by Mary Gunderson
It was going to be an blank title—it could almost have been a blank essay too. This is exactly what I felt after reading five of Ezra Pound’s poems. In a way, I don’t really know how to lead into this. I feel as jumbled now as when I was studying the poems. I will try to make sense of this blank feeling or thought.
It leads to the fact that I saw Ezra Pound being a very blank and sad person himself. Ah, but that could make for great poetry. Lasting poetry, one that would stir every hard moment in your own life. I wonder too if we read poetry only to have the feelings stirred. In a way, I learned to admire the fact that Ezra Pound made me feel nothing. That I had no images, that I had no feelings.
Ezra Pounds choice of line breaking also adds to how this “emptiness”, this “blankness” occurs. I think it demonstrates more the agony he is going through. “See, they return: ah, see the tentative / Movements, and the slow feet.” That is a verse from The Return. It is a great line and a great break. How he chooses to carry “Movements” into it’s own line. I hadn’t seen that before—it was only two days after where I saw how the line breaks is the point of concern.
Putting him up against another poet, Emily Dickinson, I learned even more to understand that empty title. After reading through Emily Dickinson’s poems, I realized what had drawn me to her, and the great difference between her and Ezra Pound. When I first read, “I can wade Grief”, a line from Emily Dickinson’s “252”, I felt it. I saw it. It was like a painting. I would describe Ezra Pounds choice of words clear—clear in the sense of you see it for what it is—without anything behind it. It is like a painting that shows you everything—without letting you image what is around the curve. Now some may quite enjoy having it just set there so you know exactly without even having to feel or imagine.
I still feel empty—blank…trying to capture the poems…trying to live into them. I struggle with it though. I only find I am able to hold it for a moment when I admire the fact that I don’t feel anything. That is Ezra Pound is Ezra Pound clear…or blank…like the words that fill his verses. And that is that.