#54—A Novel and a Poem

    But of course, given these two abutted photographs by Lee Ka-sing, which is which?  I suppose it would be easiest to argue that the second image—the one at the right—is the poem.  It even has stanzas.  It’s compact. With two sharp densities—that look like ancient arrowheads.  So maybe it’s a lyric poem, an imagist ink-spot.  Funny, though, how we so often imagine that poems are short.  Dante’s Divine Comedy is a poem. So is The Upanishads.  And Pushkin’s Eugene Onegin.  
     But okay, here’s a genuinely small two-part poem—a very famous one—that sounds the way Ka-sing’s “poem” photo looks: it’s by Ezra Pound and it’s called In a Station of the Metro.  He published it in Poetry magazine in 1913:
     The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
     Petals on a wet, black bough.
One glories—yes?—in the energy of juxtaposition: the haiku-like dangling of one image (“these faces in the crowd”) into the realm of another image (“Petals on a wet, black bough”).  You can feel the rub of the first phrase on the second.  The fact that there’s no conjunction-like connective phrasing linking the two images (for example: ….the faces in the crowd ARE LIKE petals on a wet, black bough….) heats up the poem the way friction would. 
     As for the “novel” photo—the one at the left—it’s all bound up in itself, a seamless, internally coordinated structure of words and ideas. Let it be, quivering in consciousness.