Imagism is a movement established in the early twentieth century comprising of the American and English poets. Imagism emerged as a reactionary to measure against the flabby use of abstract language and “careless thinking” fostered by the Georgian romanticism. The tenet of the imagist poets was to pursue the use of the common language of speech, employing the exact word always and not the merely decorative words (Jackson 19). The most identifiable features of the imagist poems are the use of free verses and devotion to the clarity of expression while using precise visual images.
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Imagist poets use simple, clear, and precise statements in their poems. They avoid the use of excess verbiage to represent the subject. The poems exhibit the use of “non-decorative” words relying on the exact wordage that is used in daily communication. The imagism poem aimed to expunge the wordy abstractions and replace them with exactness present in detail, apt metaphors and the rich economy the language.
For instance, the poem by Pound “In a Station of the Metro”, he starts with simple lines depicting a glimpse of beautiful faces in a dark subway and later elevates that perception into a crisp clear vision whilst finding an intensified equivalent image. The use of metaphor in this poem is very provoking, eliciting sharp intuitive discovery of the reader in order to get the essence of life (Jackson 28). Pound defines the image as “that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” Pound clearly identified the tenets of imagist poetry as involving the direct treatment of the “thing” whether it is subjective or objective, the absolute no use of a word that does not contribute directly to the presentation. Thirdly, regarding the rhythm, it is composed in a sequence with musical phrases and the sequence of the metronome. Working with Pound in establishing the imagist poetry were other poets such as William Carlos Williams, Richard Aldington, James Joyce, John Gould Fletcher and Amy Lowell among others. They published their works collectively in 1914 before the movement embedded in imagism died later. However, the ideas embedded therein the imagism poetry continue to profoundly influence the free verse poets throughout the twentieth century.
In the general view, imagism relied extensively on the philosophical assumptions thus it involved the cultural values, historical topics, and developments along with poetic theories. The critical approaches stress on the respective headings of cultural background, literary history, and poetics (Jackson 71). It attracted the Asian poetics to largely accept the ideas of imagist poetry. The idea of transforming Chinese poetry by Pound comes from his desire to capture the essence of the words that are used in Chinese poems. Chinese poems are dense in the utilization of the language and in expressing the cultural and historical histories. In the poem, “ArsPoetica,” it is clear that Pound is engulfed with the capacity of the writer, Ernest Fenollosa’s articulate potential in capturing the beauty of language that connects poetry and maintaining that is evident in the West. Pound used the diligence of Chinese poetry and the translations of Chinese poems in publishing Cathay. The Chinese poets clearly link the thematic aspects of paintings, art, love, war, politics, and natural beauty with their poems. For instance, the lines in the poem, “Exile’s Letter” showcase the theme of war and love. This Chinese work and “the Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: An ArsPoetica” have similarities in that they create visual attention to the reader and thus the appreciation for the period it was written and the crucial element of war and love.
Another poet who recognizes and explores the and individually participates in the establishment of the imagist poetry is William Carlos William (Walton 51). He clearly sheds the light in the magnificent poetry realm, introducing the reader to the newly founded art and engages the reader in painting a mental picture vividly from the point of view of the poet. Williams is directly attracted to the forms of life and thus establishes the journey into imagism. Williams spent his quest for poetry in trying to “mirror the speech of the American people.” Williams focuses not much on the English speech, instead, he focuses on the language and environment created as the place and means of life for the American people.
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For instance, in his work “The Red Wheelbarrow” he significantly explores unusual literary figures of life. It is a poem that exhibits features such as the absence of punctuation and it relies on an erratic and unusual lineation that generally dissolves the custom boundary between a thing or an idea and another (Walton 31). Williams used a devoted and famous maxim. In most of his poems, he points out the relations between things and the words that we normally use to talk about those things. Williams is magically endowed in being observant, reproducing what he sees in reality with freshness, clarity, and economy of language. His writings are strongly related to the Modernism movement of poetry, the Imagism Poetry. In the poem, “Plain American which Cats and Dogs Can Read,” he uses the phrase of Marianne Moore: “No ideas but in things.” In The Red Wheelbarrow, “A Person Eating Plums,” with all freshness, he enlarges the understanding of the reader that a poem's subject can be from anything and thus fostering the imagism poetry.
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The East Asian poetry was largely imagism in that it relied on the undeviating utilization of the language to intensely describe and explore the real-life events and chronological as well as literary backgrounds. The study of East poetry by Pound shows the facets of imagism in the poetry. Pound tapped into the understanding from the poems from “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry: An ArsPoetica” and the works of Fenollosa to show the radiance of the Chinese mores and art in the poetry (Huang 45). Imagism poetry, therefore, has elements that are widely explored in the world of poetry, both by the fosterers of the imagism poetry, and also the traditional poets who understood the essence of the aspect of exploring the economy of the word to bring forth their subject matter of discussion. The Chinese wrote instinctively of the art of war, love, history, etc. They shared Williams’s point that the subject matter of the poem did not have to be rigid to the old Georgian romanticism ideas that people wrote about in the past.
The poets William Carlos Williams, Amy Lowell, and Ezra Pound continually brought out the aspects of imagism poetry along with other poets. Imagism changed the way poetry field had been established from the beginning and created a broad and free approach to poetry.