POUND’S ACCOUNT OF HOW 30 LINES WERE REDUCED TO TWO (OR 3). Mary Jane and I were each surprised to find out from Spiegelman that Pound had started his poem with 30 lines and then cut it severely. I found Pound’s account of how this happened here.
Pound explains that the poem came from a moment when he had intense feelings about beautiful faces he had seen: “Three years ago in Paris I got out of a ‘metro’ train at La Concorde, and saw suddenly a beautiful face, and then another and another, and then a beautiful child’s face, and then another beautiful woman, and I tried all that day to find words for what this had meant to me, and I could not find any words that seemed to me worthy, or as lovely as that sudden emotion.”
Pound thought that the appropriate way to capture the particualar emotion would be through color—through painting. In the event, Pound said, “I wrote a thirty-line poem, and destroyed it because it was what we call work ‘of second intensity.’ Six months later I made a poem half that length; a year later I made the following hokku-like sentence: —
“The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals, on a wet, black bough.”