The Imagist Revolution: A Poetic Rhapsody


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The Imagist Revolution: A Poetic Rhapsody

The Poetry of

T.S. Eliot • William Faulkner • Agatha Christie • Ezra Pound

Richard Aldington • Hilda Dolittle (H.D.) • Amy Lowell • William Carlos Williams

Prepared and presented by Denis Daly

Featuring readings by

Winston Tharp, Alan Weyman, Patrick Wallace, Elizabeth Klett, Cate Barratt, and Bob Gonzalez

Music Excerpts from La Mer by Claude Debussy
Performed by the US Navy Band
Public domain recording released by Musopen

The Imagist Revolution: A Poetic Rhapsody

00:00 – 11:24 – Introduction by Denis Daly
11-24 – 19:23 – The Harvard Advocate Poems by T. S. Eliot, performed by Winston Tharp
19:23 – 21: 27 – Dark Sheila by Agatha Christie, performed by Winston Tharp
21:27 – 23:23 – L’Apres-Midi d’un Faune by William Faulkner, performed by Winston Tharp
23:23 – 39:31 – Five Poems by Ezra Pound, performed by Alan Weyman
39:31 – 52:55 – Seven Poems by Richard Aldington, performed by Patrick Wallace
52:55 – 58:18 – Seven Poems by H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), performed by Elizabeth Klett
58:18 1:10:28 – Seven Poems by Amy Lowell, performed by Cate Barratt
1:10:28 – 1:22:36 – Eighteen Poems by William Carlos Williams, performed by Bob Gonzalez

Although the label of imagist can justifiably be applied to each of these poets, their styles are distinct and personal. Eliot and Pound are famous poetic voices in their own right – celebrated today as distinctive personalities rather than as members of a school of poetry. Faulkner and Christie became famous for their respective efforts in narrative fiction, but their inclusion in this anthology demonstrates that elevation of language over structure that the imagists sought to promote. Aldington and Dolittle, who had a long and agonizing personal relationship, are primarily known today as representatives of the Imagist school. As their styles lend themselves readily to imitation, and even parody, and can thus appear quite dated, they never attained the iconic status of Eliot, Pound, Yeats, Auden and other popular Twentieth Century poets. Amy Lowell, the Maecenas of the Imagist movement, was initially a protege of Pound, who later fell out with her, and publicly abandoned the imagist style for a new style that he termed Vorticist. Lowell described her work as “polyphonic prose” and many of her poems have a compelling sinuous flow that owes nothing to convolutions of metre. William Carlos Williams was, at first, a close associate of Pound and Dolittle, but later attracted strong criticism from them as he strove to create a distinctly idiomatic American style of versification. Williams’ capacity to create spellbinding images from common language – perhaps the most famous example is the “red wheelbarrow” – places him apart from the brash and extravagant cleverness that Pound and Eliot liked to display.
While imagist poetry contains many hot-house flowers which were destined to fade quickly, the movement had a profound influence on the development of poetic expression. Here, perhaps for the first time in Western poetic tradition, the fall of a leaf may be equated with the fall of an empire. Here, feeling is more important than argument, and satisfaction is more important than justification. The cosmos is what the individual perceives it to be: explanation is unnecessary. For the imagist, learning takes a back seat: experience is everything.

The listener is invited to relax and surrender to the captivating verbal harmonies crated by these pioneering poets. In their explorations they sought to liberate the music hidden within language, and thus opened up a brave new world of poetic expression.


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