July 11, 2011

IMAGISM (Imagisme)

IMAGISM (Imagisme)

The Imagist movement of American and British poetry began in 1912, with a statement by Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Aldington, R. S. Flint, and T. E. Hulme. The first manifesto contained six simple assertions, but the overall might be summed up by describing it as a call for clarity of expression and the use of precise visual images. Along with that, the poets argued for a new "cadence" that incorporated new ideas.

These statements were in reaction to Victorian and lingering Romantic styles of American and British poetry still heavily in use the second decade of the 20th century.

The manifesto statements were:

1. To use the language of common speech, but employ the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.

2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.

3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.

4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly, and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. it is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.

5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.

6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

Between 1914 and 1917 the group produced four Imagist anthologies, including early selections in the magazines Poetry (1912) and The Egotist (from 1914): Des Imagistes (1914), Some Imagists (1915, 1916, 1917).

Pound, one of the major figures of early Imagism, felt betrayed by Lowell's notions of the movement (expressed most notably in her essay "Imagism") and her inclusion of numerous other figures, suggesting even Frost and Sandburg as Imagists. Other poets, including John Gould Fletcher, Harriet Monroe, Conrad Aiken, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, D. H. Lawrence, and T. S. Eliot were, in fact, influenced by aspects of the group.

By 1914, Pound had broken with what he described as Lowell's "Amygism," turning to the British Futurists in order to create a new movement, Vorticism. Pound succinctly summarizes his view of Imagism in his book, Gaudier-Brezska (1916), explaining his dissatisfaction with the way the movement ultimately expressed itself.

—Douglas Messerli

For a lecture on Imagism by Langdon Hammer at Yale University, click below:

No comments: