The True Voice of Feeling: Studies in English Romantic Poetry

By Herbert Read | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Ideas in Action: Ezra Pound

[i]

The young man from Idaho who descended on London one day in 1908 'complete in velvet coat, flowing tie, pointed beard and a halo of fiery hair?',1 has given his own account of those formative years and has tended to minimize the importance of Hulme's influence.2 He cannot, of course, evade the chronological priority of Hulme's theory and practice of imagist poetry; but Hulme had been drawn more and more towards philosophy, which Pound dismissed as so much 'crap', and had stopped writing verse. Pound had therefore turned to more congenial companions, particularly to Ford Madox Hueffer (later to be known as Ford Madox Ford) and to W. B. Yeats. Ford was a stimulating personality, and his fifteen months' editorship of The English Review made the years 1908-9 memorable. He had a great feeling for prose style, and talked endlessly of Flaubert and 'le mot juste'. But his influence on the development of English poetry was negligible. He himself wrote a loose impressionistic verse which shows no appreciation of the technical problems of free verse; and, indeed, to be just to Ford, he never made any pretension of being a significant poet. In his view the novel was the proper literary medium of our age, capable of doing

____________________
1
Richard Curle, Caravansary and Conversation. London ( Cape), 1937. Quoted by Michael Roberts, op. cit., 22.
2
Cf. "'This Hulme Business'", a short article contributed by Pound to The Townsman of January, 1938, and reprinted as Appendix I to The Poetry of Ezra Pound, by Hugh Kenner. London ( Faber), 1951.

-116-

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