Ezra Pound: Poems

Ezra Pound's Material Girl

In "Portrait d'une Femme," Ezra Pound examines the fragmented nature of the modern woman; cluttered with culture and accumulated intellect, her character exhibits mere parts of a whole that is both inscrutable and alluringly fascinating. Contrasting one feminine archetype, the radiant goddess, the mystifying siren, Pound's urban lady struggles to configure her identity within the swirling exoticism of art, beauty, knowledge, and elegance. Through brilliant use of extended metaphor, Pound presents the reader with the lady's ephemeral character; as his femme figuratively embodies the intellectual bric-a-brac of civilization, she thus personifies a static basin for the social currents of the modern world. Pound's poem thematically sustains one conclusive identification of this modern woman as "our Sargasso Sea" (Selected Poems of Ezra Pound, page 16 [line 1]). The author taints conventional imagery; in an ironic contrast to the ocean's typical life-giving symbolism, this female's stationary lifelessness parallels a select depository of the North Atlantic. Dense with floating, brown seaweed, she is a sterile collection of life's acquisitions.

Pound openly defines his leading lady as a...

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