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Additional resources for Aestheticism and the Canadian Modernists: Aspects of a Poetic Influence
14 But the chief aesthetic link to be found between Aestheticism and Modernism, according to Chamberlin, is their mutual antagonism to the vulgarization of the arts taking place in an increasingly democratic and literate culture: Both, in ways that are congruent, were informed by an almost puritan zeal to maintain standards appropriate to what were received as the sacred values of art, and to protect these values against compromise ... a defence against the futile institutionalizing of language and other forms of communication was to break them down into their smaller constituent elements - images, words, sounds, and so forth.
The school of Imagism was not, after all, so coherent, easily defined, or homogeneous as to permit the quick conclusions that have limited the study of Canadian Imagism in the past. T here is no question at all that imagism influences Knister and Ross, that there are elements of their poetry that are Imagistic or that the word has some usefulness in our discussion of their canons. But what manner of Imagism touched them? The Poundian? The "Amygistic"? Williams's Imagism? Did they receive it passively or develop it in directions that we can now delineate?
Knister was perfectly aware of his preoccupation with such arresting glimpses and of his inevitable failure to capture them. "Moments When I'm Feeling Poems" refers to poetic inspiration as a time "when beauty creeps like pain" (note the conjunction of abstractions), when he acknowledges "the old futility of art": When some forgotten clear slight Secret's imminent plangent chords Come like a full moon's night That has been stolen by rain, Dimmed grey, radiant and palled. It would appear that Knister's poetry was often incited just after a vision, or glimpse, or "moment"; but by creating "just after" instead of "during," the poet loses the "light" of the vision, which is clouded over, left "dimmed" and "palled," even if still somehow "radiant" in the memory.