Ezra Pound’s Birthday

Ezra Pound (1885-1972)

We featured a couple of days ago, the early English lyric, “Summer is Icumen in(commonly known as “The Cuckoo Song”)

Ezra Pound made a playful parody of it.

AG:  …And I forgot there’s this little paraphrase by Ezra Pound of “The Cuckoo Song”. Has anybody heard that or seen that?..How many know of Pound? (It’s) called “Ancient Music”So let’s go back to that. where is that? ” The Cuckoo Song”? – ” Sumer is Icumen in,/Loudly sing, cuckoo!/Grows the seed and blows the mead,/And springs the wood anew.”

(and Pound):

“Winter is icummen in,/Lhude sing Goddamm./ Raineth drop and staineth slop,/ And how the wind doth ramm!/ Sing: Goddamm./ Skiddeth bus and sloppeth us,/ An ague hath my ham./ Freezeth river, turneth liver,/ Damn you, sing: Goddamm./ Goddamm, Goddamm, ’tis why I am, Goddamm,/ So ‘gainst the winter’s balm./ Sing goddamm, damm, sing Goddamm./ Sing goddamm, sing goddamm, DAMM.”

And then, (a) note, “This is not folk music, but Dr. Ker writes that the tune is found under the Latin words of a very ancient canon.” (here he’s being mock-pedantic/campy)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty minutes in and concluding at approximately twenty-one minutes in]

Ezra Pound’s birthday today. We draw your attention to previous birthday postings –here
herehere, and here

Harvard’s Woodberry Poetry Room has recently preserved a rare acetate from 1939 of Pound reading – see here

The publication of the curiously-named Posthumous Cantos is noted here 

Here’s Pasolini and Pound together (Pier Paolo Pasolini reading to Pound (in Italian) from his Cantos  (Canto LXXXI) (“Pull down thy vanity”)

Quello che veramente ami rimane,/il resto è scorie/ Quello che veramente ami non ti sarà strappato/Quello che veramente ami è la tua vera eredità/Il mondo a chi appartiene, a me, a loro/o a nessuno?/rima venne il visibile, quindi il palpabile/Elisio, sebbene fosse nelle dimore dinferno,/Quello che veramente ami è la tua vera eredità

La formica è un centauro nel suo mondo di draghi./Strappa da te la vanità, non fu luomo/A creare il coraggio, o lordine, o la grazia,/Strappa da te la vanità, ti dico strappala/Impara dal mondo verde quale sia il tuo luogo/Nella misura dellinvenzione, o nella vera abilità dellartefice,

Strappa da te la vanità,/ Paquin strappala!/ Il casco verde ha vinto la tua eleganza.

Dominati, e gli altri ti sopporteranno/ Strappa da te la vanità/ Sei un cane bastonato sotto la grandine,/ Una pica rigonfia in uno spasimo di sole,/ Metà nero metà bianco/ Né distingui unala da una coda/ Strappa da te la vanità/ Come son meschini i tuoi rancori/ Nutriti di falsità./Strappa da te la vanità,/ Avido di distruggere, avaro di carità,/ Strappa da te la vanità,/ Ti dico strappala.

Ma avere fatto in luogo di non avere fatto/ questa non è vanità/ Avere, con discrezione, bussato/ Perché un Blunt aprisse/ Aver raccolto dal vento una tradizione viva/ o da un bellocchio antico la fiamma inviolata/ Questa non è vanità./ Qui lerrore è in ciò che non si è fatto, nella diffidenza che fece esitare…..

“What thou lovest well remains,/ the rest is dross/ What thou lovst well shall not be reft from thee/ What thou lovst 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, though it were in the halls of hell, What thou lovest well is thy true heritage/ What thou lovst well shall not be reft from thee /The ants 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!/ The green casque has out done your elegance./ Master thy self, then others shall thee beare/ Pull down thy vanity/ Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,/ A swollen mag pie in a fitful sun,/ Half black half white/ Nor knowstou 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, knocked/ That a Blunt should open/ 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.

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