“In a Station of the Metro”
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
— Ezra Pound
To me, this poem is the epitome of English-language Imagist poems, perfectly expressing the conceptual framework of the haiku.
I often think on “In the Station of the Metro” in a more literal fashion during plum season. The beauty of cherry blossoms lies in their fleeting, delicate nature, but I prefer the plum blossom for its relative hardiness, brighter coloration, and intoxicating fragrance. They survive Kanazawa’s rainstorms and snow storms and the erratic ebb and flow of the early spring weather. Seeing “petals on a wet, black bough” each year takes me right back to reading and rereading this poem back in high school.
I loved the unease of the image, its historical significance. I love how Pound could say in two lines what most couldn’t say in 20. There are plenty of other poems from which I remember bits and piece, for the imagery (“the moon in the window”) or the sentiment (“dared and done”) or the way the words felt to say (“fell cleverly to make me fall”), but I may love Pound’s the best.