On Ezra Pound's In A Station Of The Metro -- A Coursera ModPo Forum Post

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ORIGINAL POEM

Hi [NAME REDACTED],

I'm going to work backwards from your post. And maybe you've got different ideas post videos.

I'm going to copy/paste the manifesto:

  • Direct treatment of the “thing," whether subjective or objective.
  • To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.
  • As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of the metronome. 

So it's not quite saying exactly what it is. It's direct treatment including subjective treatment. Well, that opens it up to pretty much everything, but by specifying the one "thing" it keeps it, at least, focused.

Do you live anywhere near a subway? Could you stand on a platform sometime--maybe 15 minutes--and watch the people? Don't follow them individually. Watch them as a whole. There on that underground platform. Perhaps, you'll visit a subway that has good lighting. Perhaps, you'll be on a platform with terrible lighting. 

We're lucky these days that--overall--transportation is better maintained than 100 years ago. What must that have been like in the dank tunnels of Paris? Would it have been like in that industrial city? Could it have been a colorful peach? I just did a Google image search for Paris Metro 1900. I recommend it. I also found [this image] "This postcard of line 6's Pasteur station in the first decade of the métro's operation shows how insufficient the lighting was. The famous beveled white tile is nevertheless clearly visible."

So then, that brings us back to that bough... such a dulcet word and yet wet and black as if decaying... Personally, I imagine that's what that subway must have been like. The beautify of French design (the print, the architecture, the art, the wonderful lines throughout) but submerged in an unventilated, humid, dark network of "branches" stretching forth. 

What would it have been like as a person? As a commuter to ride it every day as a necessary part of life? How much joy would there be on their faces? At what point would it wear them down? I used to live in NYC, and i can tell you, that after years of living like a mole person, it gets to you. When I visit and take the subway, the people just look beaten down as they wait to climb back into the sun. It seems to me to make sense then that those French riders appeared ghostly in the darkness.

I hope I was able to help you in your confusion.