Monday again, and off soon to work. Today we have a couple of Poems Cadmus & Harmonia (Matthew Arnold), and a very interesting work by Robert Anton Wilson: commentary on The Cantos of Ezra Pound. This is a delightful work.
All the art today is by Evelyn De Morgan, one of my favourite Pre-Raphaelite painters. I have featured her works before, but this is a little more in depth. There is a small bio after this section on her.
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The Featured Artist: Evelyn De Morgan
AKA Evelyn Pickering
Birthplace: London, England
Cause of death: unspecified
Remains: Buried, Brookwood Cemetery, London, England
British Pre-Raphaelite painter
De Morgan studied at the Slade School. She lived in Florence for a while with her Pre-Raphaelite painter uncle John Rodham Spencer Stanhope. She was influenced by Edward Burne-Jones and Sandro Botticelli.
Her best known painting is probably Ariadne in Naxos. Other well known paintings by De Morgan include Queen Eleanor and Fair Rosamund, Gloria In Excelsis, and The Love Potion.
Husband: William de Morgan (ceramicist; married 1887; died 1917)
Father: Percival Pickering (lawyer)
Mother: Anna Maria Wilhelmina Spencer-Stanhope
It took them 24 hours how to break the news that Mr. Cheney is not to be trusted with a gun…
Where do you stand?
1967 anatomy book shows Japanese monster innards
Furnished home found in storm drain
Cadmus & Harmonia (Matthew Arnold)
Far, far from here,
The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay
Among the green Illyrian hills; and there
The sunshine in the happy glens is fair,
And by the sea, and in the brakes.
The grass is cool, the sea-side air
Buoyant and fresh, the mountain flowers
More virginal and sweet than ours.
And there, they say, two bright and aged snakes,
Who once were Cadmus and Harmonia,
Bask in the glens or on the warm sea-shore,
In breathless quiet, after all their ills;
Nor do they see their country, nor the place
Where the Sphinx lived among the frowning hills,
Nor the unhappy palace of their race,
Nor Thebes, nor the Ismenus, any more.
There those two live, far in the Illyrian brakes!
They had stay’d long enough to see,
In Thebes, the billow of calamity
Over their own dear children roll’d,
Curse upon curse, pang upon pang,
For years, they sitting helpless in their home,
A grey old man and woman; yet of old
The Gods had to their marriage come,
And at the banquet all the Muses sang.
Therefore they did not end their days
In sight of blood, but were rapt, far away,
To where the west-wind plays,
And murmurs of the Adriatic come
To those untrodden mountain-lawns; and there
Placed safely in changed forms, the pair
Wholly forgot their first sad life, and home,
And all that Theban woe, and stray
For ever through the glens, placid and dumb.
Robert Anton Wilson commentary on
The Cantos of Ezra Pound
Ez told his father, Homer[!] Pound, that
the theme of metamorphoses dominates this canto
[I think Ez has multiple realities, not just mutltiple fathers.
He walks an uneasy waltz between Method Acting and Multiple
Personality Disorder, like some nitwit “channeling,”
but instead of producing their horsesht he somehow
produces great poetry. Robert Graves, oddly, said
all first-rate poetry emerges in semi-trance.
And Batty Billy Blake said a buncha naked angles
dictated his poems to him.]
This Canto seems psychedelic……..
HANG it all, Robert Browning,
a] Emphatic departure from
archaic style & subject of Canto I —
metamorphosis of English language/paideuma
b] parody of the typical Browning opening
–abrupt, colloquial and definitely somebody
speaking to somebody else
c] parody of Ez’s own frequent use of that
style of opening in his early poems
there can be but the one “Sordello.”
But Sordello, and my Sordello?
The central “problems” of the Cantos–
can we know historic truth? And even
if we do, can we transmute it into
poetry without distorting it?
Which Sordello means more or has
the most accuracy — Browning’s?
Pound’s? The academic historian’s?
Metamorphosis of Sordello from
live man to dead man to man living
again in 3 forms: Browning’s
poetic imagination; Pound’s poetic
imagination; academic history…
Lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana.
One bit of certitude — the earliest biograpical
reference to Sordello begins with that
sentence. [EP quotes it in his earliest
prose work, The Sprit of Romance, 1909,
with author and date.] If we accept this “primary source,”
Sordello came from Mantovana;
if we doubt it for any reason we still retain a fact:
at least one contemporary
thought Sordello hailed from thar.
