Ezra Pound first published this poem in 1913, at a time when writers of poetry were trying to break from the traditional pentameters associated with their craft. This piece is an excellent example of Imagism, in which poets, instead of describing an image in detail , tried to use a minimal amount of words, and evoke an image by use of a well-written phrase. Pound uses haiku style of poetry in this piece which contains only 14 words- a stark contrast to the 20-30 lines from previous era of Victorianism.
Pound once explained that he did not wish the heart of the poem to be in the first or second line- but to be the thought process that connects them. While this is a concept used in Imagism, it is more like the latter form he embraced- Vorticism. This categorization comes from the endeavor of the author to treat the poem as a piece of graphic art. Upon examination of the poem itself, it is interesting to note that no verbs are used in the poem, yet it conveys a sense of movement.
His choice of the word “apparition” automatically makes the reader conjure images of mysticism and spirits, thus he begins his contrasts between the real and the unreal; the beautiful and the ugly; the mundane and the exotic. His contrast of nature versus man-made and the quick transition he makes is very typical of the Japanese haiku style. Interestingly he uses “petals” instead of flowers, giving it a softer, more feminine quality; thus the dark masculinity of the black bough is doubled.
The comparison of these two is simultaneous with what the poet has seen on the railway platform- opposites that not only are extremes but that compliment each other. There is continued debate among scholars as to the true meaning of this poem and what Pound intended to convey when he wrote it. Nevertheless, they all have to agree that he did what he set out to do- transcend traditional form and make an eye-opening statement to his readers.