The Allen Ginsberg Project: Mind Mouth & Page – 23 (Pound and the Vernacular)

So Pound, being a great scholar, went to find all the parallels in history where there was a transition from an official, or archaic, or classical, prosody and tongue and language to a popular language. There are other times in history when this has happened, and those have been times of great growth and creation of new forms. So he went, as I mentioned before, toSextus Propertius, who had made the transition from the Greek dance rhythms, (bringing) Greek dance rhythms into Latin verse. (He) made use of the treasury of Greek dance rhythms to get Latin verse hopped up a little and get it out of the heavy-handed mold that it was in, a heavy-mouthed mold. He went to Chinese, because he realized that the English language and the American language were subject to such abstractions – the language itself was”Tmore subject to abstraction and conditioned thought than hieroglyphic language(s), in which each word is a picture. So that in his essay on “The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry“, (Pound) notes on notes of a professor, Ernest Fenollosa, who had done that kind of study.
(Fenollosa) pointed out that we have the word “red” – R-E-D – Now, we’re conditioned to see red when we hear red. In Chinese, the word “red” is a combination (of the) hieroglyph of rust, a flamingo’s neck, a sun setting behind a tree, and maybe something else. In other words, pictures that carry the actual red instead of the abstract word, “R-E-D”. And so it was out of that study that he got to the ideas of Imagism, that is, that it should be primarily (a) visual image.
And he pointed out that poetry had always been a combination of three basic elements –phanopoeia – the casting of a visual image on the mind’s eye – melopoeia – the tone-leading of vowels, or the melody of vowels with tones and with lengths of vowels, or the vocalization part, melody, including rhythm somewhat – and logopoeia or the wittiness of the words, the funniness of the words, or, as he said, “the dance of the intellect among words”. So there’s the intellectual logopoeia, there’s the melopoeia, which is a song, and there is the phanopoeia, which is the picture part.

The Allen Ginsberg Project: Mind Mouth & Page – 23 (Pound and the Vernacular): [Ezra Pound 1885-1972] Allen’s 1975 lecture (that we’ve been serializing) continues. More on Ezra Pound . AG: Ok. We need a whole course…

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