Spring’s breath

April 2 2017

I’ve missed two days. Sigh. Friday was busy busy busy; Saturday I was in the doldrums. I attribute my state mainly to feeling too frazzled after a long week, not to any atmospheric shifts.

On my run today I was thinking about Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro”:
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

I’ve told my students the story of how long it took for Pound to find the concision and density he wanted:

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 by my metro emotion.

I wrote a thirty-line poem and destroyed it because it was what we call work of the second intensity. Six months later I made a poem half that length; a year later [1912] I made the following hokku-like sentence:

“The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals, on a wet, black bough.”

In other words. In other words, it took Pound 18 months to make the poem we know today, that takes us from metro station–a peopled and high tech image–to the incredibly abstract and simultaneously concrete petals. What kind of petals? What kind of tree? We don’t need to know anything more.

Today’s poem – well, I don’t have 18 months for it. It’s just another imperfect poem, reminding me of what it feels like to make images.


—A photo I took in the arb Thursday morning. I’m fascinated by logs, dead trees, fungus.

Spring’s Breath

Spring blooms crocus and grape
hyacinth, peeks of color, promising
rebirth, just like every damn spring.

Damp dewy logs sprout polypores,
blooming shelves, shapes that promise
that from one death comes new ecosystems.

addendum: oh the stories those logs and fungi could tell!


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