06 June 2005

Advent of vorticism

"The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough."
On this day in 1913 Ezra Pound published "In a Station of the Metro."

In his account of the poem's genesis, Pound describes seeing the fleeting faces in a Paris subway one morning and thinking that he might need to "found a new school of painting" in order to capture the experience.

He first wrote a 30-line poem, then a 15-line poem and then, a year-and-a-half after the event, the handful of words that would become the poster-poem of "imagism."

"The image is not an idea. It is a radiant node or cluster; it is what I can, and must perforce, call a VORTEX...."

Pound coined the name of "vorticism," though it was Wydham Lewis who made it famous. Above, a 1920 Lewis sketch of Pound.
(Via Today in Literature)

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