Ezra Pound has defined poetry in The Wisdom of Poetry. It has artistic purpose which Dante advocated-
“That melody which most doth draw
The soul into itself.”
The primary function of poetry is to evocate melody. It was thought and propagated by Pound. Pound himself wrote different poems which appealed musically to the people. Thus, poetry is something which appeals to our senses in a way that we feel dragged by the artist in form of a poet. ‘Melody’ is soothing because it has variation of quality, stress and sound. Three kinds of poetry have been refereed by Pound in How to Read. In ‘Melopoeia’ music aspect of a poem has been highlighted-
“wherein the words are charged, over and above their plain meaning, with some musical property which directs the bearing or trend of that meaning.”1
The purpose of such kind of art is liberation however; it is different from other forms of art. Pound’s observation is actually influenced by Spinoza as he remarks-
“the function of art is to free the intellect from the tyranny of the affects, or, leaning or terms, neither technical nor metaphysical: the function of an art is to strengthen the perceptive faculties and free them from encumbrance, such encumbrances, for instance, as set moods, set ideas, conventions: from the results of experience which is common but unnecessary, experience induced by the stupidity of the experience and not by inevitable laws of nature.”2
Thus, it becomes clear that Pound asserts a kind of liberating influence of poetry as a kind of art. His interests in Japanese grotesque forms, Greek sculptures reveal his aesthetic sensibility and sound knowledge of the fine arts. Pound conveys the message that poetry is different from other arts in sense of media. Poetic diction is different from pigment, paint and brush-
“it shares its media with music in so far as words are composed of inarticulate sounds.”3
It is one of the reasons that Poetry appeals to the whole community. It is good for the society. Ezra Pound is concerned passionately and vitally with the betterment of the society. It is correlated to the functions of a poet in a particular society. For a poet no society is particular because his creations are universal which can be applied to any society. Pound remarks that-
“Thought is perhaps important to the race, and language, the medium of thought’s preservation, is constantly wearing out. It has been the function of poets to new-mint the speech, to supply the vigorous terms for prose.”4
Thus the role of the poet becomes very important because he purifies the dialect of the tribe. Pound is also of the view that poets are like ‘conservators of the public speech’. When there was the age of faith then poets were considered as founder of all the religions. They turned to be the final agnostic in ages of doubt. A philosopher and a poet both are skeptical towards truth yet there are differences between them. A poet presents truth ‘thrice removed from reality’. It is platonic understanding of reality and poetry. A philosopher presents a typical truth if he thinks that it is actually a truth. Thus, he impersonates the truth in a way that seems complicated yet real. Plato’s concept of truth is idealistic whereas Pound’s approach to present it is realistic. Thus we can say that Pound practices a theory of realistic idealism. Plato is concerned about the ingredients of truth and Pound follows the words of Polonius who says ‘ to thine own self be true’. It is significant because it has been said by Polonius. Here role of personality comes into existence. It can be simplified with an example. Mahatma Gandhi advocated the theory of non violence and that is why it became important. It was so popular that whenever we hear non violence we are reminded about Gandhi ji. Thus, it becomes significant that the poet or an artist shares his soul with many others. Pound views the ancient ages as the period of faith. Later periods were the periods of doubt because there were continuous struggle between religion and science. Pound considers the present age as the period of intellectual crisis because ideologies are shifted and ideals are dissolved rapidly. This is one of the reasons that the values of poets are also changing. It is actually a chain of demand and supply which ends at the aesthetic pleasure.
1. T.S. Eliot(ed). Literary Essays of Ezra Pound-( Faber&Faber, London, 1954), p.25.
2.William Cookson(ed), Selected Prose-( Faber&Faber, London, 1978), p.330.