Tag Archives: Ezra Pound

“Don’t imagine that the art of poetry is any simpler than the art of music, or that you can please the expert before you have spent at least as much effort on the art of verse as an average piano teacher spends on the art of music.”

Ezra Pound’s “A Retrospect” attempts to expound the new school of poetry dubbed Imagism. This “brief recapitulation and retrospect” advises the aspiring writer to avoid constriction from the old-world styles of literature and poetry and embrace the modernistic approach. The manifesto constitutes the actualization of modernism as we know it, explicitly defining how and why writers should create their art. Writers in this modern style will, per Pound’s advice, focus their efforts on representing an Image (or the essence of a subject), economically choosing their words, and “composing in the sequence of the musical phrase, not sequence of a metronome.”

Aside from the practical advice for composition, Pound’s more  significant lesson to writers deals with the attitude towards their works. All writing, and poetry especially, should be treated as an art form, and writers should expect to earn in fame and glory proportionate to the amount of effort given to their art. In this we are reminded of James’s artist character, sacrificing his love of portrait painting in exchange for the creation of cheap illustrations. There is no glory for the artist in this scene because there is no dedication to the true art of his work. Pound, the Imagists, and myself feel that “it is better to present one Image in a lifetime than to produce voluminous works.” To capture the essence of an image and to adequately and efficiently liberate it from its ineffable state into one of comprehensibility is the highest of accomplishments for any artist, including the writer. This success, however, will come only when one dedicates himself to his writing with passion and devotion.