Anti-traditional Conception of Sex in Pound's Coitus Essay

Anti-traditional Conception of Sex in Pound's Coitus Essay

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Anti-traditional Conception of Sex in Pound's "Coitus"

 
Critics have been fascinated and often baffled by Ezra Pound's shifting poetic style, which ranges from the profound simplicity of "In a Station of the Metro" to the complex intertextuality of the "Cantos." Pound's significance derives largely from his constant resolve to break traditional form and ideology, both literary and poetic. What is particularly unique about Pound, however, is that as he continually establishes precedence, he rarely abandons his thorough knowledge and appreciation of classical literature, drawing heavily from his literary and historical education in even his most groundbreaking works. "Coitus," one of Pound's early short works, exemplifies both his interest in the simple, efficient techniques of vorticism and his homage to the classics, interrelating them to create a statement that is unique and anti-traditional.

 

COITUS

The gilded phaloi of the crocuses

are thrusting at the spring air.

Here is there naught of dead gods

But a procession of festival,

 

A procession, O Giulio Romano,

Fit for your spirit to dwell in.

Dione, your nights are upon us.

The dew is upon the leaf.

The night about us is restless.

 

Although classical allusions and imagist influences are an essential part of "Coitus," it is the disturbingly stark sexual force that dominates its tone. However bluntly carnal the poem seems, it does not at any point explicitly mention sex, except in the unmistakable directness of the title. Pound renders his tone through a montage of classical allusions and phallic imagery which resemble the vorticistic Japanese haiku; the beginning and ending two lines share similarities with Pound's...


... middle of paper ...


...ion, yoking allusive fragments of western culture with elements of modern life. By combining the ancient with the new, Pound produces disturbing and sexually centered anachronisms that capitalize on the previous history of literature but also revolutionary modern theories; psychological, sexual and literary. As a whole, "Coitus" is an atom of knowledge, capable of splitting and exploding into far reaches of historical and literary realms, yet instantly and intriguingly disturbing for its modern sexual tone.

 

 

The following poems are borrowed from page 109 of Personae: The Collected Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound, 1926.

 

 

IN A STATION OF THE METRO

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;

Petals on a wet, black bough.

 

ALBA

As cool as the pale wet leaves

of lily-of-the-valley

She lay beside me in the dawn.

 

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