Sunday, June 17, 2012


When I have a nightmare it doesn't always contain a monster or a ghost. I had a terrible nightmare the other night, and it was about exams.
The assignment at hand was write about anything you like.
- From the syllabus? - I asked.
- From anything you like. - was the answer I was given.
And on an exam that was pretty much the most terrible task I could get. In real life I have no problems writing about whatever I like, that's how I roll... But in that situation I felt completely lost.
The hours flew, and suddenly, when only two hours remained I landed on the sonnet. If you have read this blog before, you might have read an entry or two about the sonnet. I think the sonnet is a very interesting poem, and I keep coming back to it.
But the sonnet I chose to write about isn't considered a sonnet by anyone but me, so obviously...still me being me...I took a huge risk on this exam.

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
He was born in Idaho, but in 1908 he moved to Europe and settled in London.
Ezra, being active in the middle of modernism, had an urge to "Make it New", and tried his best to reinvent poetry, moving as far away from what made him want to be a poet in the first place.
He coined a new expression, "imagism", which was his name for his new kind of poetry. Rather than describing something - an object or a situation - and then generalizing about it, imagist poets attempted to present the object directly, avoiding the complex but predictable verse forms of traditional poetry (Norton Anthology).
This becomes very clear in the poem I'll look into.

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

These few words took him three years to write, so they had to be significant...

Let's just take a quick trip down memory lane, what was a sonnet again?
The Sonnet contains 14 lines (or verses - one line is called a verse). When talking about Italian sonnets, these 14 lines were divided in two, an octave (8 lines) and a sestet (6 lines). The octave can be, and often is, divided into two quatrains (4 lines), and the sestet can be, and often is, divided into two tersets (3 lines), so in the end it's all mathematics...though content has nothing to do with numbers, unless you are writing a sonnet about numbers, but then we're moving into philosophy, and I had something else in mind completely, I think...
You have terms called volta, which is a turn... and a sonnet is considered the important poem.
Shakespeare changed it to contain 3 quatrains and 1 couplet in the end...Still 14 lines, and still the important poem...
But not to complicate things, let's stick to 14, 8 and 6.
Now let's have a look at the poem above...

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;  8 words...
Petals on a wet, black bough...6 words...

Though my mathematics mark is awful, I can't help noticing that 8 + 6 = 14, and this has to be significant, it just has to.
In class last semester, my teacher called this a haiku. I disagreed. This is no haiku...
I claimed there and then that this is a post-modernistic, minimalistic sonnet, and that he's sticking to the traditions still, only reinventing them as a true "imagist" would. My teacher smiled and laughed and said it was a good idea, but she herself had never thought about it. She couldn't confirm my notion, nor could she dismiss it... So there was no more discussion on the subject.
But here I'm going to claim that this is in fact a sonnet...And I do so, completely convinced I'm right. Count the words... there's even a volta. In the first 8 words he sets the scene, in the last 6 words he comes with his conclusion, classic sonnet. Classic!

Here he's using his "imagism", he's presenting the object directly. But what is he saying?
OK, let's tumble down the rabbit hole anyway, let's get philosophical...
And please correct me if I'm borderline crazy now, my interpretation is just that, my interpretation... Luckily a poem interpretation is as individual as there are interpretations... But I obviously would be wrong if I said he was talking about... cake...or dogs... It could be dogs, he could be seeing the dog's faces...
No, I'm not gonna get sidetracked, not so close to the end of my nightmare.

I think we might be talking about reflections in water.
I can see the poet sitting on a bench at the Metro in Paris, staring at the floor. It has been raining outside, and people's wet shoes has formed puddles. In these puddles he can see the reflections of the faces belonging to people getting on and off trains. The faces are only reflections, echoes even, of the real thing, and here is where the poetry lies.
Then I had to submit my assignment, and I'm sure I failed...Unless I made someone think...
Hopefully I did! :)

But it was only a dream...

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