. A Chinaman said long ago that if a man can't say
what he has to say in twelve lines he had better keep quiet. The Japanese have
evolved the still shorter form of the hokku.
"The fallen blossom flies back to its branch:
That is the substance of a very well-known hokku. Victor Plarr tells me that once,
when he was walking over snow with a Japanese naval officer, they came to a place
where a cat had crossed the path, and the officer said, "Stop, I am making a poem."
Which poem was, roughly, as follows:
"The footsteps of the cat upon the snow:
(are like) plum-blossoms."
The words " are like " would not occur in the original, but I add them for clarity.
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.
from Pound, Ezra. "Vorticism." Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir. London: Marvell, 1960: 86-89.
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