By Brian Trehearne
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Additional info for Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists: Aspects of a Poetic Influence
Ross and Knister explore the various manners of Aesthetic address with a consistency that betrays more than a coincidence of expression with the earlier school. " The speaker is arrested in a sudden, silent contemplation of natural splendour. The autumnal melancholy of the "withered corn" is confirmed as "The thin light melts and yields, / The torn stalks shiver," but all this imagery of decay is "submerged" by the "pale gold" of the river in the distance, which reflects piercingly the yielding sunlight, "and passes," Leaving all no less unspent, Nor more lonely.
The brief, often delicate lines of Ross's best-known manner are well suited to transmit his finely tuned aesthetic breathlessness in the face of Canadian beauty; Knister's verse adopts the typically shortened line of the Imagists haphazardly, but Ross uses it religiously, capturing his image with light quick strokes: One leaf is floating on ripples in shallow shore-side water over the sand at the bottom that shimmers in sunlight13 The narrow focus of the vision - a single leaf in shallow water - is reflected in the sparse, chopped lines that capture it.
20 According to Hugh Kenner, "Dowson, Lionel Johnson, John Gray, 'Fiona MacleocT ... "21 While convinced that the Decadents brought the "new convention" to a "dead end" (Kenner, 186), which Imagism managed to avoid, Kenner admits nevertheless that their "aesthetic of glimpses contained possibilities: for note that Symons' 'Pastel,' but for being rhymed, corresponds exactly to what Imagist poems are often supposed to be. It presents something visual, and does not ruminate nor interpret" (183). Kenner also relates the roots of Imagism to Pater's doctrines, in which the moments of life are seized "for those moments' sake," not for their spiritual or doctrinal ramifications.
Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists: Aspects of a Poetic Influence by Brian Trehearne