Friday, January 28, 2011
The Perfect Equation
In a Station of the Metro
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
Pound shared some of his thoughts behind the creation of this poem:
“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 splotches of colour.” (Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir 1916; London: New Directions, 1960): 86-89).
The idea of an ‘equation’ makes me think about how language, when referring to emotion or image, is a kind of translation. But Pound is speaking about ‘equation’ here. These words = this emotion. Getting that equation right, is where all the work lies. The poet cannot rest until the perfect equation of words is found.
Or sometimes it is sudden. “I was still trying and I found, suddenly, the expression .” I love how Pound used the word ‘suddenly’ and how he was able to cut through all the excess in language to see the ‘splotches of colour’ that perfectly equated with the image or emotion he experienced earlier in the day.
What are the poems or books you return to again and again for inspiration?
Poetry Friday Roundup is here.