Huntly Carter



Poetry Versus Imagism


Literatur: Carter
Literatur: The Little Review


I entirely disagree with Mr. Carter's point of view – as much of it as I can fathom. But I hope his article will provoke discussion that will lead to clearer understanding of the Imagist's art in a country where even poets are blind to it. Mr. Carter states his position briefly as follows: "The Imagists claim that the subjects with which they deal find a completer and more adequate poetical expression in the Imagist form than in any other. Granting that this is so, the question still remains whether this form is essential to poetry or whether it tends to exclude poetry. So one has to consider what poetry really is and what it implies. My article is designed for this purpose." How horrible! – to treat miracles like this! – The Editor.

A FEW years ago I went to the Falkland Islands to sheep-farm for a bare subsistence, and while living on a lonely station twenty miles from everywhere, so to speak, tending my flock, what time the half-breeds came and helped themselves to my humble belongings, I experienced a new emotion. Perhaps it would be more correct to say I became aware of the nature of an old emotion. I felt the currents of transcendent energy which I felt in my childhood. But I now felt them more frequently, and I saw that I was elevated by them beyond the normal course of every-day life. At such moments I forgot the sheep, the pastures and the marauding half-breeds. I even forgot the strong colour and form of nature. I saw something ridding me of solid things and leaving nothing but a fluid universe. I saw distinct forms melting to formative motions. I had been caught in the midst of an intense current – a transforming current of livingness. Moreover, I was free to the current, with the result that I became a part of itself – fluid – unresistingly, and was actuated accordingly. For the time being, I moved as the fluid element most moved me. Later reflection showed me that I was moved by some ineffable thing which I believe to be poetry. It may be that the soul is made of poetry, and after the human soul has freed itself from the fetters of materialism it becomes re-converted to poetry; that is, a part of its own flow or motion. I do not think materialists will understand this. But it will be clear to the spiritual minded.

I am sure that the hypothesis, that poetry is simply soul-stuff, is a verifiable one. I am convinced that in my Falkland Island days, whenever I was raised by intensity out of my material self at a higher level than actuality, whenever such intensity annihiliated time and space, obliterated that personality which I call Huntly Carter, lifted me to the infinite and eternal and left me dumb, I was experiencing poetry. I know that the hypothesis in[28]volves two assumptions. First, that poetry cannot be written. It can only be expressed in motion or action. And it can only be expressed by the person who receives it direct from its source or fount. Hence a significant poet is not one who writes verse, but one who lives poetry, is poetry. The second assumption is that every human being who possesses the smallest soul vibration possesses a poetry-sense, and is, in fact, a potential poet. Given absolute freedom, he, too, would become poetry, such is the power of conversion residing in the element waiting to operate upon him. Which is not absurd when we come to think of it.

I find I am not alone in the attempt to rescue poetry from the lumber heap of verbalism and verbalists, to say nothing of verbiage, and to restore it to the infinite. I remember reading in an early number of the London Poetry Review that life has a rhythmic origin and poetry resides first of all in the rhythms of motion and sound. Of course "sound" is redundant, seeing that sound is the result of motion. I read further that poetry ultimately finds its way into language as the vocal expression of the fundamental motion or rhythm. Could anything be clearer? We feel the motion or rhythm and act it. And we attempt to express it in words in the last resort. Perhaps, some day nearer the millenium, it will be discovered that language (verbal of course) is the last resort of the poetically destitute.

The gist of what I read was this: First, poetry is the transmutation of some natural element (motion, sound or what not) into simple emotion (motion passing into e-motion). Then as the generic emotions pass beyond the senses they are handled by the intellect. One knows what the intellect does. Being peculiarly constituted to submit everything to scrutiny and analysis, it seizes upon the vague and indefinable characters of the human feelings and attempts the impossible task of analyzing their composition and stating their quantity and quality with precision. (Note what great emphasis the Imagists place upon the value of precision.) In other words, the intellect sets to work to regulate poetry by form and law. (Again, note how the Imagists emphasiz the importance of form and law.) I suppose only the poet who proceeds upon instinct and despises methodical verse-making, recognizes the stupidity of trying to express poetry in terms of intellectual states of mind. To him, the vision of poetry in terms of cerebralism can only have one effect, namely, to kill poetry.

