Imagery is one characteristic for which Ezra Pound's poetry is known. Through poems about trees, human beings, dogs, separation, the ancient gods, and society, Pound utilizes imagery to successfully convey his messages. Pound's poems are precise and clear, speaking volume with very little words. Pound also deviated from most traditional forms of rhyme and meter to further enhance the meaning of the poem. This paper will examine imagery, tone, mood, and rhyme, and meter as they are utilized in "A Girl," "The Tree," "The Garden," "The Garret," "Taking Leave of a Friend," "Meditatio," "In the Old Age of the Soul," "Ezra on the Strike," and "The Return." With these poems, we will gain insight into Pound's unique ability to craft meaningful poetry with few words.
In "A Girl," the poet explores the beauty and exhilaration of the through a large, towering tree that is something as simple as a child to him. This comparison allows him to set a serious tone and mood of reverence. Here the poet is using one form of life to describe, or enhance, another. The tree does not grow up and out but rather it "ascended my arms" (2) and "has grown in my breast-/Downward" (A Girl 3-4). The tree is also a part of him as "The branches grow out of me, like arms" (5). Here we see how the poet has allowed his experience of the tree to merge with his own existence. He also realizes that his experience is unique to him and is "folly to the world" (10). With this last stanza, the poet is able to appreciate his experience and relate it to something as innocent as the life of a little girl. Here we see how his use of imagery blends the earthly with the human on an exquisite level.
In "The Tree," we are struck the poet's ability to create vivid images with his poetry as well as set a mystical mood and tone. According to Hugh Witmeyer, "describes the kind of metaphoric experience'" (Witmeyer qtd. In Curley 22) that is a "very vivid and undeniable adventure'" (22) in which a man turns into a tree. As the poet ponders this experience, he knows "the truth of things unseen before" (The Tree 2). He recounts the journey of "Daphne and the laurel bough" (3). His knowledge of this "god-feasting couple"(4) opens the poet's eyes to a new kind of reality because he has seen them through the metaphorical eyes of a tree. And it is this experience that forces him to realize "many a new thing understood/That was rank folly to my head before" (11-2). Here we see the same type of epiphany that we discover in "A Girl" in that the poet becomes aware of something that he would have never know had he not taken the time to experience something outside of himself.
In "The Garden," we see how the poet uses imagery and tone in a unique way. The woman he sees is like a "skein of loose silk blown against a wall" (The Garden 1) and she is "dying piece-meal/of a sort of emotional anemia" (3-4). We also read, "And round about there is a rabble/Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor." (5-6). Here, the poet paints an image of poverty, yet immediately following these lines he states that these people "shall inherit the earth" (7). Here we see how the poet is looking beyond the surface of things to see what is underneath the dirt and grime. The poet believes the girl's "boredom is exquisite and excessive" (9). In her, he also sees that she desires someone to speak to her and "is almost afraid that I/will commit that indiscretion" (11-2). Here the poet is setting the tone of urgency and desire not only through the woman but also the poet because of his interest in her. Another poem that expresses unique imagery is "The Return," in which we are bombarded with images of the gods as the poet sees them returning with "slow feet" (2) and "With fear, as half-awakened;/As if the snow should hesitate/And murmur in the wind" (6-8). With these images, the poet paints unusual, striking portraits in these gods that are inviolable.
In his poem, "The Garret," we see an example of Pound's Imagist technique, which he "defined images as "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time'" (Pound qtd. In Spiller 1337). The first line of this poem introduces us to an interesting tone of pity for the rich, which is opposite of what we would expect. The poet also explains why we should pity the rich, because "have butlers and no friends,/And we have friends and no butlers" (The Garret 3-4). The last stanza of the poem expresses what the poet finds far more important in life than wealth and butlers, which is the simple dawn that "enters with little feet" (6). The mood of the poem is one of reverence to the crisp "clear coolness,/the hour of waking together" (10-1). Here we see how the poet uses the simple beautiful images to convey his thoughts. In "Taking Leave of a Friend," we see how the poet uses a specific moment in tie to set the mood and tone of his poem. The poet presents us with a sense of sadness as two friends must say goodbye to one another. The images in this poem are serene, such as "a floating wide cloud,/Sunset like the parting of old acquaintances" (5-6). In addition, in the poem, "Meditatio," the poet utilizes very specific thoughts to express his true feelings about the human race. The first stanza echoes what most of us think which is that man is superior to the dog. However, with a strange twist, the poet must change his mind when he considers the "curious habits of man" (Meditatio 4). Suddenly, he is not so sure of hi previous assumption. This poem is an example of his precise Imagist style.
The poem, "In the Old Age of the Soul" sets a dramatic and melancholy mood from its opening lines. With this poem, we have the old man remembering his battles. We read, "Grown old with many a jousting, many a foray, / Grown old with namy a hither-coming and hence-going" (In the Old Age of the Soul 7-8). These battles are a part of the man's past, but a very vivid image of his dreams and thus present state of mind. Here we see how the past never really leaves us and times can actually haunt us as this man's memories do.
In "Ezra on the Strike," we actually see strays from this traditional avoidance of rhyme and meter. With this poem, the poet is making a social commentary on the government. The poet also uses diction in the poem to emphasize the voice of the speaker. Here we see how the speaker is concerned about the winter months as well as what the government has in store for the people. We can see the mood of concern and confusion when the speaker says:
Fer didn't I turn Republican
One o' the fust?
I 'lowed as how he'd beat the rest,
But old Si Perkins, he hemmed and guessed,
And sed as how it wuzn't best
To meddle with the trust. (Ezra on the Strike 19-24).
Here the poet is making a statement about society with images that indicate distrust.
Imagery is a feature of Ezra Pound's poetry that makes them speak to us. Whether he is speaking about dogs, trees, girls, women, humankind in general, gods from old, or society, Pound expresses his thought clearly with intense images, which set the mood and tone for his poems. The images create and sustain the mood as they change from…