EZRA POUND AND WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS’S ROMANTIC DILEMMAS From Obliteration to Remanence
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AbstractWilliams’s respective projections of tradition, which are powerfully evidenced in the ambivalent relations they establish with their immediate predecessors. Whereas both American poets start out advocating a specifically American tradition—to be uncovered or made up—as well as a specifically American form for the poem, they do not seem willing to acknowledge American influences and they direct their readers toward Asia or Europe for poetic sources. Simultaneously they lay emphasis on the need for radical innovation and a break from the modes of Romanticism, which in their essays, they mock at leisure. This has led to the very notion of a Modernist age, indeed opened up by such poets as Pound and Williams, one which, according to Marjorie Perloff in 21 st-Century Modernism, is not yet over. One would however be tempted to expand Perloff’s outlook and question the idea of a wholly new era to begin in the 1910s, especially as one tries to read through the layers of the Modernist intertext to its poetic claims of didacticism, commitment and intellectual leadership.