A Touch of Cold in the Autumn Night

by T. E. Hulme

I walked abroad,
And saw the ruddy moon lean over a hedge
Like a red-faced farmer.
I did not stop to speak, but nodded;
And round about were the wistful stars
With white faces like town children.



Dwight William Tryon


Touch of Cold in the Autumn Night, A


Hulme, T. E.

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Things to Discuss:

Poets of the Imagist movement defined Image as the instantaneous receipt of information through the senses does this statement help you as you read the poem. Identify the images. How close does Hulme adhere to the objectives given by Aldington (see About the poem)? Hulme once wrote this “beauty is the marking-time, the stationary vibration, the feigned ecstasy of an arrested impulse unable to reach its natural end,” does this qualify for real language?

About the Poem:

Richard Aldington gave this list of objectives sought by the “imagists”:

1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ always the exact word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.
2. To create new rhythms—as the expression of new moods—and not to copy old rhythms, which merely echo old moods. We do not insist upon "free-verse" as the only method of writing poetry. We fight for it as for a principle of liberty. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better expressed in free-verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new cadence means a new idea.
3. To allow absolute freedom in the choice of subject. It is not good art to write badly about aeroplanes and automobiles; nor is it necessarily bad art to write well about the past. We believe passionately in the artistic value of modern life, but we wish to point out that there is nothing so uninspiring nor so old-fashioned as an aeroplane of the year 1911.
4. To present an image (hence the name: "Imagist"). We are not a school of painters, but we believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real difficulties of his art.
5. To produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.
6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry.

About the Poet:

Thomas Ernest Hulme (1883-1917) was one of the founders of the Imagist movement. A Cambridge student who was asked to leave because of inappropriate behavior. He went to London and distinguished himself by translating the works of Henri Bergson and Albert Sorel. Before joining the British army in France he wrote an essay against pacifism and the philosophy of Bertrand Russell He predicted the demise of the “post-Renaissance” “romantic optimism” of popular writing and opened the door for the post-war “beat generation.”