John Gould Fletcher’s Blue Symphony is a strange little poem, in that no one seems to have read it. It was on the syllabus for my Modern Poetry class, but we never discussed it. When I was researching it for my exam, ScholarsPortal turned up not a single article. Google came up with a handful, but nowhere near as many as usual. Which is strange, seeing as the poem was part of a larger collection of “colour symphonies,” in the Symphonies section of his Selected Poems, and since Fletcher was one of the original six imagistes, and intimately (in Amy Lowell’s case, very intimately) connected with the other five.
The poem deals with beauty, imagination, and the subconscious, and the poet plays with ideas of reason and desire, with known, unknown, and that which is just out of reach. These are interesting on an intellectual level, but the most spectacular part of his poetry is the imagiste bit: the fantastically vivid dreamscapes he paints from his words. I don’t know if I’ve ever read a clearer image than the clouds rolling up to reveal the sunken landscape, or the dream-palace, replete with travellers and outspread silks that the narrator dreams up for himself. Eliot’s “yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes,” or Pound’s “Station of the Metro” come close, but don’t quite hit the mark. Read More