Ezra Pound – Cantos – LXXXI – 2

 

Allen Ginsberg’s commentary on Ezra Pound  continues

AG: …(H)e (Ezra Pound)’s in a cage.. he’s in a prison-camp cage in Italy at the end of World War II, when the Allies have over-run Italy and he’s been captured. And in order to save him from being killed by the pro-Communist partisans (since he had taken Mussolini‘s part in the war and stayed in Italy and made broadcasts), the Chief of American Counter-Intelligence, a man named James Angleton, who had a magazine named Furioso in Carleton College in 1939 with Reed Whittemore, contemporary poet, living in Washington.. Angleton had some kind of special orders to grab Pound real fast (before he got lynched like Mussolini and hung by his heels) and put him in the prison camp in a cage where he’d be safer, guarded by black American soldiers. And so these Cantos (sic – The Pisan Cantos) were written in the,, what are they called?,,,cage, which is an unshaded, barred cage, maybe ten by ten, or something, out in the open air and cold where he….went to work…

“And for 180 years almost nothing.” – “Ed ascoltando al leggier mormorio…” (Does anybody know what that means? – Ed ascoltando al leggier mormorio? – Well  [Editorial note – “and listening to the gentle murmur”] – “there came new subtlety of eyes into my tent” – (that was some kind of a strange vision he had, clear light) – “there came new subtlety of eyes into my tent/there came new subtlety of eyes into my tent,/whether of the spirit or hypostasis,/but what the blindfold hides/or at carneval/nor any pair showed anger/Saw but the eyes and stance between the eyes,/colour, diastasis,/careless or unaware it had not the/whole tent’s room/nor was place for the full Eidolon – [ideal vision] – /interpass, penetrate/casting but shade beyond the other lights/sky’s clear/night’s sea/green of the mountain pool/shone from the unmasked eyes in half-mask’s space.”
“What thou lovest well remains,/ the rest is dross/What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee/What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage/Whose world, or mine or theirs or is it of none?/ First came the seen, then thus the palpable/Elysium – [Heaven] – though it were in the halls of hell,/What thou lovest well is thy true heritage/What thou lovest well shall not be reft from thee…” – and here – “What thou lov’st well [sic] shall not be reft from thee” – (“What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage)”_

“The ant’s a centaur in his dragon world. – (a great line – “The ant’s a centaur..” “ant is a centaur” – apostrophe “s:” – the ant is a centaur in his dragon world.” – “Pull down thy vanity, it is not man/Made courage, or made order, or made grace,/Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down./Learn of the green world what can be thy place/In scaled invention or true artistry,/Pull down thy vanity,/Paquin pull down!..”- {“Paquin” was a nineteen-twenties, nineteen-thirties courturier in Paris like .. (Yves) Saint-Laurent] – Paquin – “Paquin pull down thy vanity/The green casque has outdone your elegance./

“Master thyself, then others shall thee beare” – [late-comer comes in – “hi”] – “Master thyself, then others shall thee beare! ” – we’re reading Pound – “Master thyself, then others shall thee beare” ( (he’s quoting there – I guess Chaucer maybe again) -“Pull down thy vanity/Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,/A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,/Half black half white/Nor knowst’ou wing from tail” – [“knowst’ou” – K-N-O-W-S-T, apostrophe O-U – “knowst’ou”] – “Nor knowst’ou wing from tail”, you see, “Or have taste the bag o’ the bee” – “Pull down thy vanity/Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,/A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,/Half black half white/Nor knowst’ou wing from tail”/ Pull down thy vanity/How mean thy hates/Fostered in falsity,/Pull down thy vanity,/Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,/Pull down thy vanity,/I say pull down.”

“But to have done instead of not doing/ this is not vanity/To have, with decency..” [to have the decency] “..knocked/That a Blunt should open.. (so that when Pound first came to London, 1905 – or 1904, whenever, he went to see the poet Wilfred Scawen Blunt, and he wanted to see.. everybody he could meet…(W.B.) Yeats.. (he) went to visit, pay hommage to all the poets – and he has this one line – “Swinburne, my only miss” (Swinburne was still alive when he was there, I think – and  he was the only one he missed – “Swinburne, my only miss” )

“But..to have with decency, knocked/That a Blunt should open” – (Blunt was not a very good poet but to have the decency to go visit him anyway) – “To have gathered from the air a live tradition” – (this is a great line) – “To have gathered from the air a live tradition /or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame/ This is not vanity./Here error is all in the not done,/all in the diffidence that faltered . . .” – So don’t falter in your diffidence!  be a warrior! – That’s really good, that’s Pound’s whole aesthetic thesis basically – “To have gathered from the air a live tradition/ /or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame” / This is not vanity./Here error is all in the not done,/all in the diffidence..” – [do you know “diffidence”? – sort of a self-doubt, hesitancy to knock, to open.] – So that’s real interesting between (Ben) Jonson and Pound – “To have gathered from the air a live tradition”, or from Jonson’s “fine old ear” the durable cadence.

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately forty-six minutes in and concluding at approximately fifty-three-and-three-quarter minutes in]

[See an earlier examination of these materials – here]

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