We shall hear more of Sordello.
So-Shu churned in the sea.
A sarcasm by Li Po about a rival poet;
it introduces China and re-introduces
the sea…[Li Po meant that So-Shu
created more foam than waves;
cf EP’s polemics against “mere
ornament” and Frank Lloyd Wright’s
similar & contemporary revolution
against “mere ornament” in architecture.]
Seal sports in the spray-whited circles of cliff-wash,
Sleek head, daughter of Lyr,
eyes of Picasso
Under black fur-hood, lithe daughter of Ocean;
And the wave runs in the beach-groove:
Lovely use of Imagism, I think.
Can’t “see” a seal anymore without
seeing that Picasso eye…
Metamorphosis of sea theme — Mediterranean [Canto I]
to Chinese waters
[So-Shu] to Irish Sea
Sea-god’s name also changes from
[Latin] Neptune to [Irish] Lyr
Seals as daughters of Lir = familiar
theme in Irish legend. Some seals even
metamorph into human women
and marry men. The men always become
heartbroken when the “wives”
turn back to seals and return
to the sea.
“Eleanor, Elenaus and Eliptolis!”
Metamorphs Helen of Troy — Elena
in Greek — to Eleanor of Acquataine,
coming up in Canto VI. Both women
credited with fantastic beauty and
blamed for wars somebody else started.
Cf later theme of “dangerous beauty”…
The dark [Kali] side of the Goddess.
Elenaus, Eliptolis = destroyer of
ships, destroyer of cities [from
Aeschylus] pun on Elena/Eleanor
And poor old Homer, blind, blind as a bat,
Not Ez’s dad, but the Greek poet [poets?];
Ez may also have in mind the author
of Ulysses, then struggling with blindness
Ear, ear for the sea-surge, murmer of old men’s voices:
Wunnerful, how the sea-surge enters the
rhythm as it entered the ears of the
“Let her go back to the ships,
Back among Grecian faces, lest evil come on our own,
Evil and further evil, and a curse cursed on our children,
Moves, yes she moves like a goddess
And has the face of a god
and the voice of Schoeney’s daughters,
And doom goes with her in walking,
Let her go back to the ships,
back among Grecian voices.”
Translation from the Iliad, old men
of Troy worrying about Greek armies
coming to get Elena back.
Edith Sitwell loved the sea sound in
this passage. I love the way it mingles
that sea-rhythm with current speech patterns.
Classics no longer archaic as in
Canto I; EP making
Homer contemporary [just like Joyce]
“And doom goes with her on walking”:
I love that line; also love
“a curse cursed on our childen”
in which Sitwell heard two waves smashing
And by the beach-run, Tyro,
Twisted arms of the sea-god,
Lithe sinews of water, gripping her, cross-hold,
The rape of Tyro by sea-god Poseiden…
Why Greek gods often serial
rapists? Or do I digress? Schlain
blames it on the alphabet in
The Alphabet versus the Goddess…
Many hints in these early Canti of
overthrow of goddess religions
by god religions?
& I keep sensing Bucky Fuller’s
“Lithe sinews of water”: Imagism +
sea and sea-gods as identical…
many names for same “thing”….
phantapoetics + logopoetics
[amid a lot of melopoetics]
From an early LSD trip: “The ancients
didn’t ‘think’ of the sea as a god —
they SAW it as a god!”
Sea as symbol of metamorphosis.
[EP detested symbolism in general
but that didn’t keep him from
using it when apt*]:
*”Beauty is aptness to purpose” — Ez,
Machine Art, 1930
Glare azure of water, cold-welter, close cover,
Quiet sun-tawny sand-stretch,
The gulls broad out their wings,
nipping between the splay feathers;
Snipe come for their bath,
bend out their wing-joints,
Spread wet wings to the sun-film,
and IMO quite extraordinarily lovely
Now the major metamorphosis
via Ovid, Euripides and EP’s own
vivid imagist imagination:
And by Scios,
to left of the Naxos passage,
Naviform rock overgrown,
algae cling to its edge,
There is a wine-red glow in the shallows,
a tin flash in the sun-dazzle.
