BA. Conrad Aiken

7. Lights and Snow. Harvard Advocate 105/2 (January 1919): 17-19.

  Reprinted with additions in Selected Poems.  

More unambiguously than most of Aiken’s verse demonstrates a debt to Pound and the principles of Imagism he derived partly from Japanese models. Martin (21) finds that the ‘basic form’ has its origin in Cathay (BK15) and Waley’s Chinese translations, with their ‘foreshortened blank verse’, ‘subdued’ emotion, and ‘conjunction of sharp images with a deliberate flatness of tone’ (see D26), and Miner (A25) notes ‘examples of Pound’s super-pository technique [see BK12] which recur in Aiken’s work of this period’. The reliance on images of winter to unify disconnected sections is reminiscent of Japanese practice, as are other methods of ‘linking’ sections, through ‘mood’ or ‘unexpressed meaning’ or ‘hidden theme’, for example, but the only account of Japanese linked verse (renga) available in a European language in 1919 was Chamberlain’s (see D5a), from which such technical devices could not have been derived, and so any debt to Japanese practice in this regard is more a matter of intuition than conscious imitation of technique. Variations (2), written at about the same time, relies similarly on Imagist principles, seasonal words and images (kigo), and modernist ‘links’ between disparate sections. Reprinted, with additions, in 10 and 14, the former of which includes a note identifying the year of composition as 1917.





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