Monday, May 20, 2013

Poetry March 1913

Poetry March 1913

This issue didn’t have any poems that stood out to me as especially excellent, though it is famous for its essays on imagism.  I will admit that for a minute I thought I was readings early Yeats when I ran into Fannie Stearns Davis's “Two Songs of Conn the Fool.”  Very much Yeatsian in their subject matter and style. I might look into the connection. Perhaps they are imitations?  Davis, I’ve learned, was from Ohio, and would seem at first to have no reason to be so Irish…

Imagisme gets further defined with the publication of Flint’s famous essay, and Pound’s incredibly famous essay, on that subject.

The news, for me, is the editorial footnote:

“Editor's Note—In response to many requests for information regarding Imagism and the Imagistes, we publish this note by Mr. Flint, supplementing it with further exemplification by Mr. Pound. It will be seen from these that Imagism is not necessarily associated with Hellenic subjects, or with vers libre as a prescribed form” (198). 

It’s delightful, isn’t it?  The implication is that the public was more curious about the Greek content and the form than the underpinning idea, and Poetry is quick to make the distinction.  On the one hand, the footnote placates the “poems about aeroplanes” modernists, and on the other it heads off the anti-free-verse traditionalists.  Monroe attempts to determine the grounds of the debate to a place where it won't alienate key constituencies. 

Flint and Pound together are too much for this blog post, though I might refer back to it when they begin to fight over the definition of imagism later. 

Also, Harriet Monroe contributed an essay on the “Servian Epic,” really more of a report on a lecture by Madame Slavko Grouitch.  I’m intrigued because the First Balkan War appears often in The New Age, but I hadn’t exactly expected it to appear in Poetry.  The thesis: that the heroic spirit of Serbia has been preserved by their poetry, and it has inspired the war.  Weaponized poetics, not an uncommon theme, nor an irrelevant one—I think Poetry, in this pre-WWI moment, relishes the thought.  A line from a long-forgotten Latin class is hovering around my mind, I can’t quite catch it, but I think somewhere Juvenal says something to the effect that everyone would like to be able to hurt people, even if they don't want to actually hurt anyone...

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