Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project.
Barking Sycamores is dedicated to neurodivergent literature and its craft. I’m so honored to be a part of this project.
This Wednesday, I will be reading my poetry at the estate where my artist residency studio is located. My studio is literally in the carriage house, however I will be reading in the ballroom. This will be quite a change. It’s a good thing I don’t own a ball gown or I might have been inclined to wear one.
The exhibit evening coordinators call what I’m doing “an ongoing reading of poetry throughout the night.” I better bring some water with me. I’ve never done this before, and I assume people will be strolling in and out perhaps even mid-poem, most likely preferring to meander through visual arts, rather than the invisible sounds I’ll be speaking. This is the biggest reading I’ve ever done in my career. I read at the University where I got my MFA once I finished my thesis which was pretty big, but this reading (in the ballroom) will be my first as a professional, all on my own. It’s exciting and unnerving at once. No longer can things like tardiness, messy hair or even a slight buzz to calm the nerves be excused and acceptable as they are for the rookie graduate student. Now, it’s all me. I’m not a duckling in a graduate program; I’m my own brand, my own entity. Any level of nuisance or pleasantness I emit can either eradicate or encourage future invitations to read. How I read, what I read, how “likeable” I am, determines my fate. There’s pressure building, but I hope the poems will speak for me, and I hope the energy of what once was an up and running ballroom will enliven me. Which poems should I read? Well, I already know. That’s one easy element to this endeavor. I’m going to read the ones I know people like, ones I’ve read before. Wednesday evening won’t be a time to experiment or push “social issues” buttons. I’m pulling out my shiniest gems to show how much I’m really worth. (Well, maybe there will be room for one or two experimental pieces…)
The frailty of “pale wet leaves,” and the disconnect that loiter about Pound’s poem, Alba, echoes the response to one of Pound’s most popular Imagist works: In a Station of the Metro.
Continued from Part IV.
Like Alba, In a Station of the Metro uses the delicate details of nature to evoke an instant of time while at a “station of the metro.” The poem takes place in a trice of thought reflected by the speaker. The poem functions as a photograph. Superficially, it depicts the visual aspects of a moment in time. Subjectively, it reflects a mental impression, a mental impression which offers more than just a representation. Through the use of analogy, the poem emanates sensation and epiphany.
The title, “In a Station of the Metro,” functions comparably to the titles of The Garden, and The Tea Shop. The title of In a Station of the Metro depicts the location of the poem. Nonetheless, like Alba’s title, In a Station of the Metro’s title functions also as an intricate ingredient of the poem, divulging orientation to the poem’s meaning. Without the particular title, “In a Station of the Metro,” the poem would not mirror the instant of reflective thought as specifically. The title adjusts the mind of the reader quickly, so that it may envision a setting, a setting which is not repeated ever in the poem.
Smaller and shorter than Alba, In a Station of the Metro invisibly inflicts yet an even more universal premise onto the reader. The poem rises above the stage of civility, relationship and loneliness. It calmly confronts the concept of humankind within the design of two precious lines that equal one analogy: “The apparition of these foreign faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough” (Pound 109). Once the reader is situated by the title, he/she must envision the first line, “The apparition of these foreign faces in the crowd.” The word chosen to depict the multitude of strangers at the station evokes a surreal phantom-like frame of mind. Immediately, the reader, as a mortal human, senses the separation that accompanies the image of “apparition.” Though an illustration such as “faces of the crowd” would typically embody a feeling of inclusion or camaraderie, because of the diction choice, “apparition,” a juxtaposing sentiment emerges in the reader. The pack of people at the station becomes ghost-like and incoherent. This reflects the remoteness experienced within the midst of strangers, especially in the mechanically adorned setting of “a station of the metro.”
