clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.
Imagine a women as white as silk, pure and beautiful, who is loved briefly and then laid aside, discarded. The title of this poem, A Fan-piece For Her Imperial Lord, suggests that this is what the author is depicting in his seventeen-word composition.
What strikes a reader first is the brevity of the poem. Less than twenty words, this poem is short; although not sweet. But Pound is telling us something big through its being short. The whole experience was brief, just like it only takes a second to lay down a fan you no longer need or enjoy. Pound uses almost every word in more than one way, each one carefully chosen and fit together so that it all works the way he imagined it.
There are several wonderful metaphors; the first is the woman being represented as a fan. Just as rich women would use a beautiful fan to show their splendor so Her Imperial Lord was using her to show his greatness, which shows that he may have had some ulterior motives in his love. But not only was she represented by a fan, the fan was made of white silk. This metaphor depicts the woman’s beauty as delicate and fine, just like white silk is. The second line of the poem has another lovely metaphor in it; clear as frost on the grass-blade. Frost is also delicate, showing her beauty again, but there is more to it. Just as frost melts when the sun hits it, so her beauty and loveliness melted and was gone in the eyes of her lover; resulting in her being laid aside.
There is one other interesting word. Only four letters, it may be skipped over, but there is great meaning in it; the word also. It suggests that this has happened before, and she is just another beautiful woman in the succession of beautiful women he has discarded for another. It gives one a sense of despair; that there is nothing that can be done to gain his love again, making the whole poem somewhat depressing.
Though the poem itself gives a sense of hopelessness, the words themselves, the metaphors and double meanings, give it great beauty. As you read it again, be sure to fully appreciate all of the poetic splendor that Ezra Pound put into it.