A contrast or discrepancy between what is said and what is meant or between what happens and what is expected to happen in life and in literature. In verbal irony, characters say the opposite of what they mean. In irony of circumstance or situation, the opposite of what is expected occurs. In dramatic irony, a character speaks in ignorance of a situation or event known to the audience or to the other characters. Flannery O'Connor's short stories employ all these forms of irony, as does Poe's "Cask of Amontillado."
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic and a major figure in the early modernist movement in poetry. He became known for his role in developing Imagism, which, in reaction to the Victorian and Georgian poets, favored tight language, unadorned imagery, and a strong correspondence between the verbal and musical qualities of the verse and the mood it expressed. His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), and his unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos, which consumed his middle and late career, and was published between 1917 and 1969.
Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho Territory, the only child of Homer ... more » Click here to add this poet to your My Favorite Poets.
Admit it: you secretly want to be the kind of sensitive soul that memorizes poetry. But where to begin? Right here, folks. Two lines. One, two. Voila . Oh, plus the title. So three lines. If your friends don’t know anything about poetry, you can even pretend that you’re reciting from a longer poem, but that you don’t want to bore them with the whole thing. Plus, it’s Ezra Pound , so it’s not just any poem you’re memorizing; it’s "difficult," "modern" poetry. It has mysterious-sounding words like "apparition" and "bough" in it.
Selfish reasons aside, this poem is also extremely important in the history of modern literature. It is one of the monuments of the artistic movement known as "Imagism," one of the many, many "-isms" that came and went at the beginning of the 20th century. Basically, Pound and his friends were sick of people using images as ornaments to "decorate" their writing and make themselves sound smarter.
Pound thought that images weren’t just decoration: they were the highest form of speech. By finding the right image, the poet can reveal the true, spiritual reality of a thing, which is more important than using a bunch of adjectives to describe its physical appearance. Thus, "In a Station of the Metro" is a poem that consists of one image expressed with absolute precision and nothing else. If this poem were an Olympic sharpshooter, it would earn a gold medal.
To the Imagists, the best way to capture an experience is not to use more and more words; no, the best way is to pull your hair out to find exactly the right words, which means using as few of them as possible. Have you ever told a boyfriend or girlfriend that "words can’t express" how much you love them? Well, Ezra Pound would say that you’re just being lazy. In his view, words can express anything, even, as in the case of this poem, if it takes an entire year to find the right words.