The image evolves from that of a ghostly situation to an image of natural beauty. Following the semi-colon, the second line reads, “Petals on a wet, black bough” (Pound 109). The “apparition of these faces in the crowd” becomes “petals on a wet, black bough.” The connotations that bloom from the image of “petals” are varied: delicacy, beauty, fragility, preciousness. These “petals” become even more exceptional when the precision of the image continues. They are “on a wet, black bough.” Like in Alba, the term “wet” is used, “wet” being associated with the freshness of dew or rain. The “black bough” is not only decorated with “petals,” but also it is “wet.” The image is analogous to the “apparition of these faces in the crowd.” The “petals” are analogous to “faces” and the “wet, black bough” is analogous to “crowd.” In the midst of a surreal “apparition,” an instant of civilization becomes as lovely and unsullied as an instant of nature. An incalculable sensation arises within the reader as he/she strives to connect the few images in the poem, a recognition of sorts, an awareness of humanity. The exclusion inspired by the word, “apparition,” in the first line, allows the reader to see an ordinary instant in an unusual way. The reader, separated from the everyday manner of viewing an everyday situation, may perceive this instant as an outsider; a role-reversal. The reader must envision a moment of the ordinary as mystical and singular. Therefore, the reader, in a sense, with the help of the poem, is liberated from the constraints of correctness and expectation. The poem functions as the contemporary device: the pause button. In the fast, efficient, unfamiliar setting of “a station of the metro,” the reader while reading the poem may reflect on the exceptionality and rarity of humanity.
As Pound imposes his readers to view “a station of the metro” with a mystical perspective in his poem, In a Station of the Metro, Pound imposes his readers to view “women before a shop” with a scientific perspective with his poem, Women Before a Shop. With this imposition, an ordinary picture of females crowding around a shop window becomes a moment of insight. Once again, as in In the Station of the Metro, analogy allows for distinctive perspective. This perspective unveils the predictability of human nature, evoking an ideal that is unspoken but prevalent within the short poem. Unlike all the previously examined poems, the title of Women Before a Shop, does not paint a setting (as it does for The Garden, The Tea Shop, The Bath Tub, or In a Station of the Metro) nor does it convey a category of poem (as it does for Alba); it illustrates the subject of the poem. In both Alba and In a Station of the Metro, the title is necessary for the achievement of the Imagist poem; this is also the case for Women Before a Shop. Without the title’s initial situating of the reader, the full context of the poem would not be possible because the subject is not directly identified in the poem. The economy and precision of the poem’s image is indicated by its dependence on the title.
The poem, Women Before a Shop, like In a Station of the Metro, begins with an image of humanity which then evolves through the use of comparison into an image of nature at the cellular level. Pound, employing his policy of Imagism, deconstructs the presentation of women into a pattern of human nature at the microscopic level. The poem begins innocently enough: “The gew-gaws of false amber and false/ turquoise attract them” (Pound 114). After the subject of the poem is disclosed by the title, the reader imagines a most candid depiction of the subject’s position. The subject, “women before a shop,” take on a passive role in the action that occurs within the poem. The action is not instigated by the women; it is instigated by the “gew-gaws of false amber and false turquoise,” for it is these “false” colors that attract the women. This image is similar to that of a magnet attracting bits of metal. The female subjects become victim to the “gew-gaws.” The “women” subject is revealed as a tool in the hand of a shop. The image, though ruthless to envision, is not expressed as ruthless. The tone is frank and forthright. The severity of the image comes from the terse idiom and specific words depicted and repeated. The choice of objects conveyed to “attract” the women account for the severity. It is not expensive jewels or intellectual articles that “attract,” it is cheap baubles, “gew-gaws,” made of artificial material, “false amber and false turquoise.”
While the reader attempts to accept or dispute this controversial image of the consumer, Pound already proves his point in the following line. A most declarative and nonjudgmental quote boxes the reader into a complacent frame of mind: “Like to like nature” (Pound 114). It is with the use of this seemingly truthful declaration that Pound’s analogy can explain. The quote functions as a diplomatic introduction to the comparison. The colon following the quote explains as silently and as bluntly as a systematic symbol of truth. The tone is so tactful, that a reader with all his/her knowledge of debate must carry on, regardless of subjective impositions. The analogy, launched by the composed colon, terminates the poem as summation. The complete third and fourth lines clarify: “ ‘Like to like nature’: these agglutinous/ yellows!” (Pound 114). The “women before a shop” behave unconsciously, as a clustering of cells. The threads of color in the poem connect the analogy even further. The “false amber” (amber can be described as yellowy brown) aligns with the “yellows!” The women in the initial image are drawn to “false” yellowy baubles, just as “agglutinous yellows” would be toward each other. The complexity of this image is hidden behind the laconic idiom. This correlation of color has multiple consequences. The women themselves behave like “agglutinous yellows” attracted to more yellow. This enables an understanding of conduct. Also, as a visual image, further understanding and deeper examination emerges. While the reader attempts to imagine “agglutinous yellows,” a nearly disturbing vision dismantles all humanity from the female subject. The women behave as “agglutinous yellows,” but also they austerely equal to the mysterious “agglutinous yellows.”