After reading this explanation of poetry, I felt I ought to credit the writer with a desire to exalt poetry to the Infinite. First, however, it was necessary to determine what he meant by the process of "transmutation." If he meant the activity of the "thing" which I call poetry, and not the "thing" itself; if he was thinking of the change effected in the poet's soul after it has received the rhythmic element which effects the change; then poetry to him was clearly the operation and not the operating agent. Further, there was the individualizing meaning to be considered. Let us assume that the poet's soul receives rhythms or vibrations from the Infinite, which [29] it instantly converts into its own. Just as a magnetic needle receives its own currents and points aright. Where is one to look for poetry? Is it the vibrations themselves, or is it the act of conversion? I sought the answer in the writer's own words that "poetry resides first of all in the rhythms or motion," and I concluded that he was not making a precise use of the word "transmutation." So I was able to relate his explanation of poetry to one I had published somewhere in The New Freewoman. This was my explanation. There is a creative force underlying all phenomena. At an early period of the world's history when self-ownership was real – not a dream – man was provoked by this force into poetic action. The force operated by dissolving man into its own and thereby exalting him mystically. But as man became more and more intellectual, so gradually he lost the power of being dissolved, and provoked into mystical action. With the result that he invented words to take the place of action. And as this process of degeneration continued, so he evolved substitutes – paid actors, poets, painters – to do for him what he had lost the power to do for himself. Thus the verbal poet is simply a projection of man's lost capacity to poetize himself and for himself. That is, the power to obliterate himself physically. I need not go into this point further. If necessary, I could show that many human activities and most human institutions are symptomatic of the long drawn-out diseases of self-suppression and self-annihilation. Mind, I speak of the spiritual self and not that usually confused with a corporeal nature.

This rather long but necessary preface brings me to another and more recent attempt to recover the old emotion. I refer to my recent experience with The Egoist and the subject of Imagism in its relation to poetry. I suppose most intelligent persons are inquiring what Imagism and The Egoist have to do with each other. The Egoist is obviously, as its name implies, a journal devoted to egoism. And its sub-title informs us that it is an individualistic review. Of course, egoism is an entirely individualistic affair. It consists in putting on the armour of self-assertion and defending the special faith and interests of one's own. The power that one seeks to win is that of subjecting material conditions and exacting the utmost spiritual toll from everything. One pays no regard to the opinion of others, and refuses to play the part of a cypher, and at the same time refuses to play any part with others. To stand alone, and with a light heart to do the necessary bargaining with external influences for the possession of one's own soul – this, it seems to me, is the true ground of egoism. Opposed to this is the process of self-suppression, the process of making bundles of cyphers. When men obliterate not their corporeal natures but the spiritual part of themselves, by coming together and acting together, and so juggle the play tricks in order that they may gain the applause and reward of their fellows, they are cyphers, not egoists, and deserve to be treated as cyphers. Persons who take this view of egoism have naturally been watching for the appearance in the pages of The Egoist of numerous writers with aspirations beyond the group [30] or societal level and not seeing them appear have begun to ask what The Egoist "stands for." I believe this question of "standing for" is one which is hurled at every new and significant journal. One knows that it has been flung at THE LITTLE REVIEW. There are two ways of answering it. A journal may show that it does "stand for" something, or it may confound its critics by claiming the high distinction of not "standing for" anything. Simply it does not exist in time and space. It exists by the grace of God, so to speak. As to what The Egoist "stands for," it is not my concern. The thing for me to note is that for some issues it has been affected by a very strong habit of Imagism. Now Imagism is not egoism. I do not think the Imagists themselves are egoists. To me they appear to be socialists by instinct and individualists by profession, just as Mr. Bernard Shaw is an individualist by instinct and a socialist by profession. He is an autocrat with a democratic lampblack rubbed over his face to commercialize his appearance. The Imagists are the reverse with the added difference that they use the polish to beautify rather than commercialize their appearance. In saying this I do not wish to appear to be attacking the Imagists. On the contrary, I am anxious to pay them every possible compliment. The fact that they are sinning against themselves must be its own punishment.

