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Imagism was a brief, complex yet influential poetic movement of the early 1900s, a time of reaction against late nineteenth-century poetry which Ezra Pound, one of the key imagist poets, described as ‘a doughy mess of third-hand Keats, Wordsworth … half-melted, lumpy’. In contrast, imagist poetry, although riddled with conflicting definitions, was broadly characterized by Imagism was a brief, complex yet influential poetic movement of the early 1900s, a time of reaction against late nineteenth-century poetry which Ezra Pound, one of the key imagist poets, described as ‘a doughy mess of third-hand Keats, Wordsworth … half-melted, lumpy’. In contrast, imagist poetry, although riddled with conflicting definitions, was broadly characterized by brevity, precision, purity of texture and concentration of meaning: as Pound stated, it should ‘use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something … it does not use images as ornaments. The image itself is the speech’. It was this freshness and directness of approach which means that, as Peter Jones says in his invaluable Introduction, ‘imagistic ideas still lie at the centre of our poetic practice’. This anthology traces the complicated evolution of imagism through its poetry from "the pre-imagists" and the "period of the anthologies (1914-17)" to "the imagists after imagism".


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Imagism was a brief, complex yet influential poetic movement of the early 1900s, a time of reaction against late nineteenth-century poetry which Ezra Pound, one of the key imagist poets, described as ‘a doughy mess of third-hand Keats, Wordsworth … half-melted, lumpy’. In contrast, imagist poetry, although riddled with conflicting definitions, was broadly characterized by Imagism was a brief, complex yet influential poetic movement of the early 1900s, a time of reaction against late nineteenth-century poetry which Ezra Pound, one of the key imagist poets, described as ‘a doughy mess of third-hand Keats, Wordsworth … half-melted, lumpy’. In contrast, imagist poetry, although riddled with conflicting definitions, was broadly characterized by brevity, precision, purity of texture and concentration of meaning: as Pound stated, it should ‘use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something … it does not use images as ornaments. The image itself is the speech’. It was this freshness and directness of approach which means that, as Peter Jones says in his invaluable Introduction, ‘imagistic ideas still lie at the centre of our poetic practice’. This anthology traces the complicated evolution of imagism through its poetry from "the pre-imagists" and the "period of the anthologies (1914-17)" to "the imagists after imagism".

30 review for Imagist Poetry

  1. 5 out of 5

    Sean Barrs

    The Imagists were a group of modernist poets that, well, liked images. It’s sort of a given, but the way they explored it was unique and intelligent, at least, as far as the narrative tradition of western poetry went. Great imagists like Pound and Williams drew upon the traditions of eastern poetry. The looked at the haiku form and adapted it into the English language. Pound was very familiar with the orient; having travelled to China and Japan, studying art and literature for numerous years. Ev The Imagists were a group of modernist poets that, well, liked images. It’s sort of a given, but the way they explored it was unique and intelligent, at least, as far as the narrative tradition of western poetry went. Great imagists like Pound and Williams drew upon the traditions of eastern poetry. The looked at the haiku form and adapted it into the English language. Pound was very familiar with the orient; having travelled to China and Japan, studying art and literature for numerous years. Even Edward Said would say in Orientalismthat Pound, amongst other modernists, was “not entirely ignorant of the East” Within the poetry a sense of cultural appropriation can be seen in regards to the east, one free of any sense of cultural misrepresentation or degradation. This form of modernism was a break from western narrative tradition, an assertion of something new, and this is exactly what Pound’s poetry became: a hybrid of eastern and western forms of representation. His poetry is a product of racial encounter, of west meeting east; it is poetry written in English, but is, nevertheless, adapted from traditional eastern forms as well as depicting the east within its content. The strongest two examples are “Fan-piece, for her Imperial Lord” and “Ts’ai Chi’h.” Pound has experimented with the haiku form here: Fan-piece, for her Imperial Lord “O fan of white silk, clear as frost on the grass-blade, You also are laid aside.” The first two lines follow the form of the traditional 5-7-5 syllabic pattern. The final line breaks this with seven syllables, no doubt, the result of experimentation on Pound’s behalf. Although a seemingly simple style, such deviation were distinctive and individual. Ts’ai Chi’h is very much the same: Ts’ai Chi’h. “The petals fall in the fountain, the orange-coloured rose-leaves, Their ochre clings to the stone” Both poems depict thematic references to the east, as each new line creates an authentic new image as per the imagist tradition. Pound’s appropriation of eastern technique becomes a new form of representation as traditional eastern techniques are written in English, creating a piece of art that is, in itself, a product of racial and cultural encounter. Not all the imagist focus on the orient, but the poems I enjoyed the most in here depicted it so they are the ones I have discuss. There are all manner of images in here, city life to people to other variation of the natural world, but, again, it was Pound’s work that I enjoyed the most. I think I need to read a full volume of his work.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kwan-Ann