Those last 2 lines there may not rank
as greatest imagist couplet ever
but they have at least one nomination…
The ship landed in Scios,
men wanting spring-water,
And by the rock-pool a young boy loggy with vine-must,
“To Naxos? Yes, we’ll take you to Naxos,
Cum’ along lad.” “Not that way!”
“Aye, that way is Naxos.”
And I said: “It’s a straight ship.”
And an ex-convict out of Italy
knocked me into the fore-stays,
(He was wanted for manslaughter in Tuscany)
And the whole twenty against me,
Beginning of the story of Dionysus
kidnapped into slavery….
Mad for a little slave money.
Two of the major evils in Pound’s
universe — avarice and slavery —
joined in one line. Introduction
of economics theme. Note the
“mad”: in Richard St Victor, a major
source of structure in Cantos,
all obsessions = madness,
due to lack of balance.
These sailors thus continue the
Inferno of Canto I in a new form,
St Victor divided mind’s functions
into three: 1] mind without discipline,
driven by passions and obsessions;
2] disciplined rationality; 3] mind
united with objects or with allness
by love. EP uses these as analogs
of Dante’s Hell, Purgatory [purification/
alchemical Great Work] and Paradise.
More on that as we proceed!
And they took her out of Scios
And off her course…
And the boy came to, again, with the racket,
And looked out over the bows,
and to eastward, and to the Naxos passage.
God-sleight then, god-sleight:
Ship stock fast in sea-swirl,
Ivy upon the oars, King Pentheus,
Acoetes, the honest sailor, now in
Euripides Bachae, telling this story
as warning to Pentheus. Pentheus
tried to stamp out Dionysian relgion:
first image of religious bigotry
in the poem
Maybe EP also had in mind
what he later calls “the
constriction of Bachus” in U.S.
— alcohol prohibition.
grapes with no seed but sea-foam,
Ivy in scupper hole.
Aye, I, Acoetes, stood there,
and the god stood by me,
Water cutting under the keel,
Sea-break from stern forrards,
wake running off from the bow,
And where was gunwale, there now was vine-trunk,
And tenthril where cordage had been,
grape-leaves on the rowlocks,
Heavy vine on the oarshafts,
Emphasis on Dionysus as god of
vegetation, not just of wine
And now the great cats of Dionysus
appear, first as sound and sensation:
And, out of nothing, a breathing,
hot breath on my ankles,
Then starting to manifest in vision:
Beasts like shadows in glass,
a furred tail upon nothingness.
Smell, sound and sight combined:
Lynx-purr, and heathery smell of beasts,
where tar smell had been,
Sniff and pad-foot of beasts,
eye-glitter out of black air.
The sky overshot, dry, with no tempest,
Sniff and pad-foot of beasts,
fur brushing my knee-skin,
Rustle of airy sheaths,
dry forms in the aether.
And the ship like a keel in ship-yard,
slung like an ox in smith’s sling,
Ribs stuck fast in the ways,
grape-cluster over pin-rack,
void air taking pelt.
WoW!!! especially “void air taking pelt”
Those Magick Cats of Dionysus — Ez had a thing about
cats. Always had a dozen or more. Often a lot more.
Took in strays, the works. Hemingway called Ez
& Dorothy’s pad in Rapollo “the cat house.”
Lifeless air become sinewed,
feline leisure of panthers,
Leopards sniffing the grape shoots by scupper-hole,
Crouched panthers by fore-hatch,
And the sea blue-deep about us,
green-ruddy in shadows,
And Lyaeus: “From now, Acoetes, my altars,
Fearing no bondage,
fearing no cat of the wood,
Safe with my lynxes,
feeding grapes to my leopards,
Olibanum is my incense,
the vines grow in my homage.”
Lyaeus: anudder name for Dionysus.
I’ve read an interlinear [Latin/English]
Ovid and find his sound [melopoetic]
great as Pound’s but in imagery [phantapoetic]
EP wins by a neck. At least in this passage.
The back-swell now smooth in the rudder-chains,
Black snout of a porpoise
where Lycabs had been,
Fish-scales on the oarsmen.
And I worship.
I have seen what I have seen.
When they brought the boy I said:
“He has a god in him,
though I do not know which god.”
And they kicked me into the fore-stays.
