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Analysis Of Abc Of Reading

1151 words - 5 pages

According to Ezra Pound, great literature is “simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree,” (Pound 28) and “news that stays news” (29). In his book, ABC of Reading, Pound explains that one can “charge words with meaning mainly in three ways, called phanopoeia, melopoeia, logopoeia” (37). The way he wrote his book is analogous to the way any writing should be: clear rather than abstract and very concise. The poetry appended to the volume, too, tends toward the clean, precise and concise. John Donne’s, “The Ecstasy” is one of many that Pound classifies as “great literature” and therefore part of the canon of great literature.
In “The Ecstasy,” John Donne manages to express what he means without “hunting for sentiments that fit his vocabulary,” (140) according to Pound. Pound indicates that Donne’s choice of words is merely a vehicle, which he uses to convey his message or meaning to the reader. When he writes, “we like sepulchral statues lay,” (Donne18) Donne particularly chooses the word “sepulchral” (18) for several reasons. Sepulchral refers to a tomb so this describes the physical state of the statues. In addition to that, sepulchral can be used to express a gloomy tone, and here, Donne personifies the statues by giving them a feeling of emotion. Although one among many, this example perfectly testifies to how Donne uses single words to represent multiple ideas. Pound classifies this as one way of “charging words with meaning,” (Pound 37) known as logopoeia. Furthermore, this poem meets Pound’s requirement of being a “concentrated form of verbal expression” (36) because, the sepulchral statues can also refer to monuments. In writing this poem, Donne attempts to build a monument out of words rather than marble. When describing the position of their hands, “our hands were firmly cemented,” (Donne 5) he uses the word cemented in effort to give the lines a monumental stillness. This further demonstrates Donne’s attempt at making his poem concrete rather than abstract just like a monument of bricks and mortar.
Donne uses another technique to charge his poem with meaning, known as melopoeia. According to Pound, melopoeia is best defined as “inducing emotional correlations by the sound and rhythm of the speech” (Pound 63). He incorporates this feature in his poem by establishing a continuous rhyme scheme throughout his poem of abab. The melodious rhythm forces the reader to look beyond the rhyme scheme, into the actual text, to find something out of the ordinary that catches his attention. This enables Donne to use other elements, such as imagery, to alter the tone of the poem from one stanza to the next. Donne uses a solemn tone when speaking of the physical body and switches to a jovial tone when speaking of the soul. In the first stanza of the poem, Donne establishes a jovial tone when describing a scene of two people sitting on a hill. “Sat we two, one another’s best,” (Donne 4) refers to two souls rather than physical...

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