    scary thought of the week: rupi kaur and lang leav are actually carrying on a barbarous and twisted version of the imagist poets and the principles they stood for but which is 100% more simplified and doesn't aim to deliver an image in concise language but a feeling in minimalist style which i kinda get but it doesn't make their poetry any Good because where's the literary value in it?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Domhnall

    According to the introduction, which is in itself a good enough reason to pick up this slim volume, few Imagist poets were in fact Imagists and they wrote few poems seriously conforming to the Imagist manifesto, but what they did share in common was being refreshingly not-Victorian and the impact of their work was primarily that not many subsequent poets were Victorian either. This was a good thing and some great poets are represented in this collection but their poems, or to be more cautious, t According to the introduction, which is in itself a good enough reason to pick up this slim volume, few Imagist poets were in fact Imagists and they wrote few poems seriously conforming to the Imagist manifesto, but what they did share in common was being refreshingly not-Victorian and the impact of their work was primarily that not many subsequent poets were Victorian either. This was a good thing and some great poets are represented in this collection but their poems, or to be more cautious, their selected material in this volume, are mostly thin stuff to my mind. It is in later work and other poets that the rewards of Imagism are to be found, in poets who not only discarded redundancy but also had plenty to say. Still, even here there are pearls to reward the patient reader, of which this [this poem, this reader] is one. Intimates D H Lawrence Don't you care for my love? she said bitterly. I handed her the mirror, and said: Please address these questions to the proper person! Please make all requests to head-quarters! In all matters of emotional importance please approach the supreme authority direct! - So I handed her the mirror. And she would have broken it over my head, but she caught sight of her own reflection and that held her spellbound for two seconds while I fled.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Zanna

    A brief selection of works and a broadly sympathetic introduction to the Imagist movement, including some statements of purpose by Ezra Pound, F. S Flint and Amy Lowell. Hilda Doolittle (H.D) and Richard Aldingdon are key members of the group, and DH Lawrence contributed to some of the anthologies they produced. I owe to this book my discovery of the magnificent HD, and richly enjoyed declaiming her poetry into the night. The hostility between Pound and Lowell comes across as the latter derailing A brief selection of works and a broadly sympathetic introduction to the Imagist movement, including some statements of purpose by Ezra Pound, F. S Flint and Amy Lowell. Hilda Doolittle (H.D) and Richard Aldingdon are key members of the group, and DH Lawrence contributed to some of the anthologies they produced. I owe to this book my discovery of the magnificent HD, and richly enjoyed declaiming her poetry into the night. The hostility between Pound and Lowell comes across as the latter derailing the movement, but I am sympathetic to her principles even if I agree with Jones that her poems are insipid... Mixed bag overall Evening The light passes from ridge to ridge, from flower to flower - the hypaticas, wide-spread under the light grow faint - the petals reach inward, the blue tips bend toward the bluer heart and the flowers are lost The cornel-buds are still white, but shadows dart from the cornel-roots - black creeps from root to root, each leaf cuts another leaf on the grass, shadow seeks shadow, then both leaf and leaf-shadow are lost.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Rachel Louise Atkin

