Ezra Weston Loomis Pound

from "the Cantos"

Marco Montagnin


Dido choked up with sobs, for her Sicheus
Lies heavy in my arms, dead weight
Drowning, with tears, new Eros

Eleanor (she spoiled in a British climate)
” Ελανδρος ed Έλέπτολις, and
poor old Homer blind,
blind as a bat,
Ear, ear for the sea-surge;
rattle of old men’s voices.
And then the phantom Rome,
marble narrow for seats
«Si pulvis nullus» said Ovid,
«Erit, nullum tamen excute.»
Then file and candles, e li mestiers ecoutes;
Scene for the battle only, but still scene,
Pennons and standards y cavals armatz
Not mere succession of strokes, sightless narration,
To Dante’s «ciocco», brand struck in the game.

Un peu moisi, plancher plus bas que le jardin.

«Contre le lambris, fauteuil de paille,
«Un vieux piano, et sous le baromètre…»

The old men’s voices, beneath the columns of false marble,
The modish and darkish walls,
Discreeter gilding, and the panelled wood
Suggested, for the leasehold is
Touched with an imprecision… about three squares;
The house too thick, the paintings
A shade too oiled.
And the great domed head, con gli occhi onesti e tardi
Moves before me, phantom with weighted motion,
Gravi incessu, drinking the tone of things,
And the old voice lifts itself
weaving an endless sentence.
We also made ghostly visits, and the stair
That knew us, found us again on the turn of it,
Knocking at empty rooms, seeking for buried beauty;
But the sun-tanned, gracious and well-formed fingers
Lift no latch of bent bronze, no Empire handle
Twists for the knocker’s fall; no voice to answer.
A strange concierge, in place of the gouty-footed.
Sceptic against all this one seeks the living,
Stubborn against the fact. The wilted flowers
Brushed out a seven year since, of no effect.
Damn the partition! Paper, dark brown and stretched,
Flimsy and damned partition.
Ione, dead the long year
My lintel, and Liu Ch’e’s.
Time blacked out with the rubber.
The Elysée carries a name on
And the bus behind me gives me a date for peg;
Low ceiling and the Erard and the silver,
These are in «time». Four chairs, the bow-front dresser,
The panier of the desk, cloth top sunk in.
«Beer-bottle on the statue’s pediment!
«That, Fritz, is the era, to-day against the past,
«Contemporary.» And the passion endures.
Against their action, aromas. Rooms, against chronicles.
Smaragdos, chrysolithos; De Gama wore striped pants in Africa
And «Mountains of the sea gave birth to troops»;

La vieille commode en acajou:
beer-bottles of various strata,
But is she dead as Tyro? In seven years?
Έλέναυs, έλανδρος, έλέπτολις
The sea runs in the beach-groove, shaking the floated pebbles,
The scarlet curtain throws a less scarlet shadow;
Lamplight at Buovilla, e quel remir,
And all that day
Nicea moved before me
And the cold grey air troubled her not
For all her naked beauty, bit not the tropic skin.
And the long slender feet lit on the curb’s marge
And her moving height went before me,
We alone having being.
And all that day, another day:
Thin husks I had known as men,
Dry casques of departed locusts
speaking a shell of speech…
Propped between chairs and table…
Words like the locust-shells, moved by no inner being:
A dryness calling for death;

Another day, between walls of a sham Mycenian,
«Toc» sphinxes, sham-Memphis columns,
And beneath the jazz a cortex, a stiffness or stillness,
Shell of the older house.
Brown-yellow wood, and the no colour plaster,
Dry professorial talk…
now stilling the ill beat music,
House expulsed by this house.

Square even shoulders and the satin skin,
Gone cheeks of the dancing woman,
Still the old dead dry talk, gassed out –
It is ten years gone, makes stiff about her a glass,
A petrefaction of air.
The old room of the tawdry class asserts itself;
The young men, never!
Only the husk of talk.
O voi che siete in piccioletta barca,
Dido choked up with sobs, for her Sicheus
Lies heavy in my arms, dead weight
Drowning, with tears, new Eros,

And the life goes on, mooning upon bare hills;
Flame leaps from the hand, the rain is listless,
Yet drinks the thirst from our lips,
solid as echo,
Passion to breed a form in shimmer of rain-blur;
But Eros drowned, drowned, heavy, half dead with tears
For dead Sicheus.

Life to make mock of motion:
For the husks, before me, move,
The words rattle: shells given out by shells.                                            Desmond  
The live man, out of lands and prisons,                                                    Fitzgerald
shakes the dry pods,
Probes for old wills and friendships, and the big locust-casques
Bend to the tawdry table,
Lift up their spoons to mouths, put forks in cutlets,
And make sound like the sound of voices.
Being more live than they, more full of flames and voices
Ma se morisse!
Credesse caduto da sé, ma se morisse.
And the tall indifference moves,
a more living shell,
Drift in the air of fate, dry phantom, but intact.
O Alessandro, chief and thrice warned, watcher,
Eternal watcher of things,
Of things, of men, of passions.
Eyes floating in dry, dark air,
E biondo, with glass-grey iris, with an even side-fall hair
of The stiff, still features.[1]

[1] Ezra Pound, I Cantos, Mondadori, Verona 2005, pp.46-52

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