Several of the imagist poets used war as a theme of their poems and sometimes of their entire collections. One of the most dominant uses of this theme is Aldington’s Images of War, in which the poet relates his personal experiences in the trenches of World War I. This collection also includes poems that he wrote after the war, poems in which he uses a cynical tone to mark his disgust of societies that allow war to occur in the first place. The poem “The Lover,” which appeared in this volume, is one of the most prominent poems in this collection. It brings together an interesting mix of his fears as well as the sexual desires that he experienced during the war.
Pound’s Cathay is also based on the theme of war. Although Pound wrote these poems from translations of Li Po, an eighth-century poet from China, the original poems focused on war, a timely concern of Pound’s, as the effects of World War I were influencing his thoughts.
Male poets were not the only ones who were affected by the war. Many of Doolittle’s poems in her collection Sea Garden engage images of pain, suffering, and desolation. Some critics relate these images to the ravages of war felt by the entire population, including those who were left at home. Doolittle was married to Aldington at the time he served on the front lines and thus felt the full impact not only of her personal fears and sense of loss but also of Aldington’s suffering. Many of the poems in Flint’s Otherworld: Cadences also portray the devastation of World War I. In fact, he dedicated this work to his fellow poet Aldington because he was well aware of the effect that the war was having on his friend.
Sense of Place
Flint, who lived all of his life in or near London, has many times been referred to as the poet of London. He grew up in the streets of this city and knew the sounds and smells and colors so well that they permeated his poetry. His love of the city was not always an easy one, however, as espoused in some of his writings, such as his poem “Courage,” in which he awakens every day and hopes for the strength to face the city one more time without whining. On a lighter note is his “To a Young Lady Who Moved Shyly among Men of Reputed Worth,” written quickly at a dinner party in London. The original version of this poem did not meet the tenets of Imagism, so Flint rewrote it and titled it “London.” In this form, it has become one of Flint’s most admired poems.
John Gould Fletcher returned to his childhood home in...
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