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Friday, February 04, 2005

I saw the title of this poem and read the footnote corresponding to the title and thought it would be interesting.

Ts'ai Chi'h

The petals fall in the fountain,
the orange-colored rose-leaves,
Their ochre clings to the stone.

Ezra Pound

The footnote that corresponds to the title of this poem reads; Ts'ai Chi'h, or more usually Ts'ap Chih, a Chinese poet (A.D 192-232) who wrote five-character poems.
The points that interested me about the footnote was how long ago the poet wrote, the fact that the poet was Chinese and the style of his poetry, five character poems. I don't believe I've ever looked at any type of poetry influenced by a Chinese poet. American influence is quite popular and when studying different eras European poetry is often reflected upon. Conveying a relevant ideas or message in five characters also seems daunting. I then became interested in what Pound had created in relation to all that I had learned by simply reading the titel of the poem and the corresponding note at the bottom of the page.
The first line is strong. I think about and realize that this image is not the first of its type that I have been introduced to. What I mean is that I have seen this before either in a movie or music video or something. At the same time because I have experienced this vision before I can modify the way I see it in my mind by altering little things about the picture. I can change the way the fountain looks or what kind of day it is etc. Then there's a strange twist to the poem as the "rose-leaves" are orange. I had never heard of rose leaves, petals are usually what are associated with roses not leaves and orange? This suddle change of what we are so used to makes such a difference in the poem, it makes this short poem art and creative. Pound takes an aspect of nature or poetry that I thought was universal and changes it. It was a change that I thought to be extremely creative and rare and to me this is what poetry is about, that one word that changes the core of the picture you had in your mind.
The last continues the intensity throughout the poem. What keeps thinking about this poem is the little changes that happen in every line that I would never have expected. In the second line the shock is the color of the rose leaves and in the last line I see no water in the fountain. the ochre or color of the the petals stick to the fountain. Ochre is a pale yellowish color. As the leaves fall they are orange yet as they stick to the stone of the foutain they become pale yellow. By the end of this poem the image I had in my head has been completely revamped. From petals to leaves, from fountain to stone (no water), and from falling to clinging, and from orange to ochre every word is truly significant. Maybe the orange leaves are staining the stone of the fountain yellowish instead of the leaves themsleves clinging to the stone. One of my favorite poems!

3 Comments:

Blogger Donna said...

I think it's a good idea that you found a poem that wasn't written by a European or American - it gets old I think. Even though the ideas are always different from one poet to the next, I like to read things that are different.

February 6, 2005 at 7:16 PM  
Blogger Dr J said...

Not sure I'll be up to Pork Spew before your course ends, but if you're interested in this I can scan you a bunch of stuff on Pound and the (Chinese) ideogram, and even some stuff from guys like Sergei Eisenstein, basically the Soviet Pound of film. Just let me know.

February 7, 2005 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger Lora B said...

Hey Chris
I find it amazing the thought process a poem has on one just through three little lines. When I read the poem I just pictured petals falling off their stems representing an end of a season, or even more the end of life. Yet, while reading your thought process made me read the poem again. It's amazing how different poems can be interpreted. GOOD CHOICE!

February 20, 2005 at 11:52 AM  

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