    A good collection and I think introduction to Imagisme. Founded by Ezra Pound in the early 20th century, it is a movement where the image takes priority, and the poem holds a 'concentration of meaning', as a revolt against the "doughy" poetry of the late 19th century which was apparently to flowerly for Pound. It was really nice to finally read poems from H.D. whom I've been meaning to read for a while. Surprisingly loved Ford Maddox Ford's poems as well but this was probably just because they we A good collection and I think introduction to Imagisme. Founded by Ezra Pound in the early 20th century, it is a movement where the image takes priority, and the poem holds a 'concentration of meaning', as a revolt against the "doughy" poetry of the late 19th century which was apparently to flowerly for Pound. It was really nice to finally read poems from H.D. whom I've been meaning to read for a while. Surprisingly loved Ford Maddox Ford's poems as well but this was probably just because they were First World War poems which is one of my interest areas. William Carlos Williams, however, takes centre stage. His language and influence is unparalleled.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

    I've been intending to delve into this stuff for a while now, and finally got to reading this. I first became interested because I was impressed with how much better the Richard Aldington translation of Voltaire's Candide was than the Dover edition I read before. It turned out that Aldington was a writer himself and in researching some of his history, I found that as well as being a member of the Imagists, he was married to an Imagist poet, H.D., and so decided to read some. The introduction to I've been intending to delve into this stuff for a while now, and finally got to reading this. I first became interested because I was impressed with how much better the Richard Aldington translation of Voltaire's Candide was than the Dover edition I read before. It turned out that Aldington was a writer himself and in researching some of his history, I found that as well as being a member of the Imagists, he was married to an Imagist poet, H.D., and so decided to read some. The introduction to this book is informative and gives an objective overview of the movement; its history, beginnings and influence. I have to say that this is really what I feel I should be reading right now. It's hitting a lot of the right notes for me and is giving me a better understanding of how The Imagists were the gateway to modern poetry, breaking away from the florid prose and overt romanticism of the Victorian era. I like that Imagisim is a reductive form that has stripped away and simplified poetry, getting to the purity of the image. I can understand the flaws and criticisms leveled at the movement, however. The moon is mentioned frequently and there are colors mentioned in almost every single poem in this collection, but that doesn't detract from my pleasure in reading them. The simplified form keeps the poems from feeling dated as they almost read like song lyrics, in some cases (for better or worse. At least it's a frame of reference.)Overall, The Imagists seem to have taken the necessary step of getting rid of a lot of the verbal ornamentation that makes much Romantic poetry seem overly florid and pretentious, or at least difficult, to modern readers (at least this one.)

  7. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Even the "Imagists" themselves - whoever they were...& they could never decide!- had an image problem with their hide-bound contemporaries in Edwardian Britain; a Britain suffocating in sentimental gush & poetastic flubber! "Imagists" proclaimed a new honesty in poetry, honing down the verbiage to its ascetic bare bones. Ezra Pound,a later 'force terrible' described the current poetry as "a doughty mess of third-hand Keats,Wordsworth...& half-melted,lumpy". His antidote to this mellifluous tilth Even the "Imagists" themselves - whoever they were...& they could never decide!- had an image problem with their hide-bound contemporaries in Edwardian Britain; a Britain suffocating in sentimental gush & poetastic flubber! "Imagists" proclaimed a new honesty in poetry, honing down the verbiage to its ascetic bare bones. Ezra Pound,a later 'force terrible' described the current poetry as "a doughty mess of third-hand Keats,Wordsworth...& half-melted,lumpy". His antidote to this mellifluous tilth was a formula which should "..use no superfluous word, no adjective, which does not reveal something...it does not use images as ornaments.The image itself is the speech". This helped,eventually, to set poetry on a course which it has followed ever since.(T.S.Eliot was an admirer). Famous names like James Joyce, D.H.Lawrence,Richard Aldington,Hilda Doolittle(H.D.) & Amy Lowell all wrote under the influence of this philosophy, with varying degrees of unanimity,& without acknowledging their membership of a formal group. But my favourite "imagist" remains the inimitable William Carlos Williams,to whom I was introduced at Dulwich College by one, J.P.R.Bird,defined 'as nervous as a high-jumper' in my first attempt at poetic satire (he had told us he had been a university athlete!),my first English master in the autumn of 1967...'The Red Wheel-barrow'...which was an admonition to me to be concise. Alas,I never took the hint! A brief but tantalising introduction to an apparently passing poetic fad that became one of the main stanchions of modern poetry.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Amy Hawthorne

