Imagism and Free Verse

Poems by Ezra Pound, Williams Carlos Williams, H.D. and Amy Lowell

 

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

Of all the major literary figures in the twentieth century, Ezra Pound has been one of the most controversial; he has also been one of modern poetry’s most important contributors. In an introduction to the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot declared that Pound “is more responsible for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry than is any other individual.” Read more from the Poetry Foundation HP

In a Station of the Metro

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

 

Resources and Further Information about Ezra Pound

Read commentary on “In a Station of the Metro” from the Modern Poetry HP.

Williams Carlos Williams (1883-1963)

William Carlos Williams was born the first of two sons of an English father and a Puerto Rican mother of French, Dutch, Spanish, and Jewish ancestry, and he grew up in Rutherford, New Jersey. He was a medical doctor, poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. With Ezra Pound and H.D., Williams was a leading poet of the Imagist movement and often wrote of American subjects and themes. Read more from the Poetry Foundation HP

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
upon

a red wheel
barrow

glazed with rain
water

beside the white
chickens.

The Great Figure

Among the rain
and lights
I saw the figure 5
in gold
on a red
firetruck
moving
tense
unheeded
to gong clangs
siren howls
and wheels rumbling
through the dark city.

Resources and Further Information about William Carlos Williams

Williams life with commentary on his poems (Modern Ameircan Poetry HP)

 

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)

H.D.’s life and work recapitulate the central themes of literary modernism: the emergence from Victorian norms and certainties, the entry into an age characterized by rapid technological change and the violence of two great wars, and the development of literary modes which reflected the disintegration of traditional symbolic systems and the mythmaking quest for new meanings. H.D.’s oeuvre spans five decades of the 20th century, 1911-1961, and incorporates work in a variety of genres. Read more from the Poetry Foundation HP

Oread

Whirl up, sea—
whirl your pointed pines,
splash your great pines
on our rocks,
hurl your green over us,
cover us with your pools of fir.

Heat

O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air–
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat–
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.

Resources and Further Information about H.D.

H.D.’s life along with commentary on her poems (Modern American Poetry HP)

Amy Lowell (1874-1925)

An oft-quoted remark attributed to poet Amy Lowell applies to both her determined personality and her sense of humor: “God made me a business woman,” Lowell is reported to have quipped, “and I made myself a poet.” During a career that spanned just over a dozen years, she wrote and published over 650 poems, yet scholars cite Lowell’s tireless efforts to awaken American readers to contemporary trends in poetry as her more influential contribution to literary history. Read more from the Poetry Foundation HP …

A London Thoroughfare, 2 A.M.

They have watered the street,
It shines in the glare of lamps,
Cold, white lamps,
And lies
Like a slow-moving river,
Barred with silver and black.
Cabs go down it,
One,
And then another,
Between them I hear the shuffling of feet.
Tramps doze on the window-ledges,
Night-walkers pass along the sidewalks.
The city is squalid and sinister,
With the silver-barred street in the midst,
Slow-moving,
A river leading nowhere.

Opposite my window,
The moon cuts,
Clear and round,
Through the plum-coloured night.
She cannot light the city: It is too bright.
It has white lamps,
And glitters coldly.

I stand in the window and watch the moon.
She is thin and lustreless,
But I love her.
I know the moon,
And this is an alien city.

The Fisherman’s Wife

When I am alone,
The wind in the pine-trees
Is like the shuffling of waves
Upon the wooden sides of a boat.

Resources and Further Information about Amy Lowell

A web-site devoted to exploring influences on Amy Lowell’s imagist poetry