Poetry Analysis: “In a Station of the Metro” by Ezra Pound

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Ezra Pound was a rebel and wanted to do things his way in regard to poetry – and so he did.  In the introduction of The Norton Anthology of American Literature (Volume D), it states:  “Pound first campaigned for ‘imagistic,’ his name for a new kind of poetry.  Rather than describing something – an object or situation – and then generalizing about it, imagist poets attempted to present the object directly, avoiding the ornate diction and complex but predictable verse forms of traditional poetry.”

Pound’s 1913 poem “In a Station of the Metro” demonstrates his imagistic motif in a couple of lines:

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

This short piece illustrates his imagistic talent because the entire poem deals with images alone.  It is not complex; rather, the two-line poem is straightforward and to the point.  The brevity of the poem intrigues with a deep message regarding the beauty and diversity of human beings.

One word that overshadows all the rest in line one is apparition.  The word apparition alone means a ghostly figure, something strange or unusual that suddenly comes into view.  Pound may have seen different faces in a Paris subway and defined the “faces in the crowd” with the illustration of pure beauty or images of flawless human beings.  The reason for formulating such assertion is because of this:  with the meaning and usage of the word apparition, it enables Pound to convey the expression of shock and awe once he steps into the metro station.  It’s almost as if he discovers the faces in the crowd surprisingly.  More important, he may have not seen the faces clearly and saw only a blur that he interpreted as a vision of attractiveness.

The second line of the poem renders one word that overshadows all the rest:  petals.  Petals are vibrant flowers that have different colors and represent beauty when blossomed, which he identifies as the “faces in the crowd.”  Additionally, petals are flowers that come in various shades, sizes, shapes, and so forth – akin to human beings.  Therefore, Pound perhaps envisioned the people in the crowd as beautiful, for the diversity they embodied.

In all, the poem is incredibly short – but meaningful – and takes the meaning of short poetry to its purest form.  However, the images are captivating and make the poem move beyond the literal, for the two images that stand out are apparition and petals.  When one thinks of apparition, the first thing that comes to mind is a ghostly figure.  When one thinks of petals, something soft and delightful comes to mind as a floral.

Thus, Pound takes the two words and morphs them together as one to get a greater effect, meaning that when he witnessed mysterious faces in the crowd with various colors and shapes, it rendered a good-looking sight in his eyes.  The poem shows that whatever color, size, or shape a person embodies, he or she still has some characteristics of beauty – regardless of his/her outer appearance.
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[Originally Written January 18, 2008]

The Mentality of White Supremacists

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We will continue to shoot and kill Black people, because we truthfully view your existence as a threat to our society.  We view your lives as a cancer to not only America but humanity.  When we shoot, we will shoot to execute without any hesitation – for we are gods.  We are the decision-makers on whether you live or die – and the latter takes priority.  We hold the ultimate gavel.  We will not only shoot you one time, two times, three times but more than four times to ensure that you are dead.   We will watch your body spasm in distress.  We will watch you suffer as you take your last breath.  We will watch the blood vessels in your eye sockets engulf your vision until darkness becomes permanent.  We will watch blood escape your undeserving body that allowed you to function as an organism.  We will be erected firmly above your body with guns drawn until we are certain that every organ in your body shuts down.

Your loss neither moves us emotionally nor does it pain us.  We have zero empathy for your lives and feelings.  We joyfully watch your families on television as their tears flow uncontrollably.  We watch you reminisce about the good times while you are consoled.  We have finalized that physical bond.  When more opportunities present themselves, we will continue to finalize those bonds, whether you show compliance or not.  We will leave you with the lasting memory of caskets of your sons and daughters.

We will hire lawyers to argue that our lives were in danger, giving us no choice but to use deadly force.  We will lie and fabricate plausible stories, for we know our tongues hold more weight than yours.  We will provide a false narrative to the media, for we are the creation and ownership of facts.  We will focus on your past criminal record and maintain you have a history of violence.  If need be, we will excavate your elementary-school records to show any punishments that resulted from disobedience to further push the narrative of criminality.

If we are brought to trial, we will make sure that the jury is dominated by white faces.  At the end of the day, we will go home to our wives and children. We will WALK FREE and maintain our freedom, while Black families remain shock at a criminal justice system that always favored white – but never cared for your pain and plight.

The relentless assault on your suffering will be advertised nationwide.  When you turn on the television, cable-news anchors will argue how the facts show that the killings were justified.  We will employ and invite adequate Black faces to fight on our behalf – and criticize Black society for its misfortunes with authority. We will find the most menacing photographs to televise while we blame both you and them for their demise.  Because we control the media, we control the message.  We will attack you on all fronts, for we are the ownership of mass media.

When you scream “Black Lives Matter,” we will scream “all lives matter,” even though we know the system allows us to kill you with impunity.  When you cry “Black Lives Matter,” we will deflect and inquire about Black-on-Black crimes when we know it has no correlation to police-involved shootings.  When you question the criminal justice system, we will argue that the system is fair to everyone.  We will do everything and anything to justify our positions.  We will relentlessly lie until we naturally believe our own lies.  We will divert the conversation and put the blame on you every time.

