Friday, January 16, 2009

Poetry is Easy (to think about)

Pound himself does not mention the underworld when he talks about how he came to write this poem:

"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."

Pound wrote a 30 line poem about the sighting and destroyed it. Six months later he wrote a 15 line poem, also discarded. A year and a half after his experience in the metro, Pound came up with the two lines we read today. These lines are influenced by his reading and translation of Japanese hokku. What Pound took away from the Japanese form was what he called "super-position." The poem is essentially a one-image poem, that image being "faces in the crowd." But Pound overlays this image with another, seemingly separate image "Petals on a wet, black bough" thus merging the two images to give you a sense of the feeling, not just the look, of the crowded train station. The poem is built directly from sensuous experience. It isn't easy to understand, but it is easy to think about.

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