I have seen what I have seen:
Medon’s face like the face of a dory,
Arms shrunk into fins. And you, Pentheus,
Had as well listen to Tiresias, and to Cadmus,
or your luck will go out of you.
Fish-scales over groin muscles,
lynx-purr amid sea…
The greedy sailors metamorphed to fish =
Pound’s view of avarice descending
to pre-human evolution.
And of a later year,
pale in the wine-red algae,
If you will lean over the rock,
the coral face under wave-tinge,
Rose-paleness under water-shift,
Ileuthyeria, fair Dafne of sea-bords,
The swimmer’s arms turned to branches,
Who will say in what year,
fleeing what band of tritons,
The smooth brows, seen, and half seen,
now ivory stillness.
Ileuthyria — Pound’s invention, combining
Eleuthyria, freedom, with Ieliethria,
goddess of childbirth. Cf later creation
of “Isis Kuanon,” final name of goddess
in closing Cantos — Egyptian goddess of
childbirth [and other mysteries] +
Chinese goddess of infinite mercy.
Arms to branches = metamorphosis
again. Cd refer to several classic myths
And So-shu churned in the sea, So-shu also,
using the long moon for a churn-stick…
Foam on the waves? + repeat
Lithe turning of water,
sinews of Poseidon,
Black azure and hyaline,
glass wave over Tyro,
Another repeat. Structure of Cantos
more like symphony than traditional
poesy. But do look at the montages
of Griffith’s Intolerance as another
Close cover, unstillness,
bright welter of wave-cords,
Then quiet water,
quiet in the buff sands,
Sea-fowl stretching wing-joints,
splashing in rock-hollows and sand-hollows
In the wave-runs by the half-dune;
Glass-glint of wave in the tide-rips against sunlight,
pallor of Hesperus,
Grey peak of the wave,
wave, colour of grapes’ pulp,
Olive grey in the near,
far, smoke grey of the rock-slide,
Salmon-pink wings of the fish-hawk
cast grey shadows in water,
The tower like a one-eyed great goose
cranes up out of the olive-grove,
Sometimes a tower like a one-eyed great goose means a tower
like a one-eyed great goose. “Call pork pork in your
proposals,” one of EP’s favorite Chinese Emperors
instructs his subalterns.
The haiku also influenced EP — not
the 5-7-5 rule but the juxtaposition
of precise images.
And we have heard the fauns chiding Proteus
Proteus: yet another sea-god but also
a god of metamorphoses…
in the smell of hay under the olive-trees,
And the frogs singing against the fauns
in the half-light.
Fauns: permanence? Frogs: change?
I think of the fauns as permanent
because Crazy Uncle Ez defined gods, nymphs, dryads etc
as “eternal states of mind.”
Ends in mid-sentence again/
This Canto seems to me a summation of Cantos 1-19
with variations — new ideograms [concrete particulars]
illustrating major themes.
Sound slender, quasi tinnula,
nice aliteration without Swinburnian
quasi tinnula, “as if ringing” [Catullus];
you can almost hear the ringing
“Sweet song” [Homer]; Odysseus from Canto I,
this time tempted
by the Sirens…more Odyssean themes will recur
in this Canto, and later
Ligur’ aoide: Si no’us vei, Domna don plus mi cal,
Negus vezer mon bel pensar no val.”
“And if I see you not, lady who enflames me,
No sight is worth the beauty of my thought”
[Bernart de Ventadom];
seductive beauty, like the Sirens’ song,
but not destructive [leads to
not to crashing on rocks];
recorso of Provencal cult -of- love theme
Between the two almond trees flowering,
Two almond trees flowering: the uniquely
Poundian mix of simplicity and loveliness
The viel held close to his side;
And another: s’adora”.
“She is adored” [Cavalcanti]. I think Ez
takes this literally, a deliberate heresy against
and continuation of Provencal theme.
Cf Provencal/Cavalcaanti theme in Canto 6.
See EP’s essays “Psychology & Troubadours”
and “Cavalcanti” and maybe my Ishtar Rising.
[Dante put at least 2 of the Cavalcanti family
in Hell for heresy….]
“Possum ego naturae
non meminisse tuae!”
