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Themes

The poem blends two images into one. In the process, it seems to downplay the reality of everyday life as an "apparition," while the spiritual life of memory and the imagination is heightened. Pound thought that a great image could reveal the "higher" reality of something that already seems real to us, like people getting on a subway.

Questions About Versions of Reality

  1. Describe Ezra Pound’s conception of "truth" as displayed in the poem. What is the relationship between language and truth?
  2. Does the use of the word "apparition" make the faces seem more or less real?
  3. Does the poem accurately describe what it feels like to be in a crowded subway station? What makes the description seem real?
  4. Can a place be "real" even if it only exists in the imagination?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Pound uses the word "apparition" to suggest that the everyday world may not be as real as we think.

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