Ezra Pound’s Cantos – 2

AG: So he [Ezra Pound]’s gathering (in Canto LXXXI) from “fine old ear” of Chaucer, that marriage of sense, intellect and song Your eyen two wol slee me sodenly” – and the only reason I read that was to see how that line re-echoes throughout the centuries and up to Pound’s time, and why he thought that line was so great, and why the particular kind of poetry we’re reading is so interesting, because it’s poetry where music is subtle (the music of the words is very subtle) and deliberate and clear, syllable-by-syllable, like pieces of iron put in place,like “this ay night, this ay night,every night and all” or like that other poem we were looking at that had a pretty little sound (you know,”I sing of a mayden/That is makeles;/King of all kings/To her son she ches./ He came al so still/There his mother was,/As dew in Aprille/That falleth on the grass” – the funny little syncopations that came there). I was looking at it again and it’s… you hear them, it permenantly alters the molecular structure of your nervous system, (so) that subtle vibration, literally, alters the functioning of your nervous system, so that you become attuned to that kind of delicate vibration and language. As you can see from the Pound that I was reading –“Hast ‘ou fashioned so airy a mood?” Pound’s ear, also, like the author of I sing of a mayden”, is like a kind of perfect balanced ear, that’s really delicate – for rhythmic syncopation, I guess, (it) would be….

[to Student] – Were you able to find any of the Piers Plowman?
Student: No

AG: Nowhere? – Okay, so what else did I have? I had a couple of other little things cued up – Oh yes, in Pound’s Cantos – (page four-forty-one). The first day (in this class) I was paraphrasing something he said about a“phalanx of particulars”, remember? It comes from The Cantos. When I was looking for this, the passage about Lawes and Jenkyns guard thy rest/Dolmetsch ever be thy guest”… Let’s see.

“But in Russia they bungled it and did not apparently/ grasp the idea of work-certificate/ and started the New Economic Plan with disaster/ and the immolation of men to machinery/and the canal work and gt./mortality, (which is as may be)/and went in for dumping in order to trouble the waters/in the userers’ hell-a-dice/all of which leads to the death cells/each in the name of its god”- (whatever theory, the CIA, the Russians, the Afghanistanis, the Mullahs..) – all of which leads to the death cells/each in the name of its god/or longevity because as says Aristotle/philosophy is not for young men/their Katholou can not be sufficiently derived from/their hekasta/their generalities cannot be born from a sufficient phalanx/ of particulars” (from Canto LXXIV)

– (that’s a pretty funny idea. So I think he wrote it down in another form – so.. “their generalities cannot be born from a sufficient phalanx of particulars” is the tag line, or the quote – or Aristotle’s term, “the Katholou cannot be sufficiently derived from hekasta -a good poem) – So, remember that, remember, always derive your Katholou from a hekasta!

Student: (But what does it mean?  I don’t understand, tho’)

AG: Pound says it next. “Their generalities..”,  their “philosophy’s not for young men”, because their generalities cannot be born from a sufficient phalanx of particulars” – (i.e. they haven’t had enough experiences, specific experiences, from which to draw conclusions, haven’t gone through the ‘Sixties ten times, till they realize what to do the next time)

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately twenty-seven-and-three-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately thirty-three-and-a-quarter minutes in]

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