“Can I forget thy nature” or “thy inwit”
or “thy soul” [Propertius, praising Cynthia
for beauty not visible but felt];
EP cites this often in his prose as
proof that the troubadours did not
“invent” love, as cynics claim;
actually, Propertius praises Cynthia’s
kindness; cf Cunniza da Romano “who freed
her slaves on a Wednesday” [Cantos 6 & 30]
Qui son Properzio ed Ovidio.
Advice to go read Propertius and Ovid on amor
This “overture” combines English, Latin, Provencal,
Greek & Italian into a totally unique melodic structure
The boughs are not more fresh
where the almond shoots
take their March green.
And that year I went up to Freiburg,
And Rennert had said: Nobody, no, nobody
Knows anything about Provencal, or if there is anybody,
It’s old Levy.”
Rennert & Levy: leading scholars in Provencal
language and poetry — the subject of Pound’s M.A.
thesis and a source of many of his translations.
One minor but persistent theme
in the Cantos: Ez’s effort to discover
what the troubadours really meant….
And so I went up to Freiburg,
And the vacation was just beginning,
The students getting off for the summer,
Freiburg im Breisgau,
And everything clean, seeming clean, after Italy.
An ideogram: German towns always seem
clean after Italy. Chew on it.
And I went to old Levy, and it was by then 6.30
in the evening, and he trailed half way across Freiburg
before dinner, to see the two strips of copy,
Arnaut’s, settant’uno R. superiore (Ambrosiana)
Not that I could sing him the music.
Note echo of sea-surge rhythm recurrent
since Canto I.
(the two strips of copy,
Arnaut’s, settant’uno R. superiore (Ambrosiana)):
MS. in which Dante uses a Provencal “word,” noigandres,
from troubadour Arnaut Daniel. The meaning of
this “word” remains in dispute
And he said: Now is there anything I can tell you?”
And I said: I dunno, sir, or
“Yes, Doctor, what do they mean by noigandres?”
And he said: Noigandres! NOIgandres!
“You know for seex mon’s of my life
“Effery night when I go to bett, I say to myself:
“Noigandres, eh, noigandres,
“Now what the DEFFIL can that mean!”
Levy did have a guess, which follows shortly
Wind over the olive trees, ranunculae ordered,
By the clear edge of the rocks
The water runs, and the wind scented with pine
And with hay-fields under sun-swath.
Agostino, Jacopo and Boccata.
You would be happy for the smell of that place
And never tired of being there, either alone
Sound: as of the nightingale too far off to be heard.
Sandro and Boccata, and Jacopo Sellaio;
The ranunculae, and almond,
Italian landscapes and painters [and aromas]
hinting of the paradiso terrestre coming at the climax
of the poem
Boughs set espalier.
Duccio, Agostino; e l’olors –
The smell of that place – d’enoi ganres.
Espalier: against the wall
l’olors: the aromas
d’enoi gangres: staves off boredom
[Old Levy’s surmise! it’s two words]
Air moving under the boughs,
The cedars there in the sun,
Hay new cut on hill slope,
The last line uses monosylables to create
a chopped effect, as in EP’s Chinese translations.
He thought English verse had become too legato.
And the water there in the cut
Between the two lower meadows; sound,
the sound, as I have said, a nightingale
Too far off to be heard.
And the light falls, remir,
from her breasts to thighs.
remir: I gaze; another Provencal word
from Arnaut. This part of the paradiso
He was playing there at the palla,
Parisina – two doves for an altar – at the window,
” E’l Marchese
Stava per divenir pazzo
after it all.” And that was when Troy was down
Parsina Malatesta, cousin of Sigismundo [Cantos 8-11]
married Nicolo d’Este [El Marchese.]
When convinced she had an affair with his
son, Nic had them both beheaded.
Stava per divenir pazzo: and then he went
nutz [presumably from grief/guilt?]
Echo of Helen of Troy [Canto 2]
In general, Pound sees Rennaisance “villians”
as passion-driven, modern “villians” greed-driven.
[& once again, unlike Dante, Ez allows
for ambiguities and mixed cases]
Borso d’Este, 3rd son of Nic, continually
tried to bring peace between warring
And they came here and cut holes in rock,
Down Rome way, and put up the timbers;
And came here, condit Atesten…
History of d’Este family
“Peace! keep the peace, Borso.”
