Ezra Pound was one of the expatriates, disillusioned with the world and with the sort of nationalism that had led so many countries into a devastating and senseless war. The expatriates sought to explore their own artistic work, to challenge the nature of their work, and, in many cases (certainly in the case of Pound), to "make it new." In this poem, Pound explores his devotion to art by creating two alter-egos to review his own career and his beliefs about his own art, poetry.
The mood of this poem is negative, disillusioned. As the speaker outlines the attempt to "resuscitate the dead art/
Of poetry", he alludes to both the temptuous travels of Odysseus and the horrors of WWI. There is a feeling of being lost. The tone is self-depracating and critical. The first stanza oulines the goals of the speaker as being "Wrong from the start". Near the end, the second alter-ego quotes: “I was/“And I no more exist;/“Here drifted/“An hedonist.” Again, the tone is critical and the feeling left is a sense of uselessness.
The diction in this poem, as in all of Pound's, is concrete. Despite the use of allusions, there is little symbolism developed and a lack of flowery or overly-descriptive passages. Pound, like many of the artists of the time, was a minimalist, removing all but the most necessary words from his work. He uses free verse and avoids traditional poetic diction.