A. Critical and Comparative Studies

2. Flint, F. S. ‘Book of the Week: Recent Verse’. New Age, 11 July 1908, pp. 212-13.

The earliest work to suggest that English verse might benefit from a turn to Japanese sources. Reviews among other works Sword and Blossom Poems from the Japanese (3 vols., Tokyo: Hasegawa, 1901), and finds that ‘surely nothing more tenderly beautiful has been produced of late years than this delicate conspiracy of Japanese artist with Japanese poet’, though ‘it is a pity . . . that the translators did not choose some other measure than the heavy English rhymed quatrain’, for ‘it is probable that nearly all the spontaneity of the Japanese tanka has thus been lost’. Identifies ‘suggestion’ as a feature of Japanese poetry, and equates this with Mallarmé. In example of the possibilities of unmetred and unrhymed verse that might serve as models for poets writing in English, Flint offers two ‘haikai’—‘literal renderings’, Harmer (A51) points out, of Couchoud’s French (see D19)—and suggests that for the poet who can ‘catch and render, like these Japanese, the brief fragments of his soul’s music, the future lies open’. He was right. Kodama (A59) notes that the second of these poems, Moritake’s ‘A fallen petal’, is the probable source of Pound’s knowledge of it in his famous ‘Vorticism’ essay of 1914 (BK12), and adds that ‘fortunately’ it was ‘in the “form of superposition”’ (see BK12), though it should be added perhaps that by the time of Pound’s article both Aston (D13) and Noguchi (D15e6) had published English translations of Moritake’s poem, and Pound would have been aware of these as well.





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