You will have no choice but to pray to God, sing hymns, and forgive us for our crimes and sins. We demand that you forgive us, forgive us, forgive us – and love us and move on by accepting the ruling of the courts. More important, we demand that you have sympathy for our families during our trying times of recovery.

We will be fired and banned from joining another trigger-happy department.  However, we are a team; when we are sent home, we have enough soldiers to continue the work of harassment and violence.  We will provide special attention and harass you everywhere: on the sidewalk, on school campuses, in the park, in the workplace, inside your car, inside your houses, and everywhere you make a presence.

We do not care if you are educated with various college degrees.  We do not care if you are sickened with a disease.  We do not care if your ensemble resembles a three-piece suit.  We do not care if your ensemble resembles a baggy jean, a baseball cap, and chukka boots.  We do not care if you are a Black man or a Black woman – let alone if you are accompanied by your children.  It does not matter if you look suspicious or not; we will stop you, interrogate you, and antagonize you. If you become fidgety or belligerent, we will brutalize you.

We will infiltrate all of your organizations with Black operatives until they implode to nonexistence.

We want you to be devoid of self-preservation, self-respect – and self-pride. We expect you to be docile like chained dogs.  Anything that does not meet complete subjugation and compliance will be met with violence.

We work together as a team, directly and indirectly; we are ubiquitous.

We are professors at your colleges and universities.  We are managers at your workplace.   We are the CEOs at your corporations.  We are the pimp-preachers at your churches.  We are owners and executives of the major-professional-sports teams in your cities.  We are your politicians.  We are the unseen lens.  We are an institution; call it a conglomerate of endless entities.  We are everywhere, for we are a system of white dominance – and white supremacy.

Poetry Analysis: “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks

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“We Real Cool” definitely has a powerful message behind it.  Gwendolyn Brooks illustrates the essence of troubled teenagers who will eventually suffer the ill-fated possibility that life renders human beings while engaging in the lifestyle of the streets – death.

The teenagers are obviously not too fond about attending school.  Therefore, they skip and find solace and pleasure at a pool facility.  It seems as if the teenagers really don’t care about their education and go day by day living a happy-go-lucky lifestyle.  The happiness that they are feeling by playing pool supports that theory.

They sing.  They drink.  They ignore the seriousness of life and their future.  In all, they do anything to capture that feeling of ecstasy.  A nonchalant attitude about the players’ personas clearly resonates throughout the poem.

The constant usage of the word “We” may indicate that these boys are proclaiming their arrival at the pool facility as if they have been there before.  The bottom line is apparent:  The seven young men find their comfort at the poolroom, rather than school.

For the most part, the tone of the poem is very upbeat, while simultaneously presenting a dark atmosphere.  The entertainment the boys are engaging in presents happiness. However, the actions of the boys present bleakness with the placements of the words “Lurk late,” “Sing sin,” and “Thin gin.”

These words carry unpleasant meanings.  “Lurk” implies sneakiness with the intent of doing something wrong. “Sin” implies a moral and/or criminal wrongdoing. Being that these boys are street people, it is safe to argue that criminal activities may occur via “lurk[ing] late” at night.  “Gin,” an alcoholic beverage, is not an unpleasant term; however, in the context of the poem, it implies that these boys are drinking heavily (via “Thin”) and could possibly become intoxicated, causing an unpleasant outcome.

The unpleasant tone of the poem amplifies dramatically at the end with the following statement:  “We die soon.”  This one line alone does not only present a chilling end but firmly cements their future.

In a more in depth analysis of the final line (which refers to death), the subtitle of the poem states:  THE POOL PLAYERS.  SEVEN AT THE GOLDEN SHOVEL.  The number “seven” has the aura of good fortune while the boys shoot pool.  Moreover, the word “golden” typifies prosperity and happiness, akin to how the boys are feeling.  However, the word “shovel” signifies an ominous sign, relating to death, casket, funeral and later burial.  Brooks implies that street people will eventually die soon.  These young boys are obviously street people because they are not in school.

They live a carefree life and they could not care less about attending school, because they find it tedious.  They lack the presence of mind to grasp the importance of what school offers at the moment and how beneficial it would serve them in the future.  Such carefree mindset will present difficulties as these young boys seek employment.

Their lives have no direction and they don’t really care about anything – not even their wellbeing for the future.  They have no sense of themselves and are not aware of the importance of education, which will sooner or later become their downfall.

Their poor decision serves them no advantages in any way, because they will not be active participants in society.  Without a high school diploma, their journey to find a decent job will be limited.  Such difficulty may possibly turn the boys into criminals to obtain easy money.

Moreover, these young men are clearly dropouts and perhaps Black, supported by the lingo of the poem.  In fact, the title, “We Real Cool,” breaks the rule of proper English because it presents a slang dialect.

Even though the poem was written in 1960, it mirrors the situation of today, for many young boys and even young girls skip school every day – not to mention those who dropout.

Gwendolyn Brooks does an excellent job with this piece.  With its monosyllabic and eight-line stature, the poem is short, straightforward, and to the point.

“We Real Cool” represents an impressive piece that has a profound implication:  No education (i.e., skipping an institution of schooling that provides knowledge) and living a carefree lifestyle as a dropout will most likely lead to an unfortunate end – death.