Thursday 29 October 2015



Colour print of a finely-dressed Japanese woman holding a lantern at night, admiring the plum blossoms.


On the Underground today, travelling East under London to the British Psychological Society offices, I recalled Ezra Pound’s 1913 poem:

Faces on the Metro, White petals on a black bough.

Mis-recalled, as it turns out, in that I conflated the title with the 14 word poem itself. Here are the actual words:

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Including the title brings the original work to 20 words, which seems verbose for Imagist verse. My long-remembered, mangled and compressed version is only 10. Dropping the contrasting white on black image brings it down to 9, but loses the allusion to Chinese art, from which Pound drew inspiration. Perhaps “wet” needs to be retained, for explanatory reasons if nothing else.

This is a day for personal and happy reflection, so brevity is apposite.

Near Tabernacle Street I had a look at  John Wesley’s house on the City Road, just by the chapel where he is entombed.  The story, probably apocryphal, is that at an open air sermon he was giving on the Day of Judgment someone in the vast crowd called out: “If tomorrow was the day of judgment, what would you do?” He replied: “Sir, I would carry out my engagements”.


  1. "In a Station of the Metro": is that an allusion to the Stations of the Cross?

  2. Ah yes, "apparition" is a Resurrection allusion, perhaps?

    "Wet, black bow": is the cross a bit far-fetched as a putative allusion?

    I'd be more confident were it Toilets rather than Pound.

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