Although this is a fairly slim book, it covers a lot of ground. It tells and shows what the Imagists attempted, which poets were central to the Imagist movement, and who merely allowed their work to be included in its anthologies and became `fringe-members', as it were. If you have ever wondered where the division between English and American verse began, this book tells and shows it. The Introduction describes the enthusiasts' arguments, how the Pound-Eliot camp differed from the Pound-William Carlos Williams camp, and you can see in WC Williams' work how it led to his pursuit of an American idiom and an extreme drive to 'make new' which in others' hands became merely an impulse for novelty for its own sake. The selection of imagist verse represents 14 poets; all the works are short and each selection is well-judged to be representative of that poet. Two pre-imagist poets are included, separately, and six of the imagists have their post-imagist work separately represented so that you can see some development. The value of the book is in the judicious selection of poets and their verse, an informative 31 page Introduction, and 24 pages of Appendices which include essays and letters about Imagism by FS Flint, Ezra Pound, and extracts from the Prefaces to Imagist anthologies. There are also short biographical notes on the poets. This is a clear introduction to Imagism and an excellent edition for those who are familiar with it. If you are not that familiar with Imagism, the Introduction alone is worth the price of the book.
A definitive,albeit brief guide to this succinct poetic style,with numerous examples of the key players work that initiated this form;coupled with an excellent learned introduction to Imagism and supported by helpful notes,appendices and brief biographies of these innovative poets of this free verse style.Worthy of a place on the serious poetry lover's bookshelf.
Its animating force Ezra Pound, Imagism was a move away from the so-called Georgian Poets who wrote in exalted diction about 'serious' subjects and tended to the discursive, whereas it dealt in the fleeting, influenced by Japan and France and cleaved to The New in art, which Pound nicely wrote 'is news that stays news.' The Imagists are big on Don'ts and saw their business as preaching a new purged poetry. There is attitudising as well as truth here since Eliot's early voice mimics the man Pound called Lawn Tennyson - " For Tennyson had a brain. A large brain like a farmhouse clock" Eliot wrote acerbically - quite closely and Pound himself was in love with Norse and Japan. Good selection with a nice introduction to help you see how this loose aggregation were forming the first modern poetry in English and whose apogee was reached in the Modernist efforts of Pound, Eliot and William Carlos Williams. whose dictum 'Make it New' inspired many to a very American poetic while Eliot's like the man himself became more mystical. Important, clear and comprehensive. with key letters and documents.
When I first encountered the imagists and their poetry,there was a feeling of kinship, for ther ideals were coincidentally similar to my own. Their sources of inspiration, too--both ancient Greek lyric, and oriental. And the difference that I discovered between their practise and my own, was also illuminating.
There are some delightful little poems in this collection. Admittedly, the Imagist manner has its limitations. All too often, it results in a static, stained-glass window kind of beauty. Chinese Tang dynasty poet Wang Wei--a poet some of them may have been familiar with, and a Buddhist--comes to mind.
The editor has provided an excellent introduction too, along with biographical info on the poets featured
I bought this book for my university degree, thinking that I'd read it once and probably end up selling it on. Five years later and it's still on my shelf. I absolutely adore imagist poetry and my favourite poem from the book is HD's 'Oread' - just fantastic. Dont get me wrong I don't go round reading poetry on a regular basis but this is pretty much the only poetry book I'll pick up these days.