The tendency of The Egoist towards Imagism flowered in the May issue. This issue was in fact "organized" (if I may use a trade term) from cover to cover to provide an honest and profitable discussion of the so-called "new" thing in poetry. As if poetry can be new. I had an idea that God made poetry when the world was very young indeed. Well, I turned to the May Egoist in order to rediscover my emotion. I found the journal comprised an admirable treatise on the theory and practice of Imagism with some uncritical praise and a strong note of criticism thrown in. I read the prose with a good deal of interest, particularly Mr. Harold Munro's history, origin and criticism of Imagism. It seems Mr. Munro objects to Imagism on the general ground that it is not inspired by the High Muses. It is rather the work of poets on the way to Parnassus who have stopped half-way to chase hares. The fact of the matter is that if an Imagist has a passionate instantaneous impression to start with he does not end with it. He simply destroys it before he has got very far with intellectual or technical theories. In Mr. Munro's very words, "poets of the Imagist and other kindred modern schools are no longer visited by the Muses: they are not at home to them."

How far this is true one may learn from the Imagists themselves. Here are some extracts from their contributions to the said "Special Imagist Number:"

    "Somewhere in the gleam of the year 1908, Mr. T. E. Hulme, excited by the propinquity, at a half-a-crown dance of the other sex . . . . proposed to a companion that they should found a Poets' Club. The thing was done, there and then. The Club began to dine. . . . . In November of the same year, Edward Storer, . . . . published the first book of "Imagist poems." This statement that the Imagist movement was started by Edward [31] Storer and T. E. Hulme, was subsequently refuted by Mr. Allen Upward who it seems received the Imagist message in 1900 from "a poet named Cranmer Byng," who had received it from Professor Giles, who had brought a tablet of China from the East with all sorts of wonderful little poems painted thereon. Later, Mr. Ezra Pound made for Mr. Allen Upward the Imagist garland to deck his forehead in the Court of Eternity. To continue the extracts. "Mr. Storer . . . was in favor then of a poetry . . . described . . 'as a form of expression, like the Japanese, in which an image is the resonant heart of an exquisite moment.' " "I (the writer) had been advoating . . . a poetry in vers libre, akin in spirit to the Japanese." . . . "A dissatisfaction with English poetry as it was then being written" led to a desire "to replace it by the Japanese tanka and haika." "He (Hulme) insisted on absolutely accurate presentation and no verbiage" . . . "used to spend hours each day in the search for the right phrase." . . . . "We (the Imagist group) were very much influenced by modern French symbolist poetry." "The group died a lingering death at the end of its second winter." "He (Pound) had made Imagism to mean pictures as Wyndham Lewis understands them; writing later for T. P.'s Weekly, "he made it pictures as William Morris understood them." So much for the history of Imagism and the expansion of Mr. Ezra Pound according to Mr. F. S. Flint. One next learns with regard to Mr. Pound that "he will sincerely work over a few lines of vers libre." He "tried to cultivate a sense of style, a feeling for words" . . . "he began to try to make poetry out of the realities of existence." . . . . "he is a 'bookish' poet." . . . "It is inevitable that the 'improved' and selected world which the Romantic poet creates should be composed, at least in part, of ideas, of declaration, of emotions derived from extensive reading." If the prizes of this world . . . were given to merit . . . that poem deserves the prize usually reserved for some not too revolutionary "honest craftsman." Thus Mr. Richard Aldington or Mr. Ezra Pound. Next as to "H. D." "The poetry of H. D. has been described as a kind of "accurate mystery" . . . "it has the precision of Goldsmith's work." "The things she (H. D.) has seen and the emotions she has felt have been transmuted in her mind into an unreality that reveals itself in images of an unsuspected virtue and in phrases that seem to owe nothing to common speech." . . . "A poet who will accept nothing that has not come to her direct." . . . "Her ceaseless scrutiny of the word and phrase." "A tendency to pare and cut too far." It is Mr. F. S. Flint who writes. From the next article one gathers that "every poet must seek anew for himself, out of the language medium at his disposal, rhythms which are adequate and forms which are expressive of his own unique personality." And again, "what will teach us most is our language and life." "He (Mr. Fletcher) is seen at his best where fancy, imagination, musical ingenuity, verbal magic, and a curious feeling for the landscape of Chinese painting are fused in an intriguing and quite beautiful lyric sequence." Mr. Ferris Greenslet is writing on the poetry of John Gould Fletcher.

I have quoted sufficient to indicate the history, aim, scope and methods of Imagism as set forth by the Imagists. Perhaps I should add an extract or two (also in inverted commas) from Mr. Harold Munro's contribution.

