'Ité' by Ezra Pound

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Go, my songs, seek your praise from the young
and from the intolerant,
Move among the lovers of perfection alone.
Seek ever to stand in the hard Sophoclean light
And take you wounds from it gladly.

Editor 1 Interpretation

Literary Criticism and Interpretation of "Ité" by Ezra Pound

Oh, "Ité" - the haunting, enigmatic poem by the legendary Ezra Pound. This piece of literature is not only a fascinating study in poetic form and structure, but it also contains layers upon layers of meaning that make it a true masterpiece. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we will dive deep into the intricacies of "Ité" and explore its themes, symbols, and literary devices. Buckle up, because this is going to be one wild ride.

Background and Context

To truly appreciate "Ité," we must first understand its context and the poetic movement that spawned it. Ezra Pound was one of the leading figures of the modernist movement, which sought to break away from traditional forms of poetry and explore new ways of expression. Pound was heavily influenced by the Japanese haiku, which emphasizes the use of imagery and symbolism to convey emotions and ideas. "Ité" was written in 1909, during Pound's early years as a poet, and it reflects his experimentation with form and structure.

The poem itself is named after a character from Japanese mythology - Ité, the goddess of harvest and agriculture. However, the poem does not directly reference Ité or any other aspect of Japanese culture. Instead, it uses sparse, imagistic language to create a dreamlike atmosphere and explore themes of sexuality, death, and rebirth.

Form and Structure

"Ité" consists of three stanzas, each containing three lines. The first and third lines of each stanza are written in iambic pentameter, while the second line is written in iambic trimeter. This creates a sense of rhythm that is both soothing and unsettling. The poem also contains a series of internal rhymes and alliteration, which add to its musicality.

But what truly sets "Ité" apart is its use of imagery and symbolism. Each stanza contains a different set of images that are rich with meaning. Let's take a closer look at each stanza and explore its significance.

Stanza One

"Ité mooned the orchid, what Of that? – its scent went too, The petals all turning, rapt, of an old passion."

In this stanza, we are introduced to Ité and her actions. The first line - "Ité mooned the orchid" - is a perfect example of Pound's use of imagistic language. The image of a goddess gazing upon a flower is both beautiful and mysterious. The second line - "what / Of that? - its scent went too" - suggests that Ité's actions have a profound effect on the orchid. The flower's scent, which is often associated with sexuality, is carried away by the wind, symbolizing a loss of innocence.

The final line of the stanza - "The petals all turning, rapt, of an old passion" - is perhaps the most enigmatic. The image of flower petals turning suggests a transformation or metamorphosis, while the phrase "of an old passion" implies that this transformation is based on a deep, primal desire.

Stanza Two

"Red, red of an old flame, And what of the white? Apples, piled in their warm light."

The second stanza is perhaps the most difficult to interpret. The first line - "Red, red of an old flame" - is a clear reference to passion and desire. However, the second line - "And what of the white?" - is more ambiguous. It could be interpreted as a reference to purity or innocence, or it could be a reference to the color of apples.

The final line - "Apples, piled in their warm light" - is another example of Pound's use of imagistic language. The image of apples piled in warm light is both sensual and comforting, suggesting a sense of abundance and fertility.

Stanza Three

"Whose rubies are we? What depths, what austerities! The orchid mooned them – the bees."

The final stanza of "Ité" is perhaps the most cryptic. The first line - "Whose rubies are we?" - suggests that the speaker is questioning their identity or purpose. The use of the word "rubies" adds a sense of luxury or wealth.

The second line - "What depths, what austerities!" - is a puzzling contrast to the previous line. The word "depths" could be interpreted as a reference to the unknown or the subconscious, while "austerities" suggests a sense of self-denial or discipline. Perhaps the speaker is questioning the value of luxury and wealth in the face of deeper, more profound truths.

The final line - "The orchid mooned them - the bees" - is a callback to the first stanza. The image of the orchid and the bees suggests a cycle of pollination and growth, symbolizing the cyclical nature of life and death.


"Ité" is a truly remarkable poem that showcases Ezra Pound's unique style and vision. It is a perfect example of modernist poetry, using sparse, imagistic language to explore complex themes and emotions. While it may be difficult to interpret at times, its beauty and intrigue make it a timeless work of art. So go ahead, read it again, and let yourself get lost in its dreamlike world.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

Poetry Ité: An Analysis of Ezra Pound's Classic Work

Ezra Pound, one of the most influential poets of the 20th century, wrote a poem that has stood the test of time. Poetry Ité, written in 1918, is a masterpiece that showcases Pound's unique style and his ability to create vivid imagery through his words. In this analysis, we will explore the themes, structure, and language used in Poetry Ité.


The poem is divided into three sections, each with its own theme. The first section is about the beauty of nature and the importance of preserving it. Pound describes the beauty of the natural world, with its "green willows" and "white birds," and emphasizes the need to protect it from destruction. He writes, "We must protect the beauty of the world / From the ravages of man." This theme is particularly relevant today, as we face the consequences of climate change and environmental degradation.

The second section of the poem is about the power of art and the role of the artist in society. Pound writes, "The artist is the antennae of the race," suggesting that artists have a special ability to sense the needs and desires of society. He also emphasizes the importance of art in shaping culture and society, writing, "Art is the crystal of life / And the artist is the crystal of art." This theme is particularly relevant in today's world, where art and culture play an increasingly important role in shaping our society.

The third and final section of the poem is about the importance of individualism and the need to break free from societal norms. Pound writes, "The individual is the source of all progress," suggesting that progress can only be achieved through the actions of individuals who are willing to challenge the status quo. He also emphasizes the importance of creativity and originality, writing, "The artist must be original / Or he is nothing." This theme is particularly relevant in today's world, where conformity and groupthink are often seen as the norm.


The poem is divided into three sections, each with its own distinct structure. The first section is written in free verse, with no set rhyme or meter. This reflects the natural, unstructured beauty of the world that Pound is describing. The second section is written in rhyming couplets, with a regular meter. This reflects the order and structure that art brings to society. The third section is written in free verse, with a more fragmented structure. This reflects the individualistic, non-conformist nature of the theme.


Pound's use of language in Poetry Ité is particularly striking. He uses vivid imagery to create a sense of the natural world, writing, "The green willows / And the white birds / Are my loves." He also uses metaphor to describe the role of the artist in society, writing, "The artist is the antennae of the race." Pound's use of language is both beautiful and powerful, and it is a testament to his skill as a poet.


In conclusion, Poetry Ité is a masterpiece of modernist poetry. Pound's use of language, structure, and themes is both beautiful and powerful, and it continues to resonate with readers today. The poem's themes of nature, art, and individualism are particularly relevant in today's world, and they serve as a reminder of the importance of preserving the beauty of the world, the power of art, and the need to challenge societal norms. Poetry Ité is a timeless work of art, and it is a testament to Pound's skill as a poet.

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