The image is evoked dispassionately, accurate sounding as the study of soulless cells. This technique of tongue paints an image as directly and modestly as a chart categorizes species. The controlled tone of the analogy in the poem releases the reader from ethical considerations and impositions. The images and their arrangement in the poem are cleansed of any principled rhetoric or any diluting diction. Clean and clear-cut as a scientific theory, the poem, Women Before a Shop, extraordinarily prompts an examination of commonplace behavior. A quiet reflection of ideology sparks within its reader. A question is asked. A sentiment of breakthrough materializes.
Amidst this petite inspection of a few of Pound’s Imagist poems, Women Before a Shop, In a Station of the Metro, Alba, The Bath Tub, The Tea Shop, and The Garden, a sentiment of accuracy and intention materializes; a case against the cliché view of Imagism is made. Imagism reveals itself to be not only a form of poetic practice, but also a method of experience and thought transference. Women Before a Shop, In a Station of the Metro, Alba, The Bath Tub, The Tea Shop, and The Garden each depict singular minute instances of time, yet amidst these tiny glimmers of time, a collection of specific historical, cultural and human experiences are documented and induced. The Garden dissembles society’s preconceived schema of an upper class woman in Kensington Garden, lifting the curtain on constructed, plotted beauty. The Garden emits sentiments affiliated with death, loss, apocalypse and isolation. The Tea Shop, with all its picturesque pleasantries, divulges the absurdity of obsession with youth and beauty. The poem inflicts the truth of mortality onto the reader. The Bath Tub paints an image of the loss of passion. It instigates an examination of ideologies such as chivalry and romance. The reader after reading The Bath Tub feels as empty and cold as a porcelain bath tub. Alba, laconic as Troubadour poem, portrays the departure of a lover. The poem motivates sadness and loneliness within the reader. In a Station of the Metro a rare, nearly spiritual account of humanity scatters a variety of avenues which lead to a meditation on human kind. Women Before a Shop, as scientific and objective as it reads, forces the reader to mull over consumerism and human behavior. Tacit sentiments flow out of Pound’s poems, drifting on undercurrents of social criticism and social examination. These flashes of sentiment and revelation surpass the confines of Pound’s efficient form and limited rhetoric, rhetoric clear of politics, morality or charm. Herbert N. Schneidau asserts it best: “The sense of the isolated ‘moment,’ of instantaneity, that inheres in a short Imagist poem has been useful to render shapes of insight or sudden illumination or realization” (189). The poems discussed in this essay, alongside Pound’s massive collection of poetic work, demonstrate the intense potential contained within an Imagist poem.
The same effect of title in The Garden is used in Pound’s poem The Tea Shop. The Tea Shop, like The Garden deals with the dismantlement of beauty. The tea shop, a respite, a daintiness, a portrait of petite femininity is depicted as the opposite. In Pound’s The Tea Shop, the tea shop, like the garden of The Garden becomes an unlikely setting for a development of atypically associated emotions and ideals. The poem, The Tea Shop, frames the picture of a grim reality. The poem undetectably emits a sentiment of disillusion, death and nostalgia. In the frame of the tea shop, the reality of what society considers beautiful is revealed as meaningless and makeshift. The poem is small: nine dense lines. Again, in the small scope of a short poem, Pound manages to release a flood of ideas and emotions.
The poem begins, like The Garden, with a seemingly lovely and typically associated image: “The girl in the tea shop” (Pound 116). It is with the sudden twist of an immediate enjambment that the poem evolves into an image of mortality and age: “Is not so beautiful as she was,/ The August has worn against her./ She does not get up the stairs so eagerly;/ Yes, she will also turn middle-aged,/ And the glow of youth that she spread about us/ As she brought us our muffins/ Will be spread about us no longer./ She will also turn middle-aged” (Pound 116). The poem in the second line directly, frankly states, “is not so beautiful as she was.” The poem then explains why “the girl in the tea shop” is “not so beautiful” forthrightly. It is the elements of nature, “The August has worn against her.” August, a summer month, a month typically associated with warmth and life, becomes an antagonist of sorts. The month has “worn against her.” The term “worn” evokes an action of nature, an action that cannot be stopped like the sea would erode a cliff. The use of a month to portray this action alludes to time and cycle. August, objectively, is just a span of time, thirty one days. August, subjectively, (“Direct treatment of the “thing,” whether subjective or objective”) represents the never-ending curse of time and age. August does not only wear the girl out, but also it wears “against her.” This phrase situates the girl as a victim, a victim of nature’s course, of erosion caused by time. This loss of beauty becomes inevitable with the image of August wearing “against her.” The reader must then leap to the conclusion that the girl “does not get up the stairs so eagerly” (Pound 116) because of the hostile August (time), or the unspoken aggressors age and recurrence. The fourth line, “She does not get up the stairs so eagerly,” smears the image conveyed in the very first line: “The girl in the tea shop.” The twist is subtle, yet pungent all at once. The image of the girl faintly becomes one of a “worn” out, perhaps tired female that does not move “so eagerly.” Unsurprisingly, but nearly too frank, the following line declares the female’s fate: “Yes, she also will turn middle-aged” (Pound 116). The words in the fifth line are unsentimental by definition, but the pile of images that sit on this line transform the words into an announcement of loss and fixed fate. The word, “Yes,” speaks to the reader. It is an answer to the questions that Pound unmistakably is sure the reader will ask after reading the first four lines. It reveals the truth, “Yes, she will also turn middle-age,” in an honest, plain arrangement, yet its placement evokes the shock and sadness of a loss. Pound, does not tell the reader how to feel at this moment in the poem, yet, explicably, the reader experiences distress and disillusion (the illusion of the “girl in the tea shop” is ripped apart) by nothing other than a telling of reality (“Yes, she will also turn middle-aged”).
Once the reader is injured by the mental trigger of the poem, Pound almost wickedly reminds the reader of what this smudged “girl in the tea shop” used to be, only to betray the reader again with another exposure of reality. He attempts to put back the pieces of the first line’s image: “And the glow of youth that she spread about us/ As she brought us muffins” (Pound 116) in lines six and seven. Such a pretty picture is embodied by these two lines, chunks of delight: “glow of youth,” “spread about us,” “brought us muffins.” A picturesque representation of a typical tea shop nearly tortures the reader. The reader must leap from an image of beauty’s mortality back to an image of society’s splendor (“glow of youth,” “muffins”). It is with the reader’s efforts to connect the images of this poem that he/she must recognize that society’s inclinations toward beauty, sophistication and adornment are an unattainable fantasy. This fantasy is exposed as fruitless candidly and simply within the last two lines of the poem: “Will be spread about us no longer,/ She will also turn middle-aged” (Pound 116). There is nothing explicitly disturbing in these final lines, yet, they are unsettling.
The arousal of the physical senses cannot go unnoticed either. In both the delightful image, “the glow of youth that she spread about us,” and in the final disruptive image, “Will be spread about us no longer,” the use of the word “spread” induces connotations with luxurious food condiments and intimate sexual moments. Sexuality as a form of Imagism was approved of by Pound. Schneidau explains, “This belief, Pound’s own version of ‘Unity of Being,’ connects the light of enlightenment as well as the ‘hard light and clear edges’ of Imagism with sexual function– another reason, perhaps, why so many of Pound’s poems involve sexual encounters ” (121). In this poem (along with others mentioned in the examination of Imagism as a means for emotional imposition), sexual imagery functions as a direct stimulation, an express route into the reader’s frame of mind, sometimes even more accurately and more primitively than the images meant to impose emotions (emotions can be so complex depending on personal associations from personal experience). These luxuries and pleasures that the reader will think of are harshly severed by Pound’s final image: “She will also turn middle-aged.” Again, in a declarative tone, Pound, instigates an alarming sensation in the reader, an inauguration of tea shop truth.
