BK. Ezra Pound

3. In a Station of the Metro. Poetry 2 (April 1913): 12.

  The two most famous lines in the Pound canon have been reprinted often, including in these early collections of Pound’s verse.  

The first publication of perhaps the most famous lines in the Pound canon—‘The apparition   of these faces   in the crowd: / Petals   on a wet, black  bough’—closes a twelve-page selection of the first verse Pound published following the now-famous definitions of Imagism that had appeared in Poetry the previous month (1 and 2). In the later ‘How I Began’ (4) and ‘Vorticism’ (12) Pound describes the process by which he arrived at his ‘hokku-like sentence’, and draws instrumentally on an understanding of the ‘hokku’ that had allowed him to intuit the ‘form of super-position’, which he found characterises the ‘beauty’ of this ‘Japanese sort of knowing’. Many critics after Pound himself have discussed the relation between the ‘form of super-position’ and the hokku, but the best treatment remains Miner’s (A25, pp. 112-23), which traces the device and Pound’s variations on it throughout his work, in April and Gentildonna (5), Alba and The Bath-Tub (see 6), Liu Ch’e (7a), Fan-Piece, for Her Imperial Lord (7b), Ts’ai Chih (7c), Mauberley (33), The Cantos (57), and others; Miner’s ‘Absorption of Japan into Twentieth-Century Poetry’ (A25, pp. 156-201) describes and analyses the widespread imitation and adaptation of the super-pository technique in work by Aiken, Aldington, Bynner, Flint, Fletcher, Lowell, Archibald MacLeish, Stevens (see CA7), William Carlos Williams, and others. See also Aldington’s Penultimate Poetry (BB1) for a parody of the Metro poem and the technique of super-position, Kanaseki (A40) for a denial that the discordia concors of super-position has anything to do with haiku, Lustra (20) for other poems employing the technique of super-position, and, for related discussion, BH13, BK82a1, 111, 185, and 196. The poem is reprinted in 20, 37, 39, 58, and 74.





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