    'The main problem is that the poems the imagists published as a group cannot honestly be called to stand among the great achievements of literature'. The editor's words not mine. This collection gets 2 stars because it is so repetitive and confused and dull. I don't think there is a poem that does not include references to birds, sunsets, the moon or the over use adjectives, particularly colour. In the introduction too it was defined that Pound's ideas of Imagist poetry cut down the verbiage until 'The main problem is that the poems the imagists published as a group cannot honestly be called to stand among the great achievements of literature'. The editor's words not mine. This collection gets 2 stars because it is so repetitive and confused and dull. I don't think there is a poem that does not include references to birds, sunsets, the moon or the over use adjectives, particularly colour. In the introduction too it was defined that Pound's ideas of Imagist poetry cut down the verbiage until the bare image is left yet I had to read about 150 brutally mediocre rustly thin pages of stretched metaphors, lowly laboured similies without the thought or ease of talent of rhythm or rhyme (despite it not being a device used in this kind of poetry, althought it still was in some cases, but badly). Overall I am really not looking forward to studying this as my rant suggests because I have no idea what intelligent things there are to say about a movement of poetry that didn't last 50 years and was self acclaimed to be unoriginal.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Cristhian

    Los imaginistas, el movimiento poético que no sabía que existía y no sabía que me gustaría tanto. Pensar que había un sub grupo para todos aquellos que describen poéticamente un instante, una escena, una imagen... Más aún, teniendo gigantes como Joyce, Pound, WCW me reafirman que me gusta la poesía y me gusta más no saber mucho de ella... ...porque de esa forma aun me logra sorprender. "If you are using a symmetrical form, don’t put in what you want to say and then fill up the remaining vacuums w Los imaginistas, el movimiento poético que no sabía que existía y no sabía que me gustaría tanto. Pensar que había un sub grupo para todos aquellos que describen poéticamente un instante, una escena, una imagen... Más aún, teniendo gigantes como Joyce, Pound, WCW me reafirman que me gusta la poesía y me gusta más no saber mucho de ella... ...porque de esa forma aun me logra sorprender. "If you are using a symmetrical form, don’t put in what you want to say and then fill up the remaining vacuums with slush. Don’t mess up the perception of one sense by trying to define it in terms of another. This is usually only the result of being too lazy to find the exact word. To this clause there are possibly exceptions. The first three simple prescriptions will throw out nine-tenths of all the bad poetry now accepted as standard and classic; and will prevent you from many a crime of production. ‘… Mais d’abord il faut être un poète ’, as MM. Duhamel and Vildrac have said at the end of their little book, ‘ Notes sur la Technique Poétique’. Ezra Pound"

  10. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa

    To the passionate lover, whose sighs came back to him on every breeze, all the world is like a murmuring sea-shell. Allen Upward

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ade Bailey

    Superb introduction by Peter Jones. The anthology itself is thin - largely, one realises, because the idea of Imagism is so vague. Many of the included poets were not involved with Imagisme groups, nor did they wish to be associated with imagism.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nivedita

    Has the very best of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. Just the right mix. Best collection of poetry I've ever read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Mark

    A well chosen selection with additional notes to front and back.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Tayla

    I loveeeeeee 💞💞💞💞 their minds 💓💓💓💓

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jordan

    H.D. u give me life

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Nice language heavy poems. Would recommend.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hayden

    I usually worry about going to poetry. I especially worry that I won't GET it. Picking up a collection of modernist poetry ... well, I worried even more. But actually I really liked some of the poetry. Some, I'm not going to pretend I liked it all, or even understood them all. But poets like Amy Lowell, Marianne Moore and Ezra Pound really jumped out of me, returning to them again when finding pieces I liked. Surprising, considering that this was not really in my comfort zone.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jude Nonesuch

    Realest stuff. As they say, all true poetry is imagist poetry

  19. 5 out of 5

    Sam

  20. 4 out of 5

    Katie Haines

  21. 4 out of 5

    Matthew

  22. 5 out of 5

    Eloisa

  23. 5 out of 5

    Will Johnson

  24. 5 out of 5

    Otherorganism

  25. 5 out of 5

    Jack Caulfield

  26. 4 out of 5

    Brett

  27. 5 out of 5

    Aa'Ishah

  28. 5 out of 5

    Anna Maria

  29. 4 out of 5

    Leya Moore

  30. 4 out of 5

    Emily

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