This class, Modern & Contemporary American Poetry, is the hardest class I’ve taken in a very long time. Since Calculus?
Each section has readings, video, audio so there is a lot of work in that alone. And then there are the POETS. Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman were the easy starters—I thought it was lovely that I was actually reading and enjoying discussions about these major poets that I’ve only experienced in a few lines and a million references in my life. Emily takes a little work, Walt a lot of stamina but both are enjoyable, comprehensible and even meaningful.
Well, that didn’t last long. Very quickly we’ve reached Ezra Pound. Finally I thought. That oh so familiar name about whose life and work I have known nothing. And have been somewhat ashamed of that. Which of course will be true of almost every poet in this whole long intense and HARD class.
It seems there was a brief but very important movement called Imagism—”aiming at clarity of expression through the use of precise visual images.” (from a class handout). So first H.D. with two poems that did absolutely capture images of a sea rose and a sea poppy—but, were the images symbolic or were the images just exactly what the imagist said they were doing, offering up clear and precise ‘pictures’ of things?
You see the problem. This is may not be rocket science but it is making me think. After the hideous political deluge of this week, it is doubly triply important to regain the ability to think so this class and this subject are life and mind savers.
The big thing is I have now read and considered my first Ezra Pound poem, “In a Station of the Metro.” Here it is: The apparition of these faces in the crowd: Petals on a wet, black bough.
After a somewhat lengthy audio and video discussion of Imagists and H.D. and Pound and “In a Station of the Metro,” and work and coffee with one of my best buddies and a walk and a haircut and a bowl of cheesy grits, I am suddenly quite exhausted. More Pound and William Carlos Williams in my life this weekend. I’ll share!
From today’s admiring-the-autumn walk: