The cantos of ezra pound [from The Cantos of Ezra Pound (1972)]



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THE CANTOS OF EZRA POUND [from The Cantos of Ezra Pound (1972)]

Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972


Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972:THE CANTOS OF EZRA POUND [from The Cantos of Ezra Pound (1972), New Directions]

[Page 1]

A DRAFT OF XXX CANTOS

[Page 3]

I

1 And then went down to the ship,



2 Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and

3 We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,

4 Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also

5 Heavy with weeping, and winds from sternward

6 Bore us out onward with bellying canvas,

7 Circe's this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.

8 Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,

9 Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day's end.

10 Sun to his slumber, shadows o'er all the ocean,

11 Came we then to the bounds of deepest water,

12 To the Kimmerian lands, and peopled cities

13 Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever

14 With glitter of sun-rays

15 Nor with stars stretched, nor looking back from heaven

16 Swartest night stretched over wretched men there.

17 The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place

18 Aforesaid by Circe.

19 Here did they rites, Perimedes and Eurylochus,

20 And drawing sword from my hip

21 I dug the ell-square pitkin;

22 Poured we libations unto each the dead,

23 First mead and then sweet wine, water mixed with white flour.

24 Then prayed I many a prayer to the sickly death's-heads;

25 As set in Ithaca, sterile bulls of the best

26 For sacrifice, heaping the pyre with goods,

27 A sheep to Tiresias only, black and a bell-sheep.

28 Dark blood flowed in the fosse,

29 Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides

30 Of youths and of the old who had borne much;

31 Souls stained with recent tears, girls tender,


[Page 4]
32 Men many, mauled with bronze lance heads,

33 Battle spoil, bearing yet dreory arms,

34 These many crowded about me; with shouting,

35 Pallor upon me, cried to my men for more beasts;

36 Slaughtered the herds, sheep slain of bronze;

37 Poured ointment, cried to the gods,

38 To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine;

39 Unsheathed the narrow sword,

40 I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead,

41 Till I should hear Tiresias.

42 But first Elpenor came, our friend Elpenor,

43 Unburied, cast on the wide earth,

44 Limbs that we left in the house of Circe,

45 Unwept, unwrapped in sepulchre, since toils urged other.

46 Pitiful spirit. And I cried in hurried speech:

47 "Elpenor, how art thou come to this dark coast?

48 "Cam'st thou afoot, outstripping seamen?"

49 And he in heavy speech:

50 "Ill fate and abundant wine. I slept in Circe's ingle.

51 "Going down the long ladder unguarded,

52 "I fell against the buttress,

53 "Shattered the nape-nerve, the soul sought Avernus.

54 "But thou, O King, I bid remember me, unwept, unburied,

55 "Heap up mine arms, be tomb by sea-bord, and inscribed:

56 "A man of no fortune, and with a name to come.

57 "And set my oar up, that I swung mid fellows."

58 And Anticlea came, whom I beat off, and then Tiresias Theban,

59 Holding his golden wand, knew me, and spoke first:

60 "A second time? why? man of ill star,

61 "Facing the sunless dead and this joyless region?

62 "Stand from the fosse, leave me my bloody bever

63 "For soothsay."

64 And I stepped back,

65 And he strong with the blood, said then: "Odysseus


[Page 5]
66 "Shalt return through spiteful Neptune, over dark seas,

67 "Lose all companions." And then Anticlea came.

68 Lie quiet Divus. I mean, that is Andreas Divus,

69 In officina Wecheli, 1538, out of Homer.

70 And he sailed, by Sirens and thence outward and away

71 And unto Circe.

72 Venerandam,

73 In the Cretan's phrase, with the golden crown, Aphrodite,

74 Cypri munimenta sortita est, mirthful, orichalchi, with golden

75 Girdles and breast bands, thou with dark eyelids

76 Bearing the golden bough of Argicida. So that:
[Page 6]

II

77 Hang it all, Robert Browning,



78 there can be but the one "Sordello."

79 But Sordello, and my Sordello?

80 Lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana.

81 So-shu churned in the sea.

82 Seal sports in the spray-whited circles of cliff-wash,

83 Sleek head, daughter of Lir,

84 eyes of Picasso

85 Under black fur-hood, lithe daughter of Ocean;

86 And the wave runs in the beach-groove:

87 "Eleanor, and !"

88 And poor old Homer blind, blind, as a bat,

89 Ear, ear for the sea-surge, murmur of old men's voices:

90 "Let her go back to the ships,

91 Back among Grecian faces, lest evil come on our own,

92 Evil and further evil, and a curse cursed on our children,

93 Moves, yes she moves like a goddess

94 And has the face of a god

95 and the voice of Schoeney's daughters,

96 And doom goes with her in walking,

97 Let her go back to the ships,

98 back among Grecian voices."

