Pound and Joyce: It’s the Little Things

While it initially seems odd to compare a short story to a poem composed of a mere fourteen words, Ezra Pound’s “In a Station of the Metro” and James Joyce’s “Eveline” are incredibly similar in the style with which they depict images and environments. Both works employ a listing of short, simple, and disjointed descriptions of the scene in order to provide a surprisingly realistic account of it. For example, Pound’s poem—in its entirety—describes “the apparition of these faces in the crowd; // petals on a wet, black bough.” As abstract as this may appear for literature, it is an incredibly accurate representation of the human sensory experience. The speaker of the poem is observing his or her surroundings and processing them one detail at a time. For most people, this is true. As life rushes by franticly, it is often important to pay careful attention to the fine details of an environment in order to truly understand it.

This is equally true in Joyce’s “Eveline.” For instance, the story opens on Eveline as she experiences her surroundings—her home—for perhaps the very last time. The record of her home, however, is very disjointed and simple. Rather than going into an elaborate description of the house and its contents, she notices “the odour of dusty cretonne.” Jumping from image to image, she hears “the man out of the last house [as he] passed on his way home; she heard his footsteps clacking along the concrete pavement.” Like Pound’s poem, these details seem very random and even insignificant. However, she is noticing these details knowing that this is her last time to ever notice them. It is even possible that this is the first time she has noticed them; as she has lived her life in the service of her family, trying to maintain the household, it is possible that she never stopped to pay any attention to the subtleties of her home. In this way, it truly is the little things that she will miss because she was so unaware of their presence in her life in the first place.

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2 thoughts on “Pound and Joyce: It’s the Little Things

  1. Pingback: Ezra Pound – Style Icon | waldina

  2. Pingback: Write Less to Write Better | Jean Wilson Murray

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