Sunday, February 19, 2012

Ezra Pound, "A Retrospect" 1913

"It is better to present one Image in a lifetime 
than to produce voluminous works."

"Pay no attention to the criticism of men who have 
never themselves written a notable work."

"The scientist does not expect to be acclaimed as a great scientist until he has discovered something. He begins by learning what has been discovered already. He goes from that point onward. He does not bank on being a charming fellow personally. He does not expect his friends to applaud the results of his freshman class work. Freshmen in poetry are unfortunately not confined to a definite and recognizable class room. They are 'all over the shop'. Is it any wonder 'the public is indifferent to poetry?"

"A rhyme must have in it some slight element of surprise 
if it is to give pleasure, it need not be bizarre or curious, 
but it must be well used if used at all."

"That part of your poetry which strikes upon the imaginative eye 
of the reader will lose nothing by translation 
into a foreign tongue; 
that which appeals to the ear can reach 
only those who take it in the original."

"Consider the definiteness of Dante's presentation, 
as compared with Milton's rhetoric."

"Read as much of Wordsworth as does not 
seem too unutterably dull."

"Don't mess up the perception of one sense 
by trying to define it in terms of another. 
This is usually only the result of being 
too lazy to find the exact word."

"Rhythm. - I believe in an 'absolute rhythm', 
a rhythm, that is, in poetry which corresponds exactly 
to the emotion or shade of emotion to be expressed."

"Symbols. - I believe that the proper and perfect 
symbol is the natural object . . ."

"Technique. - I believe in technique as 
the test of a man's sincerity . . ."

"Form. - I think there is a 'fluid' as well as a 'solid' content, 
that some poems may have form as a tree has form, 
some as water poured into a vase."

" . . . a vast number of subjects cannot be precisely, 
and therefore not properly rendered 
in symmetrical forms."

 "I am constantly contending that it took two centuries 
of Provence and one of Tuscany to develop 
the media of Dante's masterwork, 
that it took the latinists of the Renaissance, Pleiade, 
and his own age of painted speech to prepare 
Shakespeare his tools."

"It is tremendously important that great poetry be written, 
it makes no jot of difference who writes it." 

" . . . no one produces much that is final . . ."

"As for 'adaptations'; one finds that all the old masters 
of painting recommend to their pupils that 
they begin by copying masterwork, 
and proceed to their own composition."

"As for 'Every man his own poet', the more every man knows 
about poetry the better. I believe in every one writing poetry 
who wants to; most do."

"I believe in every man knowing enough of music 
to play 'God bless our home' on the harmonium, 
but I do not believe in every man giving concerts 
and printing his sin."

"The mastery of any art is the work of a lifetime. 
I should not discriminate between the 'amateur' 
and the 'professional' [. . .] but I should discriminate 
between the amateur and the expert."

"If a certain thing was said once for all in Atlantis or Arcadia, 
in 450 Before Christ or in 1290 after, it is not for us moderns 
to go saying it over, or to go obscuring the memory of the dead 
by saying the same thing with less skill and less conviction."

"All that the critic can do for the reader or audience 
or spectator is to focus his gaze or audition."

 "Surely it is better for me to name over the few 
beautiful poems that still ring in my head than 
for me to search my flat for back numbers of periodicals 
and rearrange all that I have said about 
friendly and hostile writers."



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