99 And by the beach-run, Tyro,

100 Twisted arms of the sea-god,

101 Lithe sinews of water, gripping her, cross-hold,

102 And the blue-gray glass of the wave tents them,

103 Glare azure of water, cold-welter, close cover.

104 Quiet sun-tawny sand-stretch,

105 The gulls broad out their wings,

106 nipping between the splay feathers;
[Page 7]
107 Snipe come for their bath,

108 bend out their wing-joints,

109 Spread wet wings to the sun-film,

110 And by Scios,

111 to left of the Naxos passage,

112 Naviform rock overgrown,

113 algæ cling to its edge,

114 There is a wine-red glow in the shallows,

115 a tin flash in the sun-dazzle.

116 The ship landed in Scios,

117 men wanting spring-water,

118 And by the rock-pool a young boy loggy with vine-must,

119 "To Naxos? Yes, we'll take you to Naxos,

120 Cum' along lad." "Not that way!"

121 "Aye, that way is Naxos."

122 And I said: "It's a straight ship."

123 And an ex-convict out of Italy

124 knocked me into the fore-stays,

125 (He was wanted for manslaughter in Tuscany)

126 And the whole twenty against me,

127 Mad for a little slave money.

128 And they took her out of Scios

129 And off her course ...

130 And the boy came to, again, with the racket,

131 And looked out over the bows,

132 and to eastward, and to the Naxos passage.

133 God-sleight then, god-sleight:

134 Ship stock fast in sea-swirl,

135 Ivy upon the oars, King Pentheus,

136 grapes with no seed but sea-foam,

137 Ivy in scupper-hole.

138 Aye, I, Acoetes, stood there,

139 and the god stood by me,

140 Water cutting under the keel,


[Page 8]
141 Sea-break from stern forrards,

142 wake running off from the bow,

143 And where was gunwale, there now was vine-trunk,

144 And tenthril where cordage had been,

145 grape-leaves on the rowlocks,

146 Heavy vine on the oarshafts,

147 And, out of nothing, a breathing,

148 hot breath on my ankles,

149 Beasts like shadows in glass,

150 a furred tail upon nothingness.

151 Lynx-purr, and heathery smell of beasts,

152 where tar smell had been,

153 Sniff and pad-foot of beasts,

154 eye-glitter out of black air.

155 The sky overshot, dry, with no tempest,

156 Sniff and pad-foot of beasts,

157 fur brushing my knee-skin,

158 Rustle of airy sheaths,

159 dry forms in the æther.

160 And the ship like a keel in ship-yard,

161 slung like an ox in smith's sling,

162 Ribs stuck fast in the ways,

163 grape-cluster over pin-rack,

164 void air taking pelt.

165 Lifeless air become sinewed,

166 feline leisure of panthers,

167 Leopards sniffing the grape shoots by scupper-hole,

168 Crouched panthers by fore-hatch,

169 And the sea blue-deep about us,

170 green-ruddy in shadows,

171 And Lyæus: "From now, Acoetes, my altars,

172 Fearing no bondage,

173 fearing no cat of the wood,

174 Safe with my lynxes,

175 feeding grapes to my leopards,
[Page 9]
176 Olibanum is my incense,

177 the vines grow in my homage."

178 The back-swell now smooth in the rudder-chains,

179 Black snout of a porpoise

180 where Lycabs had been,

181 Fish-scales on the oarsmen.

182 And I worship.

183 I have seen what I have seen.

184 When they brought the boy I said:

185 "He has a god in him,

186 though I do not know which god."

187 And they kicked me into the fore-stays.

188 I have seen what I have seen:

189 Medon's face like the face of a dory,

190 Arms shrunk into fins. And you, Pentheus,

191 Had as well listen to Tiresias, and to Cadmus,

192 or your luck will go out of you.

193 Fish-scales over groin muscles,

194 lynx-purr amid sea ...

195 And of a later year,

196 pale in the wine-red algæ,

197 If you will lean over the rock,

198 the coral face under wave-tinge,

199 Rose-paleness under water-shift,

200 Ileuthyeria, fair Dafne of sea-bords,

201 The swimmer's arms turned to branches,

202 Who will say in what year,

203 fleeing what band of tritons,

204 The smooth brows, seen, and half seen,

205 now ivory stillness.

206 And So-shu churned in the sea, So-shu also,

207 using the long moon for a churn-stick ...

208 Lithe turning of water,

209 sinews of Poseidon,


[Page 10]
210 Black azure and hyaline,

211 glass wave over Tyro,

212 Close cover, unstillness,

213 bright welter of wave-cords,

214 Then quiet water,

215 quiet in the buff sands,

216 Sea-fowl stretching wing-joints,

217 splashing in rock-hollows and sand-hollows

218 In the wave-runs by the half-dune;

219 Glass-glint of wave in the tide-rips against sunlight,

220 pallor of Hesperus,

221 Grey peak of the wave,

222 wave, colour of grape's pulp,

223 Olive grey in the near,

224 far, smoke grey of the rock-slide,

225 Salmon-pink wings of the fish-hawk

226 cast grey shadows in water,

227 The tower like a one-eyed great goose

228 cranes up out of the olive-grove,

229 And we have heard the fauns chiding Proteus

230 in the smell of hay under the olive-trees,

231 And the frogs singing against the fauns

232 in the half-light.

