The Cantos of Ezra Pound

ezra poundThe Cantos start on easy enough ground – The Odyssey. But they soon start to get pretty obscure. Pound himself said you are not supposed to look stuff up. But we do anyway, sometimes. Not enough to spoil the mystery; that would be a fool’s errand.  And Ezra was no fool – just mad, which is not the same thing at all. And anyway, he was a terrible name-dropper.

Here are few short bits from Cantos that I have re-read recently:



circeAnd then went down to the ship,

Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and

We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,

Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also

Heavy with weeping, so winds from sternward

Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,

Circe’s this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.

Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,

Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day’s end.



Go, song, surely thou mayest

Whither it please thee

For so art thou ornate that thy reasons

Shall be praised from thy understanders,

With others hast thou no will to make company.



HathorWhen Hathor was bound in that box

Afloat on the sea wave

Came Mava swimming with light hand lifted in overstroke

Sea blossom wreathed in her locks,

‘What are you box?’

‘I am Hathor.’

Che mai da me non si parte il diletto

Fulvida di folgore

Came here with Glaucus unnoticed, nec ivi in harum

Nec in harum ingressus sum.

Discuss this in bed said the lady.



YongzhengTill the blue grass turn yellow

And the yellow leaves float in the air

And Iong Cheng (Canto 61)

Of the line of Kang Hi

By the silk cords of the sunlight

Non disunia,

2nd year

2nd month

2nd day

SHENG U, the Edict

Each year in the elder spring, that is the first month

Of the spring time,

The herald shall incite yr/ compliance

As to building temples for the benefit of contractors

Or images for the benefit of gilders,

The incense market will benefit

From your wives’ green dresses

As they run around mid riff-raff

Acquiring merit by comedy

Or by tragedy after fool vows.

To release souls with burnt paper?


1 Comment

Filed under Culture

One response to “The Cantos of Ezra Pound

  1. Stanislavskij

    Haha, not look stuff up. Oh you, Ezra. The Cantos got a bit out of hand in my opinion. More like very fragmented diaries by the end.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s