Ezra Pound: Japanese Poetry and Haikus

The modernist poet Ezra Pound uses the abstract idea of using solely a few words to illustrate the image that he discusses within his poetry. Through this technique, the reader is able to take Pound’s words and envision these words through their own mind. Along with his use of imagism, Pound had been greatly interested in Japanese poetry and haikus and these poems have greatly influenced Pound’s own poetry. Haikus are a form of Japanese poetry that solely consist of three lines; therefore, conveying more in fewer words, similar to Pound’s imagist ideals. Pound is mostly known for his founding of imagism and how his lack of words create an beautiful visual effect for the reader. He uses a different form of imagery that doesn’t use description and an abundance of words to convey his point, but rather uses specific words and lack of detail to allow the author to create their own, detailed image in their own mind. And he obtained this imagist technique from these Japanese haikus, as the haikus are focused on imagery and painting a picture in the mind of the reader in just a few words. Illustrator Julian Peters works to turn poems into graphic art, and he does this with Pound’s infamous “In a Station of the Metro.” He conveys this modernist technique through the simplicity of his artwork. He draws the people that Pound describes and uses Pound’s words to create an image similar to what one would imagine themselves when reading his poetry. One can really see Pound’s words come to life through the expressions on these people’s faces. They look almost lifeless and none of them seem to be actually enjoying their lives. Furthermore, the poem, “A Fan-Piece for her Imperial Lord” takes a great amount of inspiration from Japanese poetry. Just as typical haikus are made up of seventeen syllables, Pound’s work contains seventeen words. Also, the poem is only three lines long, just like a traditional haiku. However, Pound’s work does not completely resemble these haikus, as haikus typically emphasize the significance and value of nature, and this use of nature is not as profound in Pound’s poetry. As a whole, Pound derives his imagist view from his immense knowledge of Japanese poetry and the techniques that make it so effective.


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