Ezra Pound Poetry: American Poets Analysis
In 1926, Ezra Pound took the title of his third collection of verse, Personae, as the title for his collected shorter poems, which complicated his bibliography but afforded his readers a valuable cue. Persona in Latin means “mask,” and in the 1909 Personae, there are a number of poems in which Pound takes on the persona, the mask, of an earlier poet and speaks in that poet’s voice. By calling his collected shorter poems Personae, Pound indicates that this device of the persona, far from being confined to a single volume, is central to his poetry.
Thus Pound’s personality is not directly expressed in his poetry; it is found almost nowhere in his work. This clashes strongly with the Romantic notion that poetry is the expression of a poet’s personality. One could say that, for Pound, poetry is the expression of someone else’s personality. Pound’s choice of personae, however, is never haphazard, and his own sensibility and voice come through in the choice of the persona. In Pound’s best works, the mask that the poet assumes is a perfect fit: The original speaker is rendered so expertly that readers can take the poem as their own and see Pound as merely a poetic midwife; yet the reader can also view the poem as Pound’s through and through and see the original speaker as a mask that Pound has donned for the occasion.
It should be easy to see how this poetic of the persona is also a poetic of...
(The entire section is 4097 words.)
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