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So, I’ve finally had the privilege to read some of the Cantos. I’ve always had the feeling that if I had a chance to just sit down with them and their sources, and slowly go through each, an incredible world of poetic brilliance would open up. As it turns out, they are sheer, thick, inescapable, pain. And lots of it. They’re a jumble of names and references that you have no hope of understanding (at least not entirely), as my prof points out, unless your name is Ezra Pound. Comparing them to the sources gives you a strong appreciation for Pound’s genius, but it is essentially an intellectual exercise. Read More

I like bandwagons. They’re flat, roomy, and very comfy for jumping on. A friend of mine recently started a blog on Japanese Literature, and the book nerd in me couldn’t resist joining in.

I was at chapters today, looking for the Collected Prose of Robert Frost. I asked someone to point me to the poetry section, and as he was walking me to the right place, I commented on how the poetry sections always seemed tucked away. He laughed and said “people don’t really like poetry.” That’s just pathetic. And, since it gives me an excuse to gush about how much I love it, poetry is what I’m going to write about.

First off, Ezra Pound. A friend of mine recently told me that if I don’t like Yeats (which I don’t. Yugh. Yeats. See, they even sound alike…), I’ll hate Pound, since he’s even more self-referential. I couldn’t disagree more.  I would group him in with Frost. He’s like Frost in that he describes things in their totality, packaged into a few lines of poetry. But while Frost writes moments, Pound writes images. There’s no movement to his poetry, but he manages to pack intense colour and texture and emotion into a few lines, even a single word. The obvious example is “In a Station of the Metro.” The poem is only two lines long:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd,
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Two lines. That’s all it takes. He does the same thing in “Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord”:

O fan of white silk,
clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.

I love that without ever mentioning anything other than the fan itself, he manages to communicate the feeling of “boredom [that] is exquisite and excessive” (“The Garden”).

I have to admit, I haven’t read any of his long pieces yet, mostly because I read poetry when I’m obnoxiously exhausted, and couldn’t possibly survive something as long as, say, The Cantos. So, I may have to revisit him. Still, so far I like what I’ve read.