In line with the porcelain of tea cups and the sensuousness of a tea shop girl, Pound’s poem, The Bath Tub, disrobes the design of a romantic relationship. The image of title itself is titillating, an asset that attracts the reader. Through the use of a bath tub “lined with porcelain” (Pound 100) analogy, Pound indiscreetly displays the truth of his romance with a lady. Again, the reader is not demanded to feel a certain way, nor is he/she mentally entangled in a list of emotional utterances. The reader simply encounters an exhibition by way of an uncanny likeness. The Bath Tub cunningly and artfully rubs disheartenment and deflation onto the reader. Similar to The Garden and The Tea Shop, The Bath Tub begins with a seemingly lovely, delicate image: “As a bathtub lined with white porcelain” (Pound 100). Like The Garden, The Bath Tub’s initial image conceals intricate layers. A bath tub, typically a place of cleanliness and sensuousness is revealed to be merely “lined with white porcelain.” The implications of this detail arouse curiosity. The reader does not know what the bathtub is actually composed of, merely what it is lined with. The image conceals the actual material that sustains the shape and structure of the bathtub, like make-up, perfume, clothing, style, etc. beautify or conceal the chemistry of reality.
The Bath Tub slips into another image, one of temperature, and this is where the analogy awakens. Following the painting of the bathtub, its enterprise is presented: “When the hot water gives out or goes tepid” (Pound 100). It is at this precise moment in the life of a bathtub that Pound finds his analogous image. The comparison is not only to a “bathtub lined with white porcelain,” but also to a bathtub that’s “hot water gives out or goes tepid.” Indeed, this is an instant that a reader can envision from personal experience. The emotions at this slight instant can be recovered with thought (instant loss of hot water will cause disappointment, discomfort, coldness, repulsion). It is at this specific moment in poetic time that Pound drags the reader out of his thoughts of tepid bath water and into the correlating image of romance in the third line: “So is the cooling of our chivalrous passion” (Pound 100). The particular feelings wrapped around the flash of a lost hot water are immediately imposed on the image of a romance, a “chivalrous passion” that cools. As with most of Pound’s poems, word choice is not irrational or unintended. The “cooling” of “hot water” occurs to not just any passion; it inflicts a “chivalrous passion.” The term “chivalrous” evokes status and comportment. Indeed, this “passion” is well-behaved, refined and traditional. This is a juxtaposing pair of words, for chivalry involves courtesy and “passion” involves impulse. In this odd mix-up of romantic terms, a kind of awareness evolves in the reader. The irrationality of upper class romantic convention is exposed; the reader responds emotionally to this odd coupling: revelation, consciousness, sympathy, empathy.
It is only in the final two lines that the speaker reveals to whom he is sharing this analogy to: his lady, his partner in “chivalrous passion.” The very short poem ends with this surprise: “O my much praised but-not-altogether-satisfactory/ lady” (Pound 100). The direct address to the “lady” depicts her guise, the guise which is comparable to the lining of “white porcelain.” The lady is “much praised.” This suggests a kind of popularity or status, a superficial examination. Deeper examination calls for dissection, a dissection of the bathtub, the lady. Pound, like a scientist-poet, dismembers the nature of the lady: “but-not-altogether-satisfactory.” The words are combined to evoke a kind of vomit-like presentation, an explosion of truth. These words are colloquial, simple and squished. This is stream-of-conscious-like. Another juxtaposing pair: “much praised” and “but-not-altogether-satisfactory.” This pair of descriptors disentangles truth. Under the costume of societal praise and acceptance hides dissatisfaction. The isolation of the word “lady,” causes consideration. The term “lady” is excluded for emphasis. Associations of perfection, grace, and femininity orbit the word. The epitome of feminine perfection is mutated into a word-chain of dissatisfaction. Also, the segregation of the word “lady” stirs up an emotion: loneliness. The simple image of the bathtub comes to tell the unnatural story of “chivalrous passion.” The reader without reading it, without seeing it, feels disheartenment because the poem’s images operate solely in the links of the mind.
Part 4 coming soon…
The poems which appear simple and short unnoticeably secrete a plethora of attitude and emotion. An image depicted with particular words, like a photograph, can enable feeling. Connotations derived from personal, real experiences creep up on the reader like illness.
