Name given to a movement in poetry, originating in 1912 and
represented by Ezra Pound, Amy Lowell, and others, aiming at clarity
of expression through the use of precise visual images. In the early
period often written in the French form Imagisme.
A group of American and English poets whose poetic
program was formulated about 1912 by Ezra Pound--in
conjunction with fellow poets Hilda Doolittle (H.D.), Richard
Aldington, and F.S. Flint--and was inspired by the critical views of
T.E. Hulme, in revolt against the careless thinking and
Romantic optimism he saw prevailing.
The Imagists wrote succinct verse of dry clarity and hard outline in
which an exact visual image made a total poetic statement. Imagism was
a successor to the French Symbolist movement, but, whereas
Symbolism had an affinity with music, Imagism sought analogy with
sculpture. In 1914 Pound turned to Vorticism, and Amy Lowell largely
took over leadership of the group. Among others who wrote Imagist
poetry were John Gould Fletcher and Harriet Monroe; and Conrad Aiken,
Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, D.H. Lawrence, and T.S. Eliot were
influenced by it in their own poetry.
The four Imagist anthologies (Des Imagistes, 1914; Some Imagists,
1915, 1916, 1917), and the magazines Poetry (from 1912) and The Egoist
(from 1914), in the United States and England, respectively, published
the work of a dozen Imagist poets.
From an Imagist manifesto:
1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ the exact
word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.
2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better
expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new
cadence means a new idea.
3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.
4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we
believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in
vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this
reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real
difficulties of his art.
5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor
6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very
essence of poetry.