One image poems di Pound
The following poems appeared in Pound's important collection of the Great War period, Lustra (1916). In a Station of the Metro in Pound's most famous Imagist Poem. The best descrption of the poem was provided by Pound himself in the Fortnightly Review, I September 1914. Pound writes:“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. And that evening, as I went home along the Rue Raynouard, I was still trying, and I found, suddenly, the expression. I do not mean that I found words, but there came an equation ... not in speech, but in little spotches of colour... That is to say, my experience in Paris should have gone into paint...If instead of colour I had perceived sound or planes in relation, I should have expressed it in music or in sculpture. Colour was, in that instance, the "primary pigment"; I mean that it was the first adequate equation that came into consciousness...The “one image poem” is a form of super-position, that is to say it is one idea set on top of another. I found it useful in getting out of the impasse in which I had been left with my metro emotion. I wrote a thirty-line poem, and destroyed it because it was what we call a work “of secondary intensity.” Six months later I made a poem half that length; a year later I made the following hokku-like sentence:“The apparition of these faces in the crowd:Petals, on a wet, black bough.”... In a poem of this sort one is trying to record the precise instant when a thing outward and objective transforms itself, or darts into a thing inward and subjective”
Some things are clear: the speaker is a woman who addresses her own fan (or her own favourite fan) and has a fellow feeling for it. This inanimate object symbolizes for her something dear in her own life, which now has to be “laid aside”, or renounced. The meaning discarded mistress, who is to be “laid aside” by her “lord” or noble lover (so that she will no longer have occasion to ply her fan or exercise her attractions for him. A single word, “also”, is the pivot, and the clue to the meaning of the whole poem. Alba is a fair imagist example of aubade convention, that is to say the description of a lover sleeping.
In a station of the metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Fan-piece for her imperial lord
O Fan of white silk,
clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.
As cool as the pale wet leaves
She lay beside me in the dawn.