Imagism

Imagism was a movement in early-20th-century Anglo-American poetry that favored precision of imagery and clear, sharp language. It gave modernism its first start, and is considered to be the first organized modernist literary movement in the English language.[1] Imagism is sometimes viewed as "a succession of creative moments" rather than a continuous or sustained period of development. René Taupin remarked that "it is more accurate to consider Imagism not as a doctrine, nor even as a poetic school, but as the association of a few poets who were for a certain time in agreement on a small number of important principles".[2]

The expatriate American poet Ezra Pound collected eleven poets in the first anthology of Imagist poetry, Des Imagistes (1914). (Pound photographed in 1913)

The Imagists rejected the sentiment and discursiveness typical of Romantic and Victorian poetry. In contrast to the contemporary Georgian poets, who were generally content to work within that tradition, Imagists called for a return to more Classical values, such as directness of presentation, economy of language, and a willingness to experiment with non-traditional verse forms; Imagists used free verse. A characteristic feature of the form is its attempt to isolate a single image to reveal its essence. This mirrors contemporary developments in avant-garde art, especially Cubism. Although these poets isolate objects through the use of what Ezra Pound called "luminous details", Pound's ideogrammic method of juxtaposing concrete instances to express an abstraction is similar to Cubism's manner of synthesizing multiple perspectives into a single image.[3]

Imagist publications appearing between 1914 and 1917 featured works by many of the most prominent modernist figures in poetry and other fields, including Pound, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Amy Lowell, Ford Madox Ford, William Carlos Williams, F. S. Flint, and T. E. Hulme. The Imagists were centered in London, with members from Great Britain, Ireland and the United States. Somewhat unusually for the time, a number of women writers were major Imagist figures.