The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ezra Pound's poem In A Station Of The Metro

59 Comments

  1. F. Philip Holland says:

    This poem is like looking at a slide in a laboratory with the naked eye and then putting it under a microscope. To those who can’t see anything in this poem, keep on looking, you will. Or try going on the metro/tube-train/underground-railway and just stand there and watch. Memorize the three lines, say them to yourself as you observe the faces you may never see again. Think of Spring, all the millions of petals of blossom actually on the boughs. Think of people’s lives, transient and fragile as petals. Birth, blooming, dying, getting on and off at different stations in their lives, in your life, ghosts, memories, all aboard the train of life, all clinging precariously for a brief moment on the tree of life. Are you getting there? Buy the ticket, take a ride, you’ve nothing to lose but your blindness!

  2. Katie says:

    Poems don’t matter on quantity but on quality.
    Ezra Pound wrote a poem comparing two different, concrete things. This poem can have a million different
    interpretations but this is what I believe is the literal level.
    First, I read the Title, In A Station of the Metro; how to describe the Metro? Dark, dingy, isolated, underground.
    Then something comes by..a dark, speeding, dingy train and he sees something not so dark, crowds of peoples faces, bursts of color everywhere.
    This reminds him of bright petals on ebony limbs, and he emphasizes the darkness by saying the bough was wet.
    So Ezra is comparing two things but the fun part is when you try to think of what his “hidden” meanings are.

  3. Misael says:

    The author of “In a station of the Metro” is not Langston Hughes, as I said. It was Ezra Pound of course

  4. Misael says:

    When I 1st read this poem I didn’t liked it at all because it seemed too confusig and short of a good ending. In fact, it doesn’t even has a good start. But then again, when I read it like 4 times more, I realized the power this poem has. It can send you to see what the author was thinking, imagine a full scene of what’s happening. Later I ended liking the way Hughes wrote his poems. You just have to read it more than once to get that feeling.

  5. kasp says:

    This poem may be short, but it really only needs two lines because it’s deep. For the readers who claim it’s to short and confusing… your ingnorant and need to take the time to read into it instead of just whinning and complaining because your to lazy to try and figure it out.

  6. Maureen says:

    This poem like many of Pounds work is interesting. He was the father of imagism and the poem speaks directly toward that. The original poem was much longer but he couldn’t quite come up with the words he wanted to use so its not like he came up with this instaneously. If it requires thought to write then it requires thought to read. He wants us to read exactly between the lines.

  7. lauren says:

    I have to do a project on this!!!!

  8. Jessica says:

    i did not really like his poetry…..

  9. oliver says:

    I am not going to launch into an analysis of the poem, or why and how I like it. I just think it’s a little sad that some people feel like saying things like “two weak ass lines can’t really be a good poem”, then have the arrogance to accuse likers of the poem of being ‘losers’. I thought the idea of this exchange of comments was to agree and disagree -yes, give different opinions, perspectives and ideas, but not actually insult people who have different opinions. To insult people who do not have the same opinion of a poem as you do is to have a fairly immature idea of poetry.

  10. Geoff says:

    This kind of poem may well be based on haiku, but readers need to know that there is a valuable form called a “matchbox poem” or “Ezra” (yes, specifically named for what Ezra Pound developed and most often quoted as this example). The key to the form is two lines; the first is from experience of the world, the second is a reaction from the imagination. Realistically, the interpretation is that Pound has walked down into the station of the subway (called the Metro in Paris) and been struck by the contrast of the pink faces against the backdrop of the dominantly dark plain clothes that the commuters would have been wearing (I am not certain, but I think that it dates to 1926.Although there are many African-French people there now, there would then have been few non-white faces around then.) The word “apparition” is perfect, conveying the sense of a sudden, almost ghostly appearance. The second line is how poets “work”. To be a poet means to see the same things as others do, but see them differently, or to have a desire to capture the difference in words. Perhaps it was Spring. It doesn’t matter, but what Pound sees is an image that reminds him of petals against – well, he even thinks of the boughs being wet because that will make them look darker. It is quite easy to get even young children to write similar styles of poem. Just focus in one line on observing with one particular sense, and then respond in a second line to how it might be interpreted in the imagination. Of course, the whole thing can be scaled up into larger pieces, but they might not fit in a matchbox.

