Peter McDonald

Faces in the Crowd

The Verse Revolutionaries: Ezra Pound, H D and the Imagists


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As the revolution business goes, being a ‘verse revolutionary’ would seem one of the less risky career paths. Nobody gets hurt, and the principal actions called for are strenuous journalism and the pushing out of books and poems. In the years before the First World War, when revolutionary forces were building in the politics of Europe and beyond, a revolution in the writing of English poetry was a comparatively unpressing matter; and, if such a revolution did in fact take place, it was not widely noticed (and not, arguably, all that easy to spot). After the War, anyone taking an interest in English poetry might have seen that things were changing, but few would have considered themselves witnesses to out-and-out cataclysm, however puzzling they might find the verses of the young Mr Eliot or his outlandish compatriot, Ezra Pound.

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