Continued from previous post, Part 1
An examination of Pound’s poem, The Garden, unravels an entanglement of ideas and emotions during the depiction of a female in a garden. A wind of suggestion blown by the words of the poem disperses uneasiness, grief, isolation and illness onto the reader. The poem takes place in three parts. It begins with the image of a privileged female in Kensington Garden. It then ventures in the second stanza to a tangent image of impoverished youth. The final image quickly depicts the female in the garden once again. The small poem boxes the reader into associations. The second image of poverty shocks the reader with its apocalyptic, graphic language. The large leaps the reader must take from stanza to stanza enable mental projections of emotions and revelations to fill in the spaces of the poem. To understand this precise process the poem must be examined closely. Pound states in his manifesto of Imagism, “To use absolutely no word that did not contribute to the presentation” (Coffman 9). Therefore, in the study of Pound, each word must be observed and considered with care and astuteness.
The Garden begins: “Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall/ She walks by the railing of a path in Ken-/sington Gardens,/And she is dying piece-meal/ of a sort of emotional anæmia” (Pound 83). The poem commences with a strong simile. The subject of the poem, the female, arrives in the second line. The first line displays the item that the female is “Like.” This ties the depiction of the female to an object, an object that unquestionably, immediately discharges connotations. The female is “Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall,” (Pound 83). Firstly, the term “skein” perpetuates the mind to move in the direction of manufactory. This alliance to fabrication demonstrates a lack of power in the behavior of the female. A “skein” is used in the assemblage of clothing and cloth. A “skein” is also only a part, or a component of an item that has not yet been fabricated. This displays incompleteness in the object to which the female subject is being compared, linking the female subject to immaturity and pliancy. The image is more precise; she is like a “skein of loose silk.” The chosen fabric exhibits luxury, expense and delicacy (this is Pound’s divulgement of the subject’s class too). Silk is a fabric that appears unique and exotic. It is also not a durable fabric. Silk is flimsy and easily corrupted with snags. The image in the simile is even more precise, “a skein of loose silk blown against a wall.” The subject is compared to a piece of extremely delicate piece of cloth used for manufacture that is “blown against a wall.” The image of a cloth against the wall conveys a lack of strength, a submissiveness, a weakness, and an entrapment. Cloth “blown against a wall” cannot escape its destiny without the change of weather, or the stopping of a fan. The fate of the cloth solely depends on the actions around it. Thus, Pound conveys the position, the persona of the female subject without overtly displaying adjectives such as weak, compliant, forced, and trapped. It is through the invisible process in the readers’ minds that the situation of the female is disclosed. This process supports Pound’s statement: “Beyond this, men think & feel certain things. & see certain things not with the bodily vision” (Witemeyer 11).
Once Pound evokes the female’s placement in the world with an image in the first line, he continues to paint her actions, “She walks by the railing of a path” (Pound 83). The picture of a woman walking by the railing directly correlates with her linkage to “a skein of loose silk blown against a wall.” The attachment to railings arouses connotations to the sickly, the weak or the elderly. These suggestions toward the feeble accelerate and then pause at the end of the stanza: “And she is dying piece-meal/ of a sort of emotional anæmia” (Pound 83). The language is a climax of associations. She not only walks fastened to a railing, but also she is “dying piece-meal/ of a sort of emotional anæmia” (Pound 83). Immediately the reader associates death and grief. She dies “piece-meal;” she dies gradually as one that is ill would. Finally, Pound discloses the profound sickness: “emotional anæmia.” This is, of course, an Imagist’s invention. Anæmia is a sickness which arises from a “lack of.” Pound discloses what she lacks: emotion. It is the reader’s choice now to decide why. It is Pound’s intention to impose the truth: the emotional sickness is diagnosed with the cornering of the female subject.