"Their (the Imagists') insistence on the necessity of an absolutely fresh start in poetry." They claim to have discovered "poetry as an Art." They devoted their energies solely to the cultivation of new form and the adoption [32] of a renovated language oblivious of the fact that Idea must primarily dictate both." "The forms they still felt they might use, the vocabulary that remained at their disposal, were extremely limited." They had thrown so much good material away "that they remained now almost unprovided with a language or a style." It looks as though they threw away the baby with the bath water. So they divided. "Some decided to tolerate the old subjects, but to discover a new manner of presenting or representing, them; others, not so satisfied, probed nervously the psychological recesses of the New World and dragged out all the strangest rags of fancy they could find, exhibiting them solely on account of their whimsical colour and shapes. Further, "they do not profess to sing." (Neither does modern commerce). They swear by "the best of intellect." "Their minds are obsessed by the Town." They acclaim the "passing event." They suspect the 'beauties of poetry.' " "The method of the Imagists is to model little detached patterns of words." One of their principles seems to suggest "that if one first design a poem, then the idea will be present by reason of the design." This recalls the principle of certain theatre reformers that if one builds a new theatre a new form of drama will enter crowned with daisies. It is equal to saying that given a donkey's tail the donkey will be present because of the tail.

After reading the Imagists' theories I read their verse. Without, however, recovering my emotion. It left me cold. I asked myself if poetry had ceased to run through me. Was I no longer its agent? Had intellect interposed to censor it – with form? In other words, was my conception of poetry wrong? Was the Imagists' conception wrong? Then I remembered that when I first experienced poetry and became aware of what I experienced, and when I began to express what I experienced, I proceeded on the principle of not mixing with my expressed experience any intellectual elements of thought, idea, reason or what not. I simply allowed some element to flow through me, and myself to be actuated by the flow. To me poetical expression was really an abstraction of the individualizing features of a spiritual experience received and transmitted in an instant of time. It expressed a creative movement abstracted from a creative movement, just as a subconscious drawing externalizes certain vibrations received through a magnetic medium. This creative movement appointed me its receiver that I might impart a momentary outwardness and sensational reality to its external content. Actually I was saturated with this precious element as a sponge can be saturated with rich perfume, and like the sponge was prepared to saturate in turn. In my belief, poetry is this spiritually saturating element. I would say it is a unifying element, bringing a like element in each of us into a unity of Soul or Spirit-consciousness. That is, the consciousness of Soul states which transcend this sordid material life in which we are so deeply immersed. I can imagine a true poet saturated by this element having glimpses of a supreme and superb Being, and thus entering consciously into that state of Being. But I cannot possibly imagine such a poet finding poetic expression in pots and pans and tup'ny tubes, and the confused and meaningless odds and ends of material life. I know there are certain poets who claim they have poetry in them, and because of this, they [33] can poetize any object. Just, as I suppose, the bee can pour forth honey on any object, or wine can be used to adulterate water. But, of course, the honey does not change the object into honey, nor the wine turn the water into wine, any more than the poetry element poured forth lavishly can transmute a motor-car or any dead thing into living poetry. Indeed, all that poets, obsessed by the theory of poetizing town and kitchen stuff, really do, is to waste their precious possession. Actually they precipitate their sweet scent on a concrete floor. If such poets ever hope to take the Golden Road they must leave shrieking machinery alone and cease pouring the perfumes of Araby over cancrous civilization. They must leave perishable things to perishable minds and fit out an expedition to the Inner Self. Thereby they may hope to return wet with the poetic spirit. In other words, they will return with rich experiences lit by the flame of poetry. It seems then that the reason I could not feel the Imagist verse was because I was trying it by a law or principle which told me that poetry makes itself felt through the senses, not through the intellect. Furthermore, it makes itself felt not only by passionately initiating us into some mystery or other of reality, but by making us an active part of that mystery. The poet is a signature of poetic reality.

I do not say this is the ultimate test of poetry. It may be that poetry is so indefinable as to elude all tests. Again it may be that this very indefinableness is the test of poetry. The secret in its motion cannot be analyzed. One cannot explain it any more than one can explain the odor of a flower. One is aware of it – that is all. Yet, I may ask, how does the Imagist poetry stand my test? The first thing one notices in the poetry is its air of cerebrality verging on cerebralitis. Accordingly one discovers an inordinate love of the intellectual qualities of style, and consequently, a feverish quest for figures. So there are figures of every kind. Condensing and visualizing figures, figures of similarity, contiguity and contrast, figures describing and analyzing perishable things. There is in fact a profusion of figures having one characteristic in common, namely, a straining after novelty, originality and freshness. If for the sake of argument one admits that poetry can be expressed in words, of course one admits that poetry can be expressed in images or figures of speech. But this is not to say that figures of speech are consequently poetry. Otherwise every bit of foolish verse that has ever been written could lay claim to the imperishable Garland. Every tup'ny box would be entitled to arrest each passer-by with a cry of "Behold the poetry in me."

