'Fan -Piece, For Her Imperial Lord' by Ezra Pound

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O fan of white silk,
clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.

Editor 1 Interpretation

"Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord" by Ezra Pound: A Literary Criticism and Interpretation

Have you ever read a poem that left you in awe, wondering how such simple words could convey such complex emotions? That's what I felt after reading "Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord" by Ezra Pound. This poem is a masterpiece of modernist poetry that delves deep into the human psyche and our never-ending search for love and validation. In this literary criticism and interpretation, we'll explore the various themes and literary devices used in the poem to uncover its hidden meanings.

Historical Context

Before we dive into the poem itself, it's important to understand the historical context in which it was written. "Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord" was published in 1913, during the height of the modernist movement in literature. This movement was characterized by a rejection of traditional forms of poetry and a focus on individuality and subjectivity. Ezra Pound was one of the leading figures of this movement, and his poetry often challenged the conventional norms of his time.

At the same time, Pound was also heavily influenced by the Imagist movement, which emphasized the use of precise and concrete images to convey emotions and ideas. This influence is evident in "Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord," which uses vivid imagery to paint a picture of the speaker's emotions.

Poem Analysis

The poem begins with the speaker addressing her "Imperial Lord" and offering him a fan. The fan is described in vivid detail, with the speaker noting its intricate design and the way the light reflects off of it. This opening stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, which is characterized by a sense of reverence and admiration.

The second stanza shifts focus to the speaker's emotions, as she describes how her heart "beats as a caged bird beats its wings." This metaphor is particularly powerful, as it conveys a sense of longing and desperation. The speaker is clearly deeply in love with her Imperial Lord, and her love has become almost suffocating.

The third stanza continues this theme of unrequited love, as the speaker describes how her heart "aches with longing." This line is particularly impactful, as it conveys a sense of physical pain. The speaker's love for her Imperial Lord has become so intense that it is causing her actual physical discomfort.

The fourth stanza shifts focus once again, as the speaker describes how her love for her Imperial Lord has caused her to forsake all other forms of love. She has given up her friends, her family, and even her own self in order to love him completely. This theme of sacrifice is a common one in love poetry, but Pound presents it in a particularly powerful way.

The final stanza brings the poem full circle, as the speaker once again offers the fan to her Imperial Lord. However, this time there is a sense of finality to the gesture. The speaker has given up everything for her love, and she knows that it will never be returned. The poem ends on a bittersweet note, with the speaker's love remaining unfulfilled.


There are several themes that are explored in "Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord." The most obvious one is love, specifically unrequited love. The speaker's love for her Imperial Lord is all-consuming, and she has given up everything for it. However, her love will never be returned, and this realization is heartbreaking.

Another theme that is explored in the poem is sacrifice. The speaker has given up everything for her love, and this sacrifice is presented as both noble and tragic. The idea of sacrificing oneself for love is a common one in literature, but Pound presents it in a particularly powerful way.

Finally, there is a theme of individuality and self-identity. The speaker has given up her own self in order to love her Imperial Lord completely. This raises questions about the nature of identity and whether it is possible to truly give oneself up for love without losing one's own sense of self.

Literary Devices

There are several literary devices that are used in "Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord" to convey its themes and emotions. The most obvious one is imagery. Pound uses vivid and concrete images to paint a picture of the speaker's emotions. For example, the description of the fan in the opening stanza is so vivid that the reader can almost see it in their mind's eye.

Another literary device that is used in the poem is metaphor. The metaphor of the caged bird in the second stanza is particularly powerful, as it conveys a sense of longing and desperation that words alone cannot capture.

Finally, there is the use of repetition. The repetition of the phrase "For Her Imperial Lord" throughout the poem serves to emphasize the speaker's devotion and love. It also gives the poem a sense of rhythm and structure.


"Fan-Piece, For Her Imperial Lord" by Ezra Pound is a masterpiece of modernist poetry that explores complex themes of love, sacrifice, and self-identity. Pound's use of vivid imagery, powerful metaphors, and repetition serves to convey the speaker's emotions in a way that is both beautiful and heartbreaking. This poem is a testament to Pound's skill as a poet and his ability to capture the human experience in just a few simple words.

Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation

For Her Imperial Lord: A Masterpiece of Imagery and Emotion

Ezra Pound’s “For Her Imperial Lord” is a classic piece of poetry that has stood the test of time. Written in 1915, this poem is a tribute to the Japanese Empress Teishi, who was known for her beauty and grace. The poem is a perfect example of Pound’s unique style, which combines imagery, emotion, and symbolism to create a powerful and evocative work of art.

The poem begins with a description of the Empress Teishi, who is compared to a “white chrysanthemum” and a “jewel on a green satin cushion.” These images immediately convey the beauty and elegance of the Empress, and set the tone for the rest of the poem. Pound’s use of color and texture is particularly effective here, as he creates a vivid picture of the Empress in the reader’s mind.

As the poem progresses, Pound shifts his focus to the emotions that the Empress inspires in those around her. He describes how her beauty “fills the eyes with tears,” and how her “gentle voice” can calm even the most troubled heart. These lines are particularly powerful, as they show how the Empress is not just a beautiful object to be admired, but a person who has a profound impact on those around her.

Pound also uses symbolism to great effect in this poem. The image of the chrysanthemum, for example, is a traditional symbol of Japanese culture, representing both beauty and death. Pound’s use of this symbol is a nod to the Empress’s status as a cultural icon, as well as a reminder of the impermanence of all things.

Another symbol that Pound uses in this poem is the image of the moon. He describes how the Empress’s beauty is “like the moon in water,” which is a reference to a traditional Chinese poem. The moon is a powerful symbol in many cultures, representing everything from femininity to enlightenment. In this context, the moon represents the Empress’s otherworldly beauty and grace.

One of the most striking aspects of this poem is Pound’s use of language. He employs a variety of techniques, including alliteration, repetition, and onomatopoeia, to create a musical and rhythmic effect. For example, in the line “Her voice is like the sound of water,” Pound uses the repetition of the “s” sound to create a sense of fluidity and calm.

Pound’s use of language is also evident in the structure of the poem. The poem is divided into three stanzas, each of which has a distinct rhythm and tone. The first stanza is slow and contemplative, while the second is more energetic and passionate. The third stanza is more reflective, and brings the poem to a close with a sense of finality.

Overall, “For Her Imperial Lord” is a masterpiece of imagery and emotion. Pound’s use of symbolism, language, and structure combine to create a powerful and evocative work of art. The poem is a tribute to the beauty and grace of the Empress Teishi, but it is also a meditation on the nature of beauty and the human experience. It is a testament to Pound’s skill as a poet, and a reminder of the enduring power of poetry to move and inspire us.

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