Once the reader reaches the culmination of the first image, the reader is thrust into a new image sans delicacy or flowery tongue. The second stanza depicts an opposed image: “And round about there is a rabble/ Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable, infants of the very/ poor./ They shall inherit the earth” (Pound 83). The isolated image of the first stanza is juxtaposed by the second stanza’s illustration of a mob of impoverished infants. Indeed, the typical images associated with infants are disposed of in this poem. Pound not only paints a new image, but also he paints a realistic image. The infants are not feeble, like the female subject. The infants, on the contrary, are “filthy, sturdy, unkillable.” The adjectives evoke alarm. An “unkillable” baby descends into the fear of society’s upper crust; it enables coalition with the supernatural, the immortal, and the inexplicable. This terrifying image peaks in the final line of the stanza: “They shall inherit the earth.” Immediately preceding this final line is a line which consists of one word: “poor.” The isolation of the word allows the reader to dive into mental organization. It is as though the word “poor” itself collaborates with Pound, doing the work of exposing societal situation, demonstrating the fear of poverty as an authority. Indeed, Pound, aware of all the involuntary mental connection that will occur in the mind during the reading of this line, uses this poetic state of affairs to his advantage. The poor, human as any upper-class person, will also, “inherit the earth.” The choice of the word “inherit,” not only evokes matters of death, but also it is typically a word used amongst the wealthy, for it is the wealthiest of folks that “inherit” items and money. In this stanza, Pound pulls from the web of word connotations to evoke fear in the context of reality.
Finally, Pound plays with the image relations of the first two stanzas to end the poem with an exhibition of emotional juxtapositions. The final stanza terminates the poem with a more direct linkage to emotion: “In her is the end of breeding./ Her boredom is exquisite and excessive./ She would like someone to speak to her,/ And is almost afraid that I/ will commit that indiscretion” (Pound 83). In the same way that Pound ends the second stanza with juxtaposing language, associating the “poor” with the term “inherit,” he associates this aristocratic female with the term “breeding.” The word, “breeding,” is technical in meaning. It implies the reproduction of a preferred type of being. An unexpected schema of ideas flourishes in the reader’s mind. “In her is the end of breeding,” induces another connection to apocalypse, evoking an “end,” a termination of her kind. Pound then describes her mental state: “Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.” “Boredom,” a typically immeasurable word, is described as an object: “exquisite and excessive.” “Exquisite” and “excessive” are usually associated with luxurious items. Pound endorses the mental state as a calculable object. In doing so, a complex idea emerges. Aristocratic aspiration s to appear a certain way (bored) are revealed as an impossibility with the depicted of something intangible as tangible (boredom cannot be measured, yet there is no limit to how bored this upper-class woman should appear).
In the terminating lines of the poem, Pound finally incorporates words of emotion: “She would like someone to speak to her,/ And is almost afraid that I/ will commit that indiscretion” (Pound 83). Here, Pound overtly shows the impracticality of the aristocratic ambition, the futility of attempting to appear one way, but to think otherwise. The female subject of the poem remains caught in an awkward state of uncertainty and fear. She longs to step outside the loneliness, “She would like someone to speak to her,” but is paused with fear to enact upon this desire, “And is almost afraid that I/ will commit that indiscretion.” While, the reader does not exactly know what causes this fear, the reader does have a rich collage of images that Pound has gathered in the poem. The reader can associate the reasons for his/herself. The female, after all, is “blown against a wall,” is “dying piece-meal,” and contains within her “the end of breeding.” The image of the feeble, fearful female as a “skein of loose silk” encompasses an inclination for the extravagant and the manufactured. The contradictory, unnatural state of the poem’s female subject exposes the pointlessness of the contrived. The female, herself, is dissembled, alongside the virtues of flowery delicate representations. Also, the title of the poem, “The Garden,” exemplifies the counterfeit virtue of the flowery. A garden typically would attract a reader looking for a poem about the constructed beauty of a garden. A garden is lovely in an unnatural way. Each plant is planted to fit someone’s particular schema of how nature should be and not what it is. Pound deconstructs a viewer’s impulse to see something beautiful in a garden. After reading The Garden, the typical vision of a garden is shattered. The image of the garden comes to represent the futility of itself, the unnaturalness of it. The poem begins with an image of something beautiful and ends with the exposure something unnatural and juxtaposed, the upper-class female’s state of mind in the contrived atmosphere of Kensington Garden.
It should be noted, that while Pound expresses the female subject’s emotional state in the end of The Garden, he does not impose the mentioned emotions onto the reader. The feelings that are meant to be felt (isolation, apocalypse, grief, unnaturalness, illness, revelation) by the reader are the ones that are not overtly mentioned, but invisibly displayed through Pound’s assemblage of images.
Part 3 soon (hopefully!) to come…