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The Imagist movement began in 1908, when a poet T.E.

Hulme, who formed a
group of poets, including Ezra Pound, as the “School of Images.” Pound soon assumed
control of the group, preferring the term Imagist. (13)
In his Literary Essay “A Retrospect," Pound presented concisely the requirements
for imagistic poetry as it follows:

1) Direct treatment of the 'thing' whether subjective or objective 2) To use
absolutely no word which does not contribute to the presentation 3) As regarding
rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a
metronome. (14)

In his essay “a few donts” , Pound further gives restrictions to the movements :
Use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something.

Don’t use such an expression as “dim lands of peace.” It dulls the image. It mixes
an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer’s not realizing that the
natural object is always the adequate symbol.

In simple words, imagistic poetry communicates the idea of the poet through
objective, precise, and concentrate images. Thus, the poet trough his writing seeks to create an
image, with the use of concrete words avoiding extra comments for the purpose of brevity and
A reading of Pound's quintessential Imagist poem, "In a Station of the Metro," could be seen
as a poetical enactment of Pound's image theory proffered in "A Retrospect". In the poem
the reader is presented with:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough. (Poems 53.1−2)
The poem's timeless instant, functions through an association one image onto an−other. The
poem certainly follows Pound's stylistic injunctions in "A Retrospect"—particularly the use of
"no superfluous word" and "direct treatment of the thing" (3), together with the lack of any
personal pronoun, verbs, comparatives or conjunctions. Moreover, the static imagery of the
final line usurps the spectral mass motion of the first. Thus, the lines exist in opposition to
each other.

The poems make no argumentative statements, tell no story, make no links to
the feelings of the poet. They simply, clearly, and directly present images-and it
is up to us to intuit for ourselves what they might "mean" or "say."
Pound himself explained the attraction of this form borrowed from the
Japanese tradition:
. . . it seemed to offer dry, hard concrete imagery and, without losing
any of the essential force of symbolist poetry, avoided direct
lyricism. It was the basic unit of the imagiste poem, juxtaposing two
images, often in contrast, and containing them within a brief
epigrammatic form, omitting all moral and intellectual comment and
allowing images to form a "visual chord" in the mind--a third image
that unites them--so that a "thing outward and objective transforms
itself or darts into a thing inward and subjective."
Note that the Imaagists
,considered the romantic poetry such as Wordsworth writing had become,
rhythmically inert, predictable in its imagery and emotions. It is for that main reason that
,they were in favor of the use of free verse , concrete imagery and avoided any use of the
personal pronoun “I” which mainly characterizes he romantic poetry.

The example above , clearly illustrates what imagists tents are like
when committed to practice. Yet , this same example also illustrates
a very important problem with this new style , a problem linked to
the content of the poem. This characteristic was a common point of
criticism of the new style ("They've got the bridle and the bit all
right/ But where's the bloody horse?"). J.G Fletcher point out that :
[It] was the fault of imagism never to let its devotees draw clear
conclusions about life and to force the poet to state too much and
to deduce rather too little-to lead its disciples too often into a barren
aestheticism which was, and is, empty of content. . . . Poetry merely
descriptive of nature as such, however vivid, no longer seems to me
enough; there has to be added to it the human judgement, the
human evaluation. (J. G. Fletcher)

In this context , Eliot's poem, Pound proclaimed, was "the
justification of our 'movement,' of our modern experiment." T. S.
Eliot's early poetry provided exactly what Pound saw as the essential
ingredients of the modern style. Eliot resolved (for reasons I will
mention later) the problem of Imagism I mentioned above

Eliot use of the past :
Eliot in his famous poem The waste land shows the use of imagist‟s techniques .Yet, despite of using
concrete images from everyday life, what is particular to Eliot , is his association of those images with
other images from the literary tradition. In his essay , Eliot explains that the best way of expressing
emotions is through the use of objective correlatives. In other words, a set of objects and situations which
shall be the formula of that specific emotion. Thus, in his poem , Eliot seems to correlate imagist
technique of representation with his own notion of objective correlative which seems mainly evokes
allusions from the literary tradition. In other words, while Eliot tends to evokes concrete images drown
from life, he associates and mixes those same images with other images from the literary tradition. That
is, many of the images clearly point beyond themselves and create pressure on us to make
connections with something that might help to create an overarching meaning. By doing
so , Eliot resorts to the problem of thematic need encountered in other imagist poems.

