Ezra Pound – Canto LXXXI

AG: So I’ll just read that little fragment of  (Ezra) Pound (“Your eyen two wol sleye me soddenly/I may the beaute of hem nat susteyne”) – It’s a little bit of.. little bit of gossip. I’ll just read it, read it for what it sounds like to you. I’ll read the whole Canto – Canto 81 – for whatever sense it makes, as a collage of Pound’s prison mental gossip (thinking to himself in prison, notating down little…little nostalgic recollections of pre-World War I)

[Allen proceeds to read, in its entirety, (with passing notations), Ezra Pound’s Canto LXXXI

“Zeus lies in Ceres’ bosom/Taishan is attended of loves/ under Cythera, before sunrise/And he said: “Hai aqui mucho catolicismo – (sounded/catolithismo/y muy poco reliHion.” – (as much… “here there is much Catholicism and very little religion”) – “and he said: “Yo creak que los reyes desparecen” – (“I think Kings will disappear”)- “(Kings will, I think, disappear)/This was Padre Jose Elizondo/in 1906 and in 1917/or about 1917/ and Dolores said: “come pan non”, eat bread, me lad/Sargent had painted her” – (John Singer) – “before he descended/ i.e. if he descended/but in those days he did thumb sketches, /impressions of the Velasquez in the Museo del Prado/and books cost a peseta,/brass candlesticks in proportion,/hot winds came from the marshes/and death chill from the mountains.? And later Bowers wrote; “but such hatred/I have never conceived such”/And the London reds wouldn’t show up his friends/(i.e. friends of Franco/ working in London and in Alcazar)/forty years gone, they said “go back to the station to eat/you can sleep here for a peseta”/ goat bells tinkled all night/and the hostess grinned: Eso es lute, haw!/mi marido es muerto/ (it is mourning, my husband is dead)/when she gave me a paper to write on/with a black border half an inch or more deep, / say 5/8ths, of the locanda/”We call all foreigners frenchies”/and the egg broke in Cabranez’ pocket/ thus making history. Basil says..” – (Basil Bunting, he’s talking about his friend) – “they beat drums for three days/ till all the drumheads were busted/ (simple village fiesta)/and as for his life in the Canaries…/Possum observed – (that’s T.S.Eliot he spoke of Eliot as “Possum” – a nickname) –  “that the local portagoose folk dance/was danced by the same dancers in divers localities/in political welcome…/the technique of demonstration/Cole studied that (not G.D.H, Horace)/ “You will find”, said old Andre Spire,/that every man on that board (Credit Agricole)” – (Credit Agricole – the bank – Credit Agricultural Bank) – ” has a brother-in-law/ “You the one, I the few”/said John Adams/speaking of fears in the abstract/to his volatile friend Mr Jefferson/(To break the pentameter, that was the first heave)/ or as Jo Bard says: they never speak to each other/if it is baker and concierge visibly/it is La Rouchefoucauld and de Maintenon audibly./”Te cavero le budella”/”La corata a te”/In less than a geological epoch/said Henry Mencken: – (The reference here is to Mencken saying, “A new idea will never get through the public’s skull in less than a geological epic”  – I’d say, it’s true. I saw the other day that the President is going to restore the secret powers of the CIA) – “In less than a geological epoch/said Henry Mencken/”Some cook, some do not cook/ some things cannot be altered”/ lugx.. ….’emon poti dwma aon andra/What counts is the cultural level./ thank Benin for this table ex packing box” – (Benin mask? – the African civilization  – Benin sculpture – His (Pound’s) guard was a  black man, (a) soldier, – whose face was like a mask from Benin (he says earlier)) – “thank Benin for this table ex packing box/ “down yu tell no one I made it”/from a mask fine as any in Frankfurt” – (the great Frankfurt Museum of African Sculpture) – “”It’ll get you offn th’ groun”/Light as the branch of Kuanon/And at first disappeared with shoddy/the bare ram-shackle quasi, but then saw the/high buggy wheels/and was reconciled/ George Santayana arriving in the port of Boston/ and kept to the end of his life that faint thethear/ of the Spaniard” / “as grace quasi imperceptible/as did Muss the v for u of Romagna/and said..” –  (Santayana, that is) – “the grief was a full act/repeated for each new condolers/working up to a climax/and George Horace said he wd/ “get Beveridge” (Senator)/Beveridge wouldn’t talk and he wouldn’t write for the papers/but George got him by campin’ in his hotel/and assailin’ him at lunch breakfast an’ dinner/three articles/and my ole man went on hoein’ corn/while George was a-tellin’ him,/come across a vacant lot/where you’d occasionally see a wild rabbit/or mebbe only a loose one?AOI!/a leaf in the current/at my grates no Althea.”

Arnold Dolmetsch (1858-1940

“Yet/Ere the season died a-cold/Borne upon a zephyr’s shoulder/I rose through the aureate sky/ Lawes and Jenkyns guard thy rest/Dolmetsch ever be thy guest,/ Hath he tempered the viol’s wood/To enforce  both the grave  and the acute?/ Has he curved us the bowl if the lute/Lawes and Jenkyns guard thy rest/Dolmetsch ever be thy guest/ Hast ‘ou fashioned so airy a mood.To draw up leaf from the root?/Hast ‘ou found  a cloud  so light/As seemed neither mist nor shade?/  Then resolve me, tell me aright/If Waller sang or Dowland played/ “Your eyen two wol sleye me soddenly/I may the beaute of hem nat susteyne”/And for 180 years almost nothing./ Ed ascoltando al leggier mormorio/ 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’ – (there’s the description of some sort of mystical experience that he had in the height (or in the depths) of his depression in the prison camp) – “color diastasis,/ Careless or unaware it had not the/whole tent’s room/nor was place for the full EidwV /interpass, penetrate/ casting but shade beyond the other lights/sky’s clear/night’s sea/green of the mountain pool/ shonefrom the unmasked eyes in half-mask’s space./ What thou lov’st 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, though it were in the halls of hell,/ What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage,/What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee/The ant’s 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 dress-maker, a chic dress-maker of the pre-War era (or between the Wars). It would be like, say, “Pull down thy vanity, who is the Frenchman now?.. Dior, yes, “Pull down thy vanity, Christian Dior, pull down!”) – “The green casque has outdone your elegance./”Master thyself, then others shall thee bear”/ Pull down thy vanity/ Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail./ A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,/ Half-black, half-white/Nor knowest’ou wing from tail/Pull down thy vanity/How mean tiny hates/Fostered in falsity/Pull down thy vanity,/I say pull down./But to have done instead of not doing/thisis not vanity./ To have, with decency, knocked/ That a Blunt should open” – (When Pound first went to England, he went to visit the Georgian poet, William Scawen Blunt, knocked on the door, just walked up to his house)  – “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….” – ( It’s kind of nice – “”To have gathered from the air a live tradition/or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame”)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately seventeen-and-a-quarter minutes in  [the reading of Canto LXXXI begins at approximately eighteen-minutes in) and concluding at approximately twenty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in]

[Two readings of Pound himself reading Canto LXXXI (from the Pisan Cantos), recorded in Spoleto, Italy, in 1967, can be heard here and here]

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