Walter Sutton

Walter Sutton: On "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter"

The precise, Imagist technique of these poems, in Pound's rendition, can be seen in "The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter." The speaker is a young wife, married at fourteen, who expresses, largely through images, the loneliness and isolation she feels in separation from her husband, absent on a five-month business trip, and her eagerness to be reunited with him. . . .

The effect of an intense, repressed emotion is conveyed through carefully selected images and minimal statement -- a method productive of the kind of poetry at which the Imagists were aiming: a precise, objective rendering.

From American Free Verse: The Modern Revolution in Poetry. Copyright © 1973 by Walter Sutton.

Walter Sutton: On "Portrait d'une Femme"

The blank verse "Portrait d'une Femme," a Browningesque yet modern vignette, depicts the emptiness and sterility of the life of a cultured woman, surrounded by an exotic assortment of objects of art: "Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea, / London has swept about you this score years / And bright ships left you this or that in fee. . . ." Despite her acquisitions, often the "fee" of casual alliances with cultured lovers, the lady is without a sense of identity or fulfillment: "No! there is nothing! In the whole and all, / Nothing that's quite your own. / Yet this is you." This subject and theme, anticipatory of Eliot's hollow men and women.


From American Free Verse: The Modern Revolution in Poetry. Copyright © 1973 by Walter Sutton.