The influence of Pound’s Sincerity and Objectification on Reznikoff
Ezra Pound had a deep impact on Charles Reznikoff and other objectivist poets. Louis Zukofsky, in his essay, “Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff,” details the manner in which Pound, and other earlier modernists, established the basis for which the objectivists originated. Using Zukofsky’s theory, there are many instances in which influence from former generations can be ascertained in Reznikoff’s work.
Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” is a prime example of an objectivist pre-cursor poem. The sincerity of Pound’s verse directly impacts the reader’s perception of subject matter. Sincerity, according to Zukofsky, is when “shapes appear concomitants of word combinations, precursors of (if there is a continuance) completed sound or structure, melody or form… Shapes suggest themselves, and the mind senses and receives awareness” (273). Shapes are rampant in Pound’s Metro. Words like “Petals,” “Faces,” and “Bough” (Pound 318) all suggest themselves and other things. Petals have stems, faces have bodies, and a bough connects to roots that migrate in many areas. This is a trait Reznikoff continues further in “A Group of Verse.” In his first stanza Rezinkoff uses words like “God,” “Pavement,” and “Room” (252) which are all indicators of things with bigger structure: using “God” invokes a connotation of religion that resonates with all readers in a simultaneous shared and differing way; “Pavement” implies road with is a connect bridge of transport within the structures of humanity; and a “Room” is always a section of a bigger building.
Objectivism is also apparent in the works of Pound, leading to their creation in Reznikoff. Zukofsky defines objectification in the following:
This rested totality may be called objectification – the apprehension satisfied completely as to the appearance of the art form as an object. That is: distinct from print, which records action and existence and incites the mind to further suggestion, there exists, tho it may not be harbored as solidity in the crook of an elbow, writing (audibility in two dimensional print) which is an object or affects the mind as such. (274).
Zukofsky elaborates and describes the process as the creation of a unit through minor units of sincerity, ending with “the resolving or words and their ideation into structure” (274). The produced aesthetic Pound’s Metro makes, allows the poem to become more of an actual train station than it is two dimensional print. When Pound writes: “The apparition of these faces in the crowd;/ Petals on a wet, black bough.” (318) he connects concepts such as “Petals,” “Faces,” and “Bough” together to create an apparition from the crowd that is synonymous to the object of discussion the poem is and becomes. The six stanzas of Reznikoff’s “A Group of Verse” accomplishes a similar feat. Reznikoff begins with the conceptual “God” in the first stanza, progressing to the almost tactile “flies” and “beetles” of the final line in the final, sixth stanza. The resulting aesthetic is an image of a community that is both grand and small, that encompasses minor concerns and major thoughts, a place that endorses faith and stares into the darkness.
Pound, Ezra. “In a Station of the Metro.” The Norton Anthology of American Literature. Volume D. 8th. Crawfordsville: W.W. Norton & Company, 2012. 318. Print.
Reznikoff, Charles. “A Group of Verse.” Ed. Louis Zukofsky. Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. Objectivists 1931 37.5 (1931): 252-253. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 2/15/16.
Zukofsky, Louis. “Sincerity and Objectification: With Special Reference to the Work of Charles Reznikoff.” A Magazine of Verse. Objectivists 1931 37.5 (1931): 272-285. Poetry Foundation. Poetry Foundation. Web. 2/15/16.