The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H.D. and the Imagists

Ange Mlinko writes:

Carr painstakingly tracks the intellectual strands that converged in Imagism. There was Pound’s early engagement with Pater, for whom aesthetic pleasure gives ‘the highest quality to your moments as they pass, and simply for those moments’ sake’. He learned from the troubadours how much one could do with imagery alone. Ford Madox Ford’s love of the Impressionists and his ‘exhortation to eliminate’ made a mark. He drew from F.S. Flint’s engagement with haiku (‘Use no superfluous word’) and vers libre (Mallarmé: ‘Each time there is effort at style there is versification’). He took Hulme’s study of Henri Bergson and primitive intuition and developed a theory of the anti-didactic ‘luminous detail’. And he was inspired by another Tour Eiffel member, Joseph Campbell, whose Celtic revivalism also energetically subverted the Victorian status quo. Thus Imagism was not merely a new style, superficial and ornamental. It was meant to convey a new worldview, justified by the changes its practitioners felt they saw all around them.

(LRB 25 March 2010)