Borso d’Este, 3rd son of Nic, continually
tried to bring peace between warring
And he said: Some bitch has sold us
(that was Ganelon)
Nic Este becomes Roland, betrayed to the Moors
by Ganelon. Cf editing in Griffith’s Intolerance
[EP follows Chanson Roland, poem not history//
cf openings of Cantos 2 and 8….]
“They wont get another such ivory.”
[Roland’s horn high quality]
And he lay there on the round hill under the cedar
A little to the left of the cut (Este speaking)
By the side of the summit, and he said:
“I have broken the horn, bigod, I have
“Broke the best ivory, l’olofans.”
Jumping back and forth between Este and Roland:
the common theme, betrayal of trust
The ivory was from an elephant;
Roland broke the horn over the skull of
an Arab sent to finish him off…..
Understated irony: Roland is dying
but fusses about a broken horn
And he said:
“Tan mare fustes!”
Roland’s last words, in the Chanson.
“The wrong time.” EP often cited this as an example
of the power of brevity.
pulling himself over the gravel,
“Bigod! that buggar is done for,
“They wont get another such ivory.”
And they were there before the wall, Toro, las almenas,
(Este, Nic Este speaking)
Este “becomes” the Spanish national hero, El Cid,
no longer “being” Roland.
[“bigod,” “bugger” etc.: EP believed in following
the tone & style of the original, not making
all antient script sound like Queen James Bible.]
Under the battlement
(Epi purgo) peur de la hasle,
And the King said:
“God what a woman!
My God what a woman” said the King telo rigido.
“Sister!” says Ancures, “‘s your sister!”
Alf left that town to Elvira, and Sancho wanted
It from her, Toro and Zamora.
More scraps from the Poema del Cid.
The king got a hard-on [telo rigido] and then felt
abashed to learn the woman was his sister.
We see Eros in many forms in this Canto.
Neestho, le’er go back…
The English translates the Greek. Echo from
Canto 2: Helen again. “Let her go back to the ships”
in the autumn.”
“Este, go’ damn you.” between the walls, arras,
Painted to look like arras.
Glaze green and red feathers, jungle,
Basis of renewal, renewals;
Rising over the soul, green virid, of the jungle,
Lozenge of the pavement, clear shapes,
Broken, disrupted, body eternal,
Wilderness of renewals, confusion
Basis of renewals, subsistence,
Glazed green of the jungle;
Post-Darwinian view of nature as process,
not “thing.” Subject-rhyme with the many appearances
of Dionysus & Chinese fertility-gods. Damn
good rhythms in there too.
Zoe, Marozia, Zothar,
loud over the banners,
Glazed grape, and the crimson,
Este thinking of other unfaithful wives;
imagery of delerium
cosi Elena vedi,
where Helen walked
Eros combines joy, love and the continuation
of fertility? Sorta…
In the sunlight, gate cut by the shadow; And then the faceted air: Floating. Below, sea churning shingle. Floating, each on invisible raft, On the high current, invisible fluid, Borne over the plain, recumbent, The right arm cast back, the right wrist for a pillow, The left hand like a calyx, Thumb held against finger, the third, The first fingers petal’d up, the hand as a lamp, A calyx. From toe to head The purple, blue-pale smoke, as of incense; Wrapped each in burnous, smoke as the olibanumsSwift, as if joyous.Wrapped, floating; and the blue-pale smoke of the incense Swift to rise, then lazily in the wind as Aeolus over bean-field, As hay in the sun, the olibanum, saffron, As myrrh without styrax; Each man in his cloth, as on raft, on The high invisible current; On toward the fall of water; And then over that cataract, In air, strong, the bright flames, V shaped;
Another kind of paradiso–but Ez does not identify
D’amore mi mise, nel fuoco d’amore mi mise…
& yet another kind of paradiso: St Francis’s
“In the fire of love He has me,
in the fire of love He has me”
Yellow, bright saffron, croceo;
And as the olibanum bursts into flame,
The bodies so flamed in the air, took flame,
“…Mi mise, il mio sposo novello.”
[“… has me, my new spouse.”
This Canto may record indirectly the beginning
of Ez’s affair with violinist Olga Rudge and
his wife’s briefer affair with an unknown Egyptian.]