Turn where we may in the wide-flung Garden of Verse and fruitful figures face us. Here are some gathered at random:

"He came like night." (Homer describes Apollo's descent from Olympus.)
"Soft as the fleeces of descending snows." (Ulysses' eloquence.)
"With lockes crull, as they were laid in press." (So Chaucer pictures his Squire.)
          [34] "Full many a glorious morning have I seen
          Flatter the mountain-top with sovereign eye,
          Kissing with golden face the meadows green."
"Her voice is but the shadow of a sound." (Young.)
"The bookful blockhead, ignorantly read,
With loads of learned lumber in his head." (Pope.)
"Some true, some light, but every one of them
Stamped with the image of the king." (Tennyson compares Arthur's Knights with coins.)
"Hair in heaps lay heavily
Over a pale brow spirit – pure –
Carved like the heart of the coal-black tree,
Crisped like a war-steed's enclosure." (Browning describes a lady's hair.)
"What says the body when they spring
Some monstrous torture-engine's whole
Strength on it? No more says the soul." (Browning describes the paralyzing effect of a wrong accusation on a highly sensitive mind.)
"Of the dying year, to which this closing night
Will be the dome of a vast sepulchre
Vaulted with all thy congregated might
Of Vapours." (Shelley seeks to raise a resemblance between the closing night of an eventful year, and the dome of a sepulchre.)
"Stood aloof, the scars remaining,
Like Cliffs which had been rent asunder;
A dreary sea now flows between,
But neither heat, nor frost, nor thunder,
Shall wholly do away, I ween
The marks of that which once hath been." (Coleridge describes a break in friendship.)
"There was silence deep as death." (Campbell.)
"There was silence as of death." (Macaulay.)
"Earth turned in her sleep with pain
Sultrily suspired for proof." (Describes a summer night's thunder.)
      "Long shall Comala look before she can behold Fingal in the midst of his host; bright as the coming forth of the morning, in the cloud of an early shower." (Ossian.)
"In short the soul in its body sunk like a blade sent home to its scabbard."
                    (Browning describes suddenly suspended animation.)

I could quote thousands of similar figures. I do not, however, accept them as poetry, simply because they do not give me poetry. I dare say the Imagists would refuse to accept them as poetry, but on a different ground. No doubt they would say that many of these figures have been manufactured in the wrong place. They have been made in the cerebrum instead of in the Imagist quarter, the cerebellum. They are in fact suffering from cerebritis whereas nowadays the proper complaint is cerebralitis. So the Imagists would complain that such figures do not conform to their conception of poetry as an Art. The ideas in them are not expressed as they would express them. There is an absence of clarity, precision, novelty, freshness, originality and so on. Change the form from cerebriform to cere[35]braform, clip the words, remove the clichés, stop the singing, bring the image up to the quick-lunch standard and most of the figures would pass the Imagist test. All this is very pretty. But when all is said I do not see why some of the figures may not pass the test as they stand. When Mr. Hulme wants to describe a nature experience he does it in this lengthy fashion:

A touch of cold in the autumn night
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge,
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to talk, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.

The similitude of a "red-faced farmer" does not raise the subject to heights. It is entirely lacking in dignity, is commonplace, and suggests ludicrous associations. For instance, much beer and a hot game of skittles.

When Browning does it he gets to work in a businesslike manner:

The sun looked over the water's brim
And straight there was a path of gold for him
And a world of souls for me.

I quote from memory, but I believe I quote correctly. The image is expressed with brevity, clearness, and dignity. Keats's way of expressing the experience is:

I who still saw the universal sun
Heave his broad shouder o'er the edge of the world

The similitude of "heaving the shoulder" is open to the same objection as that of a "red-faced farmer." It is undignified. It calls up a vision of the sun shooting coals down the front cellar.

Again, when the John Gould Fletcher wants to describe umbrellas in a new way he refers to them as:

Bending, recurved blossoms of the storm.

And a special movement of rain is exactly described as:

Uneven tinkling, the lazy rain
Dripping from the eaves.