To illustrate this fact lets consider this passage from the burial of the dead.
Take, for example, the very opening, the famous lines about April being the cruellest
month. This imagery functions to summon up a particular (and startling) image of spring
as a fearful time, something hostile to life because it rouses us from our winter torpor.
Eliot is doing here something very common in modernist writing generally, and especially
in his early poems: reversing the traditional associations with a conventional poetic image.
Just as the opening lines of "Prufrock" provide, in that image of a city anaesthetized, a
startlingly new and severe image of early evening (often celebrated in poetry as a time of
quiet and calm reflection), so the opening of The Waste Land wrenches apart our
conventional poetic associations with an invocation of spring. All that is clear enough
from a reading of the words without any knowledge of Chaucer's lines. If we do
recognize Chaucer's original under that text (and many of us will), then the passage
becomes all the richer for us, because we see an important point Eliot is making in
drawing our attention to The Canterbury Tales, the extent to which the healthy union of
erotic and religious sensibilities which Chaucer's great work celebrates has been lost in the
modern age.

The Coordinating Consciousness of the Speaker(s)
While the imagists reacted against the subjectivity of the romantics by rejecting any
speaker in their poetry, Eliot proceeds in a different strategy , although the aim is all the
same ie : the dissociation of personality or as Eliot likes to tell it as the death of the

To illustrate the tents of imagist poetry, let‟s us consider Pound‟s famous poem In a Station of the Metro
: The apparition of these faces in the crowd: /Petals, on a wet, black bough
The first thing that the reader may notice here , is the short length of the poem . In his essay "Vorticism,"
Pound tells to the Reader that the poem first involved thirty-line "and destroyed it because it was what we
call work 'of sec-ond intensity"' ("Vorticism," p. 467).
In an article entitled Ezra Pound, Yone Noguchi, and Imagism Yoshinobu Hakutani tells to his
reader that later on pound reduced the length of the poem to its half, and still a year later he
wrote the final version, which is presented just above .
Those bibliographical considerations help us to understand how brevity is taken into
consideration from the part of imagists poets. Although, not all imagist poem contains as few
lines as Pound‟s in the station of the metro, since brevity cannot be linked ultimately to the length
of the poem only.

The brevity of the poem can be noticed from its content as well . Indeed, pound decides to include no
reference regarding the setting but the title itself. Without the title , the reader would never know the place
where Such an image which associates “faces in the crowd “ with “Petals, on a wet, black bough” takes
place . There is no reference to time where the action take place . what is important to mention is that
Such an image must be generated "in an instant of time," as Pound cautions in his essay "A Few Don'ts."43 .
In other words , brevity , preciseness and conciseness are associated together to create a poetry which according to
pound should have the directness and clarity of good prose . Indeed he urged his fellow poets "to bring
poetry up to the level of prose."
"In a poem of this sort," he explained, "one is trying to record the precise instant when a thing
outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective" ("Vorticism," p.
467). Practically , Pound juxtaposes an objective image with a subjective one in his poem to describe the
brief instant where objectivity transforms itself into subjectivity . The image of the faces in the crowd
is based in immediate experience at
a metro station in Paris; it was "a thing outward and objective." Not
only did Pound actually see the "thing," but it generated such a sensation that he could not shake
it out of his mind. This image, he emphasizes, "transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and
subjective," that is, the image of the "Petals, on a wet, black bough." .
Something which may confuse the reader, is Pound‟s insistence on the presentation of a concrete image in
an imagist poem on the one hand, and yet , his reference on the other hand to a transformation of the
image to something inward and subjective.
In relation to this fact , Pound clearly states that the image is not a static, rational idea and defines it as : " a radiant
node or cluster; it is what I can, and must perforce, call a VORTEX,fr om which, and through which, and into which, ideas are
constantly rushing. In decency one can only call it a VORTEX. And from this necessity came the name 'vorticism'"
("Vorticism," pp. 469-70).

