BRIDGET WHELAN writer

August is archive month. Posts from the past

I is for IMAGIST POETRY

 

letter i

 

A short lived but very influential poetic movement that flourished both sides of the Atlantic around WWI.

It was a reaction to the  abstract language used by poets in the past which they described as flabby. Instead they demanded clarity through the use of precise visual images.
Leading members included Ezra Pound  William Carlos Williams, James Joyce, D. H. Lawrence and Amy Lowel.

Fog by Carl Sandburg is an example of an Imagist poem and I like the idea of the fog padding in on its little cat feet.

The fog comes

on little cat feet

It sits looking

over harbor and city

on silent haunches

and then moves on.

But for robust unflabby language you can’t beat Sandburg’s Chicago – an anthem to one of my favourite cities.

Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads

Stacker of Wheat, Player with Railroads (Photo credit: Chicago Man)

CHICAGO

     HOG Butcher for the World,
Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat,
Player with Railroads and the Nation’s Freight Handler;
Stormy, husky, brawling,
City of the Big Shoulders:

They tell me you are wicked and I believe them, for I
have seen your painted women under the gas lamps
luring the farm boys.
And they tell me you are crooked and I answer: Yes, it
is true I have seen the gunman kill and go free to
kill again.
And they tell me you are brutal and my reply is: On the
faces of women and children I have seen the marks
of wanton hunger.
And having answered so I turn once more to those who
sneer at this my city, and I give them back the sneer
and say to them:
Come and show me another city with lifted head singing
so proud to be alive and coarse and strong and cunning.
Flinging magnetic curses amid the toil of piling job on
job, here is a tall bold slugger set vivid against the
little soft cities;

Fierce as a dog with tongue lapping for action, cunning
as a savage pitted against the wilderness,
Bareheaded,
Shoveling,
Wrecking,
Planning,
Building, breaking, rebuilding,
Under the smoke, dust all over his mouth, laughing with
white teeth,
Under the terrible burden of destiny laughing as a young
man laughs,
Laughing even as an ignorant fighter laughs who has
never lost a battle,
Bragging and laughing that under his wrist is the pulse.
and under his ribs the heart of the people,
Laughing!
Laughing the stormy, husky, brawling laughter of
Youth, half-naked, sweating, proud to be Hog
Butcher, Tool Maker, Stacker of Wheat, Player with
Railroads and Freight Handler to the Nation.

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8 comments on “I is for IMAGIST POETRY

  1. Cathy Dreyer
    April 10, 2013

    Great poems, thanks Bridget and a fab new look for your blog. Woo hoo! Cathy x

    • bridget whelan
      April 10, 2013

      Thanks for the vote of confidence….yes, double who hoo! I like my new blog – it feels as though there is more elbow room, you can stretch out now…

  2. S. L. Hennessy
    April 10, 2013

    I love this particular movement in poetry. Very beautiful.

    Happy A to Z blogging!
    pensuasion.blogspot.com

  3. Clarissa Draper
    April 10, 2013

    I don’t know why it was short lived. I liked the poems.

  4. bridget whelan
    April 10, 2013

    Me too! And I wonder how short lived it was really in terms of influence…

  5. The Armchair Squid
    April 11, 2013

    Nice! Fog is definitely feline.

  6. Simon Wrigley
    April 11, 2013

    The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window panes,
    The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window panes
    Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
    Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
    Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
    And seeing that it was a soft October night,
    Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

    T S Eliot: from The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock
    published in Chicago in 1915

    Carl Sandburg published Fog Chicago 1916

    someone is borrowing or stealing or perhaps commenting

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This entry was posted on April 10, 2013 by in A-Z Challenge 2013 and tagged , , , , , , .
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