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Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord -- Ezra Pound

(Poem #524) Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord
 O fan of white silk,
 clear as frost on the grass-blade,

 You also are laid aside.
-- Ezra Pound
Note: Based on a 1st century BC Chinese poem

A wonderful poem - the clean, austere beauty of the first two lines
balanced perfectly against the quiet understatement of the final one.

Note the simultaneous minimalism and density of the images - the softness of
silk contrasting with the crystalline brittleness of frost, the wintry
overtones of white and frost, suggesting in the fan a perfection born of
unadornedness - and the way they combine into a self-contained whole.

The Oriental feel of the original is captured beautifully - the rather
poignant apostrophe to the fan, the woman's quiet acceptance of her fate,
are enhanced by the almost Japanese minimalism of the imagery.

Another point of note is the poem's title, which makes a more than usually
significant contribution to the whole. For one, it sets the scene, a needed
factor in a poem this short. Secondly, the use of the word 'for' gives the
poem an added poignancy, and a certain quiet dignity, suggesting as it does
an offering to the Imperial Lord who has laid her aside. Again, the phrase
'her Imperial Lord' suggests that the Lord may have laid the poet aside, but
she is not to be afforded a similar privilege - an inequity, of course, very
much in keeping with the poem's setting[1].

[1] or, at least, as much as reasonably popular literature has depicted of
ancient Chinese society - if I am wrong about this please correct me gently


Not quite a haiku, but (as the link below suggests in greater detail),
definitely influenced by the form.

Links: has a short
discussion of the poem.

We've run several of Pound's poems in the past; of particular interest today
is his 'River Merchant's Wife: A Letter', poem #70 which also has a
biography of Pound.


If anyone knows something about the original this poem was based on, do
write in.


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