Ezra Pound and “The Duration of Syllables”

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

“If the verse makers of our time are to improve on their immediate precursors we must be vitally aware of the duration of syllables of melodic coherence, and of the tone leading of the vowels” (Ezra Pound)

AG: So now what is this?. “The duration of syllables” he (Pound) understands, how.. – (understands) long and short syllables – the idea of it. So he’s saying America should then try to begin to hear the difference between a long and short syllable.  In another place, he says that he thinks the direction of American poetry will be in an approximation of classical quantity (he uses the word “approximation” – I’ve quoted that before I think any number of times) – In other words, it’s not a science, it’s just you develop an ear for it, so you begin to hear it after a while. Just like you develop an ear for stress (everybody’s got a little bit of an ear for stress), You can also, one can also, develop an ear for quantity – And it ain’t that hard. It’s just if you pay attention to it. Because I’m talking about it, and it’s obvious after a while, anyway. I can.. -. It’s not that you have to practice developing an ear, it’s just – there – (just like you develop an awareness of your breath). Once somebody points it out, then you know it. You know, it’s not a big thing, (like)  you’ve got to, you know, learn the scales of a piano forever – just be aware that they have long and short…

Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at at approximately eight and three -quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately ten minutes in

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