  11. judith says:

    As far as I know, this poem is the reduction of a very much longer one; that’s perhaps the reason why it is that short and why the term haiku doesn’t seem to fit really…Pound seemed to have put a rather “complex” feeling or impression into the shortness of its moment-length.

  12. TjB says:

    The poem is in fact three lines long in this context. The title is the first line–at least that’s what I’ve been told since haiku do not have individual titles. This is not a traditional haiku either since it does not fit into the 5-7-5 syllable scheme. I think it gives this haiku much more freedom. This seems to me to be very characteristic of Pound. As for the meaning, I wouldn’t suggest trying too hard to interperet it. The meaning has great depth, but is not meant to be too elusive to the reader. I feel that the “petals” refer to the shortness of life which can be connected to “apparition”–an illusion, or vision that can be fleeting–and to the length of the poem. “Petals” is plural, which shows that there is no particular individual being described in this poem. “Apparition” is singular, which unites the “faces” into one single body. It gives the feeling of conformity to these faces. In a way, the figures described at the Metro are conformed and lack individuality–walking ghosts. The petals described in the last line are revealed to be individualists. It is interesting. There seems to be restriction in urban society and freedom in nature. The haiku is not a joining of two similar subjects, but it is a comparison of two unlike subjects in this case. At least, this is what I can gather from the haiku.

  13. marie says:

    this is a gorgeous poem. yes it is a poem. length is not a qualifying characteristic of poetry. i’ve seen one line poems. and it was quite effective. (my poetry professor saw one that was only a title.) poetry is creating art, just with words. paper and words are a poet’s media.
    for those of you who hate it and think it has no meaning, look past the black ink on the pages. there is a meaning woven between and into the words. its there. i can feel it.

  14. Jeremiah Josiah says:

    I agree with the haters, this poem was weak … two weak ass lines cant really be a good poem. what was he thinking, was he high? The poem didnt even ryhme or make sense… for those of you who think this poem is really good, u must be some kind of loser…

  15. Karen says:

    After reading all the comments that ppl left for this poem i still dont even get it. How the hell can u get so much from 2 little lines??? In a couple minutes me and my partner Andrew have to explain this crappy poem to the class and we dont have a clue as what to say!!!

  16. Geoff says:

    If you think the poem “sucks” and there’s no meaning, read it again, and read between the lines. Pound is simply telling his audience to stop and smell the roses. That’s why it’s so short; it doesn’t need to be any longer. Originally the poem was 40 lines and he cut it down to two, because those two lines were the “essence” of the poem. Then again, you could probably pick this poem apart so much that you find about 1, 000, 000 different meanings.

  17. Brother Geo says:

    It seems to me that no one has yet tumbled to the true meaning of this poem. Pound specifically says the “apparition” of faces….in short, the faces in total combine to make an apparition. This apparition is, of course, the future spector of Death….i.e., the “petals” on the “black bough,” with the black bough being Death itself. Way to go, Pound!

  18. Jennifer says:

    Pound cleverly states where the poem is taking place. The meaning I take from the poem is a deep one. “The apparition of these faces in the crowd;” perhaps he is simply stating as we walk the earth or in this case a bus station we don’t pay attention. Most people keep to themselves in a bus station not wanting to call attention or looking into anyone’s eyes. So people become ghost, an apparition because we are seeing faces, but not really acknowledging anyone. Perhaps, “petals on a wet, black bough,” are the feet of people walking, on the dark pavement and the wetness is from the steam of the train.

    To me the entirety of the poem means we don’t pay attention to “strangers” instead of giving a courteous nod or wave, we look without seeing and we all become apparitions in a crowd.

  19. Lang Le says:

    I am on the same ground with Danzig (comment #16), with one difference. The “wet, black bough” may be the impression of a rain-drenched crowd instead of the dark subway station. The connection from people’s faces to petals is masterful in that it calls up a storm of feelings and senses.

  20. sara says:

    this poem was inspired by traditional japanese haikus but it is adapted to express the alienation of modern society…I hope it will bring me luck at my exam next saturday!!

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