While the poet is concrete and juxtaposes an objective image to a subjective one , The reader of „In a
Station of the Metro‟ may generate a whole series of readings of this work, concerned with the city, the
juxtaposition of nature and society, the underground Metro as a modern hell, the transitory and the
permanent – thematically, there is a great deal here, even if materially there is not.
Eliot and imagism
Eliot adopts many of the imagist techniques into his poem the waste land . Like pound , Eliot juxtaposes
objective images with subjective ones .

The book was at once traditional and experimental, conforming
neither to the programmatic experimentalism of the Imagists nor to the
traditional notion of poetry as formal and high-minded.

As many critics have remarked, Stevens‟ early poetry is clearly marked
by the influence of Imagism, yet at the same time the poems depart from
Imagist practice in their far greater tendency to abstraction and philosophical
argument. Joseph Riddel argues that while Stevens‟ early poetry has affinities with Imagism, it is marked
by an opposite strategy: “relating himself to
his world by ingesting its flow of appearances and transforming sensation
into the rhythms and forms of his own sensibility.”
While Pound‟s notion
of the image was largely governed by the analogy of painting or sculpture
(in other words, forms involving a fixed visual representation in a moment
of time), Stevens allows his images to flow into the motions and forms of
continuing and changing experience.
, for example, Stevens is far more
focused on the whirling movement of the fallen leaves and on the use of repetition as a formal device than
on the objects themselves as images
„438081 PDFEzra Pound, Yone Noguchi, and Imagism

As Pound explained in his
essay, the image
is not a static, rational idea:
"It is a radiant node or cluster; it is what I can, and must perforce,
a VORTEX, from which, and
through which, and into which, ideas are
constantly rushing. In decency
one can only
call it a VORTEX. And from
this necessity
came the name 'vorticism'" ("Vorticism," pp. 469-70). A
year later Pound defined the form of an image by stating that the im-
age "may be a sketch, a vignette, a criticism, an epigram or anything
else you like. It may be impressionism, it may even be very good prose."
An image, he argued, does not constitute simply a picture of some-
thing. As a vortex, the image must be "endowed with energy."5
"The painter,"
Pound wrote, "should use his colour because he sees it or feels it. I
don't much care whether he is representative or non-representative.
... It is the same in writing poems, the author must use his image
. . . not because he thinks he can use it to back up some creed or some
system of ethics or economics" ("Vorticism," p. 464).
To demonstrate his poetic theory, Pound thought of an
image not
as a decorative emblem or
symbol but as a seed capable
ing and
developing into another
As an illustration he pre-
sented what he called "a hokku-like sentence" he had written:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals, on a wet, black bough.

Imagism is further contrasted to symbolism: "The symbolist's symbols
have a fixed value, like numbers in arithmetic, like 1, 2, and 7. The
imagiste's images have a variable significance, like the signs a, b, and
x in algebra" ("Vorticism," p. 463)
Pound's insistence that
an image in poetry must be active rather than passive like a vortex suggests that a
poem is not a description of something,
in his insis-
tence that the image of the faces in the crowd in his metro poem was
not simply a description of his sensation at the station but an active
entity capable of dynamic development. According to his experience,
this particular image instantly transformed itself into another image,
the image of the petals on a wet, black bough. To Pound the success
of this poem resulted from his instantaneous perception of the relat-
edness between the two entirely different objects.