Hulme (1883-1917) attended the University of Cambridge without taking a degree and it was mainly through private study in Europe and later in London that it made him as a philosopher and aesthetician. He was particularly interested in the wrote of the French philosopher Bergson, and published a translation of “An introduction to Metaphysics”in 1913. On the outbreak of the World War Hulme volunteered for military service. He was killed in France in 1917.
Hulme acquired an almost legendary posthumous reputations the key thinker for yhe Pound-Eliot revolution in English poetry in the second decade of the century. His essay Romanticism and Classicism, may be read in part as a manifesto for Imagism, especially in its recommending a “dry, hard” poetic style, a modernist poetics based on a preference for classical over romantic values.
Autumn is perhaps Hulme's most quoted Imagist poem. Much of the point of the poem lies in the poet's refusal to idealize nature and his taking a cheerful, ironic attitude towards it. Above the Dock works along similar lines; the moon, celebrated in poetry for thousand of years, is here reductively compared to a child's balloon caught in a ship's rigging. In The Sunset, the setting sun is compared to a music-hall dancer, like those much in fashion in the 1890s; the sunset, which had long been regarded as one of the great glories of nature and an inspiration to poets and artist, is here reduced to the dancer's flaunted scarlet underwear. Such mockery would have seemed terribly unpoetic to the fin de siècle poets. Image is the most prose-like of Hulme's imagines; it bears witness to his taste for common life and every day happenings.
A touch of cold in the Autumn night—
I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded,
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.
Above the dock
Above the quiet dock in midnight,
Tangled in the tall mast's corded height,
Hangs the moon. What seemed so far away
Is but a child's balloon, forgotten after play.
A coryphee, covetous of applause,
Loth to leave the stage,
With final diablerie, poises high her toe,
Displays scarlet lingerie of carmin’d clouds,
Amid the hostile murmurs of the stalls.
Old houses were scaffolding once and workmen whistling.