The ingenuity of these comparisons takes away Miss Amy Lowell's breath. Writing in The New Republic she uses the term "absolutely original." And she tells us how well the first figures "makes us see those round, shining umbrella-tops," while the second is "a marvel of exact description." I dare say Miss Lowell is right. And yet the description, "The news was [36] a dagger to his heart," was just as original when it was written long, long ago, and is certainly as vivid and intense in its way as anything by Mr. Fletcher praised by Miss Amy Lowell.

Comparing the new with the old in this way, one may well inquire whether the new-fashioned Imagists differ so very much from the old-fashioned ones whom they seek to destroy. For my part, I have no hesitation in asserting that the subject of the old order of verse does not differ from that of the new order. If present-day Imagists are bringing a number of contemporary facts and incidents into figurative employment; if they cut their particular capers In a Tube, or in My Backgarden, or in a Bath, or at The Breakfast Table, or amid Slaps, or in Chicago, or in the Pine Trees' Tops, or After the Retreat, they are doing precisely what the every-day Imagist has done with contemporary facts ever since the world began. So the truth is that subject for subject they are no nearer the Parnassian height than the mereset babbler of driveling verse. And if they are really mounting the peaks, if as they claim they are making an absolutely fresh start at poetry, they are being pushed there by expression or technique, not poetry. In their view the mere curling and combing of words is sufficient to elevate them above such common poets as Shakespeare and the rest, and to entitle them to a seal among the really elect in the poetry business. But, of course, the bare fact that the Imagists are out for a revolution in form does not prove that they are out to give us a taste of real poetry. It only proves they are out for a revolution in form. And if one examines their form carefully. I believe it will be found to prove that there are poets among us suffering rather severely from the modern cant disease of culture. They "know" so much rather than feel anything, and because they know so much one meets them in every nook and corner, talking incessantly about the necessity of other poets knowing what they know, and doing as they do. Indeed they regard the production and advertisement of their particular kind of goods, which have become a sort of cult among a large number of persons who believe in hard study and discipline, rather than in spontaneity and livingness, as the beginning and end of earthly existence. But if one come to the bottom of the whole business it really amounts to no more than this. Tennyson and Kipling turned their attention to verse-making. They did not write poetry. They wrote doggerel, because what they wrote was in doggerel form. The Imagists have turned their attention to verse-making. Perhaps it should be versicle-making. They do write poetry. They write poetry because what they write has a poetry form. In short, the difference between Tennyson, Kipling and the Imagists is one of form. If the former had used present-day Imagist form they would be supreme poets. There is nothing to prove that Tennyson and Kipling could not have cultivated Imagist form. Therefore Tennyson and Kipling could have written Imagist verse. They were potentially supreme poets. How anyone can reasonably pretend that mere form transforms a subject into poetry passes my understanding. How anyone, moreover, can suggest in cold print that such form [37] is helping to make an absolutely new start in poetry is a point best left to the decision of mental experts. Still, on reflection, one finds it is all part of the modern "game" of confusing content with form. One must be grateful to the Imagists for one thing. For some time there has been a movement among poets of a certain school to shift the interest from poetry to themselves considered as deputies. The errors of the Imagists, who, apparently, are mistaken in their conception of poetry and the business of poetry, enables one to shift the interest from these poets to poetry itself. One can say to them, "We are not interested in you, but in poetry. To tell us that you are deputy receivers and recorders to describe your aims and methods, to take us to museums and to invite us to study the fossilized remains of ancient literatures, is not to help us to enjoy your verse." Poets do not get any nearer to poetry by setting up new rulers and standards. Poetry does not take us farther afield into speculating on form and technique, but farther from them. Poetry tends to shift the interest from the poet to itself, from the solid instrument of transmission to the world in solution. Indeed it tends to obliterate the poet in the physical sense. As I said it converts him into poetry. Now the reason why Imagism fails as poetry is precisely because it shifts the interest from the world in solution to a group of too, too solid poets. My conclusion is obvious. Before the Imagists can claim that they are making an absolutely new start in poetry, they must learn to obliterate their corporeal natures. The moment they do so obliterate themselves, that moment one can safely say "Now we are coming to poetry."

I intended to show that one cannot write free-verse unless one is a free poet. I must return to the subject





Erstdruck und Druckvorlage

The Little Review.
Bd. 2, 1915, Nr. 6, September, S. 27-37.

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Literatur: Carter

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Lyriktheorie » R. Brandmeyer