Ezra Pound’s emphasis on the “Image” in poetry seems to border on idolatry. Much of my own poetry in the past has spent a great deal of time on abstractions, which I think is one of its shortcomings. Concrete imagery, as well as writing only what one means and connecting every word one writes into the poem are what make a poem noteworthy. Pound writes that “An ‘Image’ is that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.” As poets, we strive to leave with our readers an impression of emotion, because they’re never going to remember individual words or an expertly placed line break. The music of the poem aids in the reverberation of the images we present, but I think Pound holds the “Image” in such high regard because it is what bridges the emotion of the piece from poet to reader.
Taking on the task of representing grand abstractions is, I think, better left for pop song writers. I’ve tried in the past to write about time and love and beauty and colonization, but instead of presenting these concepts through images like Pound might have me do, I have attempted to make them universal by allowing them to remain abstract. However, individual experiences and specific events, as I am coming to understand more and more, are themselves universal and relatable.
Pound is also often quoted for his piece of advice: “make it new.” Emotions and discoveries have been felt and found before, so when we recycle our images into poetry, we might strive to aim for a freshly specific spin on our (collective) experience.