Shot from stream into spiral,
Or followed the water. Or looked back to the flowing;
Others approaching that cataract,
As to dawn out of shadow, the swathed cloths
Now purple and orange,
And the blue water dusky beneath them,
pouring there into the cataract,
With noise of sea over shingle,
hah hah ahah thmm thunb, ah
woh woh araha thumm, bhaaa.
And from the floating bodies, the incense
blue-pale, purple above them.
Shelf of the lotophagoi,
[lotus-eaters from Homer. It was their Paradise
we visited before St. Francis’s!]
Le paradis ne c’est pas artificiel
but is jagged
For a flash
for an hour
Then an hour
— Canto 90-something
writ in ye olde bugg house
I think he meant Baud was stoned on dope but he, Ez, wasn’t;
I see no evidence that Ez ever got stoned.
But he did pranayama everyday and spent
40some years meditatin’
on Chinese ideograms like cloud over
falling rain over
which he finally rendered “sensibility.”
Chinese + pranayama may = “stoned” perception……
Aerial, cut in the aether.
With the silver spilla,
The ball as of melted amber, coiled, caught up, and turned.
Lotophagoi of the suave nails, quiet, scornful,
” Feared neither death nor pain for this beauty;
If harm, harm to ourselves.”
[Wot all us dopers say….]
And beneath: the clear bones, far down,
Thousand on thousand,
” What gain with Odysseus,
” They that died in the whirlpool
” And after many vain labours,
” Living by stolen meat, chained to the rowingbench,
” That he should have a great fame
” And lie by night with the goddess?
” Their names are not written in bronze
” Nor their rowing sticks set with Elpenor’s”;
Nor have they mourned by sea-bord.
” That saw never the olives under Spartha
” With the leaves green and then not green,
” The click of light in their branches;
” That saw not the bronze hall nor the ingle
” Nor lay there with the queen’s waiting maids,
” Nor had they Circe to couch-mate, Circe Titania,
” Nor had they meats of Kalupso
” Or her silk shirts brushing their thighs.
” Give! What were they given?
” Poison and ear-wax,
[so they wdn’t hear the Sirens’ song]
and a salt grave by the bull-field,
” neson amumona, their heads like sea crows in the foam,
” Black splotches, sea-weed under lightning;
” Canned beef of Apollo, ten cans for a boat load.”
“Sweet song” — used ironically now.
This powerful and powerfully rhythmic passage
marks a turning point. Occidental individualism
seen as flawed at the root. Cf “the poor devils
dying of cold” in Cantos 9, 10; the trenches
of World War I in Canto 16….
Rescuing a sane
individualism and merging it with a
sane holism represent the major task
Ez set himself in the Cantos
And from the plain whence the water-shoot,
Across, back, to the right, the roads, a way in the grass,
The Khan’s hunting leopard, and young Salustio
And Ixotta; the suave turf
Ac farae familiares, and the cars slowly,
and the panthers, soft-footed.
Malatesta wealth….leopard from an unknown Khan…
ac farae familiares: wild animals
[sounds like Citizen Kane’s Xanadu];
Salustio Malatesta: murdered by his brother;
Ixotta: Sigismundo’s beloved, to whom the
Temple is dedicated.
Plain, as the plain of Somnus,
the heavy cars, as a triumph,
Gilded, heavy on wheel,
and the panthers chained to the cars,
Over suave turf, the foam wrapped,
Rose, crimson, deep crimson,
And, in the blue dusk, a colour as of rust in the sunlight,
Out of white cloud, moving over the plain,
Head in arm’s curve, reclining;
The road, back and away, till cut along the face of the rock,
And the cliff folds in like a curtain,
The road cut in under the rock
Square groove in the cliff’s face, as chiostri,
The columns crystal, with peacocks cut in the capitals,
The soft pad of beasts dragging the cars;
Cars, slow, without creak,
And at windows in inner roadside:
le donne e i cavalieri
smooth face under hennin,
The sleeves embroidered with flowers,
Great thistle of gold, or an amaranth,
Acorns of gold, or of scarlet,
Cramoisi and diaspre
slashed white into velvet;
Crystal columns, acanthus, sirens in the pillar heads;
And at last, between gilded barocco,
Two columns coiled and fluted,
Vanoka, leaning half naked,
waste hall there behind her.
The images and sounds transcend even Canto 2…..
A cry for Borso d’Este, who tried to bring
peace to Italy
commentary Copyright: Robert Anton Wilson