In the Station of the Metro is a short but yet symbolic poem written by a famous Imagist poet Ezra Pound. In only fourteen words, the writer managed to create a whole world full of symbols and vivid images. Thus, this poem has always been the object of many literary analyses. By shortening the poem to the fourteen words, Pound achieved the simplicity and brilliance through the literary dichotomy. I also find his poem interesting because it is a clear representation of the Imagist poetry with its pithiness. In the Station of the Metro helps the reader to train his imagination, uses the specific literary devices, as well as has a peculiar structure that is inherent to the best examples of the Imagist poetry.
First and foremost, this poem is remarkable because it creates a lot of images that help the readers to experience deep emotions and feelings. Speaking about how this poem influenced me and my perception of the world, I should tell about the writer’s experience that made him write such a masterpiece. Pound recalls:
Three years ago in Paris I got out of a ―metro‖ train at La Concorde, and saw suddenly a beautiful face, and then another and another, and then a beautiful child‘s face, and then another beautiful woman, and I tried all that day to find words for what this had meant to me, and I could not find any words that seemed to me worthy, or as lovely as that sudden emotion. (Pound n.p.)
The writer`s recollections can help to follow his key idea. He experienced such strong feelings that he could not even find the appropriate words:
I do not mean that I found words, but there came an equation . . . not in speech, but in little splotches of color. It was just that – a “pattern,” or hardly a pattern, if by “pattern” you mean something with a “repeat” in it. But it was a word, the beginning, for me, of a language in color. (Pound n.p.)
The writer`s imagination draws such a vivid picture that he even regretted that he was not a painter: “I realized quite vividly that if I were a painter, or if I had, often, that kind of emotion, of even if I had the energy to get paints and brushes and keep at it, I might found a new school of painting that would speak only by arrangements in color.” (Pound n.p.). Pound opens the whole world of images allowing the reader to paint the picture and feel the smell of the petals. The poem creates the atmosphere of boredom and routine of everyday life. The writer was amazed by the human faces in the metro station and used the effective tools to make the reader wonder too. Those faces are lost in the crowd; they are yet detached from society and scattered as “petals”. Today, people do not see the higher purpose of their existence, and the writer masterfully transferred their feelings into the paper. With the help of only two lines, the reader can imagine the sense of hopelessness and defeat. Undoubtedly, reading In the Station of the Metro, the audience falls into such a spiritual mood that helps to train its imagination.
As for the literary devices, I have found some symbols and metaphors that create the peculiar images. The poem`s vocabulary is carefully chosen: there is nothing superfluous. The most obvious metaphor is that the writer compares the human faces with the petals. Indeed, he uses the apparition that stands for unreality. With the help of the vivid metaphors, the poet compares the cold outer word with the beautiful faces in the Paris metro. The first part of the poem sounds quite unrealistic. However, Pound treats the faces of people as the petals in the second part of the poem. We know that the petal is something gentle and fragile. Just one moment, and it will disappear forever. Pound`s petals can be compared with the ephemerality and temporariness of human existence. What is more, petals can have different colors, shapes, shades, and sizes just like the human faces. At the first glance, there is nothing to decipher: it is just a lyrical photograph that touches the deepest strings of the reader’s soul. Using the Imagist devices, Pound omits verbs giving the reader the liberty of thinking. The writer`s allusions to “yellow fog” and “wetness” can be compared to the modern human life. The fog signifies the indifferent attitude to the world. This “fog” does not allow the man to see everything that surrounds him clearly. This grave-like image helps the reader to acknowledge the blackness and lifelessness of existence. In the Station of the Metro aims at demonstrating the whole power of short poems: sometimes they cause the strong reaction, and sometimes they can even change the reader`s worldview. By juxtaposing two concepts – two words, Pound tries to awaken the reader. In literature, it is called antithesis. Both fragments – two worlds, are divided by semicolon on the paper. This device helped the writer to transform one reality into another.
The structure of the poem is one more item that should be discussed. It is unique because it cannot be even considered as a complete sentence. This structure lacks verbs because Pound did not want to express the action, but was trying to describe some image. In the poem In the Station of the Metro, the author follows the best traditions of the Imagist poetry – the tight language, unadorned imagery, and special mood. Though it is very short, In the Station of the Metro makes the reader feel and experience the writer`s emotions. I believe that the secret of the success of this poem lies in the strong connection between the two lines. The first line describes the fussy crowd that is an inevitable part of the modern human life. The second line alludes to nature as an eternal source of human inspiration. Both these elements unite generating a very abundant meaning. Pound worked six months over this poem. Initially, it had thirty lines, but Pound shortened them following his key literature principles. Undoubtedly, this poem is the perfect example of the Imagist poetry. In the Station of the Metro is a form of image extensions: one idea is set on top of the other one. In the poems of such a kind, the poets are trying to capture the very moment when the external and objective subject turns and bumps into the internal and subjective one. In this miniature, we can see that the two phrases, two kinds of perception of the world are put in certain opposition to each other sparking with the attractive tension. I find this poem structure attractive because like in every imagist poem, its word has an internal image perspective being a part of a larger structure. I have chosen this poem for analysis because it is considered to be a landmark of Imagist poetry, and some of the researchers believe that it is the Imagist manifesto. In only fourteen words, the writer provided the readers with the images that provoke the vivid thinking, fantasy, and imagination. At first sight, this work is very simple, but its meaning opens like the last notes of an exquisite perfume.
In conclusion, I would like to say Ezra Pound`s poetry is a tiny bridge in the world of dreams and perfect images. Only a very skillful writer could create a whole universe ready to impress the most demanding reader with only fourteen words. Indeed, Pound`s poem is interesting not only with its technique but also the sense of human mysterious self-removal from the existence. To reach the desired effect, Pound used such devices as symbols, metaphors, and antithesis. With a jeweler’s precision, Pound demonstrated himself as the Imagist in its finest. Therefore, the structure of the poem is peculiar and unique. In the Station of the Metro is a short, simple, and expressive poem. It leaves the positive impression with its tenderness and pithiness creating the lyrical mood.