Michael Alexander: On "Portrait d'une Femme"

'Portrait d'une Femme' is an essay in something new, but the comparison with Eliot's 'Portrait of a Lady' is to Pound's disadvantage. Like Masefield's 'Quinquireme', the woman is interesting chiefly for her cargo; she is a Sargasso Sea of quaint wrecks, of cultural trophies and memories. Like other ladies in early Pound, Eliot, or Lewis, she is and has long been a hostess in the salon world, the object of ambiguous feeling on the part of the iconoclasts who drink her tea. The lady is a collection of curiosities, not a person; her identity is defined by her trophies. Very good; but Pound is too interested in the cultural rarities, too much the museum visitor. And the pot-hunter is not saved by his irony. His 'brilliant' dismissal of the dear old relic at the end 'falls heavily among the bric-à-brac'; but, unlike Mr. Eliot's young visitor, he doesn't notice.

From The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound. Copyright © 1979 by Michael Alexander.

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Criticism Overview
Title Michael Alexander: On "Portrait d'une Femme" Type of Content Criticism
Criticism Author Criticism Target Ezra Pound
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 05 Oct 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound
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