Ezra Pound's Three Kinds of Poetry

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Ezra Pound distinguished three "kinds of poetry:" melopoeia, phanopoeia, and logopoeia.


Melopoeia or melopeia is when words are "charged" beyond their normal meaning with some musical property which further directs its meaning,[1] inducing emotional correlations by sound and rhythm of the speech.

Melopoeia can be "appreciated by a foreigner with a sensitive ear" but does not translate well, according to Pound.[1]


Phanopoeia or phanopeia is defined as "a casting of images upon the visual imagination,"[1] throwing the object (fixed or moving) on to the visual imagination.

Phanopoeia can be translated without much difficulty, according to Pound.


Logopoeia or logopeia is a word coined in 1917 by Ezra Pound referring to the most recent of what he saw as "the three kinds of poetry:" poetry that uses words for more than just their direct meaning,[1] stimulating the visual imagination with phanopoeia and inducing emotional correlations with melopoeia.

Pound was said to have coined the word from Greek roots in a 1917 review of Mina Loy's poetry[citation needed] — he defined the term as "the dance of the intellect among words."[1] Elsewhere he changes intellect to intelligence.[citation needed] In the New York Herald Tribune of 20 January 1929, he gave a less opaque definition: poetry which "employs words not only for their direct meaning, but [...] takes count in a special way of habits of usage, of the context we expect to find with the word".[1]

Logopoeia is the most recent kind of poetry and does not translate well, according to Pound.[citation needed]

In truth, Logopoeia could not have been coined by Pound, as it already existed in classical Greek, as you can see by looking at any version of Liddell and Scott.[2]


  1. ^ a b c d e f Pound, Ezra. Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. New Directions Publishing. p. 25. ISBN 978-0-8112-0157-5. 
  2. ^ Greek-English Lexicon, ninth edition, Henry George Liddell and Robert Scott (Oxford UP, 1940), p. 1057