A Short Analysis of Ezra Pound’s ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’

A summary of Pound’s Imagist manifesto

Modernist poetry in English never had an official manifesto, but there are several documents which conceivably have a claim to the de facto title: T. E. Hulme’s ‘A Lecture on Modern Poetry’ (1908), for instance, or T. S. Eliot’s ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919). Another potential claimant is Ezra Pound’s short essay ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’, which was published in Poetry magazine in 1913 and does have the right to the title ‘Imagist manifesto’. Since Imagism was the starting-point for much modernist English poetry, ‘A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste’ is worth exploring, summarising, and analysing here. You can read the full text here.

‘Imagisme’ (the final ‘e’ was Pound’s attempt to give the word a French sound, after Symbolisme; it was quickly, and quietly, dropped) began in the British Museum tea-room in 1912, when Ezra Pound declared to his ex-girlfriend Hilda Doolittle and her new boyfriend Richard Aldington that they were both ‘Imagist poets’, and the co-founders of a new poetic movement. (Pound also suggested Doolittle sign her poems simply as ‘H. D.’.) Read the rest of this entry

A Short Analysis of Henry Howard’s ‘In Cyprus Springs’

A summary of an early English sonnet

Although he gets the credit for it, William Shakespeare didn’t invent the Shakespearean sonnet. That specific poetic form – also known as the English sonnet – was instead the innovation of a Tudor courtier and poet named Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey (1517-47), who, as well as making Shakespeare’s Sonnets possible, also invented the verse form that would make Elizabethan drama possible: blank verse. The Bard had a lot to thank Henry Howard for.

‘In Cyprus Springs’ is the short title sometimes attached to the sonnet by Henry Howard, Earl of Surrey which begins ‘In Cyprus springs whereas Dame Venus dwelt’. (We’ll come to the punctuation in a moment.) This is a curious poem, an example of the ‘lover’s complaint’, and deserving of closer analysis. First, here is the poem:

In Cyprus, springs (whereas Dame Venus dwelt)
A well so hot, that whoso tastes the same,
Were he of stone, as thawed ice should melt,
And kindled find his breast with fixed flame,
Whose moist poison dissolved hath my hate. Read the rest of this entry

10 of the Best William Blake Poems

The greatest poems by William Blake

William Blake (1757-1827) is one of the key figures of English Romanticism, and a handful of his poems are universally known thanks to their memorable phrases and opening lines. In this post we’ve chosen what we consider to be ten of the best William Blake poems, along with links to each of them.

Jerusalem’. The hymn called ‘Jerusalem’ is surrounded by misconceptions, legend, and half-truths. Blake wrote the words which the composer Hubert Parry later set to music, but Blake didn’t call his poem ‘Jerusalem’, and instead the famous words that form the lyrics of the hymn are merely one part of a longer poem, a poem which Blake called Milton. The poem has been read as a satire of the rampant jingoism and Christian feeling running through England during the Napoleonic Wars, and has even been described as anti-patriotic, despite the patriotic nature of the hymn it inspired. Read the rest of this entry