233 And ...


[Page 11]

III


234 I sat on the Dogana's steps

235 For the gondolas cost too much, that year,

236 And there were not "those girls", there was one face,

237 And the Buccentoro twenty yards off, howling "Stretti",

238 And the lit cross-beams, that year, in the Morosini,

239 And peacocks in Koré's house, or there may have been.

240 Gods float in the azure air,

241 Bright gods and Tuscan, back before dew was shed.

242 Light: and the first light, before ever dew was fallen.

243 Panisks, and from the oak, dryas,

244 And from the apple, mælid,

245 Through all the wood, and the leaves are full of voices,

246 A-whisper, and the clouds bowe over the lake,

247 And there are gods upon them,

248 And in the water, the almond-white swimmers,

249 The silvery water glazes the upturned nipple,

250 As Poggio has remarked.

251 Green veins in the turquoise,

252 Or, the gray steps lead up under the cedars.

253 My Cid rode up to Burgos,

254 Up to the studded gate between two towers,

255 Beat with his lance butt, and the child came out,

256 Una niña de nueve años,

257 To the little gallery over the gate, between the towers,

258 Reading the writ, voce tinnula:

259 That no man speak to, feed, help Ruy Diaz,

260 On pain to have his heart out, set on a pike spike

261 And both his eyes torn out, and all his goods sequestered,

262 "And here, Myo Cid, are the seals,

263 The big seal and the writing."

264 And he came down from Bivar, Myo Cid,
[Page 12]
265 With no hawks left there on their perches,

266 And no clothes there in the presses,

267 And left his trunk with Raquel and Vidas,

268 That big box of sand, with the pawn-brokers,

269 To get pay for his menie;

270 Breaking his way to Valencia.

271 Ignez da Castro murdered, and a wall

272 Here stripped, here made to stand.

273 Drear waste, the pigment flakes from the stone,

274 Or plaster flakes, Mantegna painted the wall.

275 Silk tatters, "Nec Spe Nec Metu."
[Page 13]

IV

276 Palace in smoky light,



277 Troy but a heap of smouldering boundary stones,

278 ANAXIFORMINGES! Aurunculeia!

279 Hear me. Cadmus of Golden Prows!

280 The silver mirrors catch the bright stones and flare,

281 Dawn, to our waking, drifts in the green cool light;

282 Dew-haze blurs, in the grass, pale ankles moving.

283 Beat, beat, whirr, thud, in the soft turf

284 under the apple trees,

285 Choros nympharum, goat-foot, with the pale foot alternate;

286 Crescent of blue-shot waters, green-gold in the shallows,

287 A black cock crows in the sea-foam;

288 And by the curved, carved foot of the couch,

289 claw-foot and lion head, an old man seated

290 Speaking in the low drone ...:

291 Ityn!

292 Et ter flebiliter, Ityn, Ityn!

293 And she went toward the window and cast her down,

294 "All the while, the while, swallows crying:

295 Ityn!

296 "It is Cabestan's heart in the dish."

297 "It is Cabestan's heart in the dish?

298 "No other taste shall change this."

299 And she went toward the window,

300 the slim white stone bar

301 Making a double arch;

302 Firm even fingers held to the firm pale stone;

303 Swung for a moment,

304 and the wind out of Rhodez

305 Caught in the full of her sleeve.

306 . . . the swallows crying:


[Page 14]
307 'Tis. 'Tis. Ytis!

308 Actæon ...

309 and a valley,

310 The valley is thick with leaves, with leaves, the trees,

311 The sunlight glitters, glitters a-top,

312 Like a fish-scale roof,

313 Like the church roof in Poictiers

314 If it were gold.

315 Beneath it, beneath it

316 Not a ray, not a slivver, not a spare disc of sunlight

317 Flaking the black, soft water;

318 Bathing the body of nymphs, of nymphs, and Diana,

319 Nymphs, white-gathered about her, and the air, air,

320 Shaking, air alight with the goddess,

321 fanning their hair in the dark,

322 Lifting, lifting and waffing:

323 Ivory dipping in silver,

324 Shadow'd, o'ershadow'd

325 Ivory dipping in silver,

326 Not a splotch, not a lost shatter of sunlight.

327 Then Actæon: Vidal,

328 Vidal. It is old Vidal speaking,

329 stumbling along in the wood,

330 Not a patch, not a lost shimmer of sunlight,

331 the pale hair of the goddess.

332 The dogs leap on Actæon,

333 "Hither, hither, Actæon,"

334 Spotted stag of the wood;

335 Gold, gold, a sheaf of hair,

336 Thick like a wheat swath,

337 Blaze, blaze in the sun,

338 The dogs leap on Actæon.


[Page 15]
339 Stumbling, stumbling along in the wood,

340 Muttering, muttering Ovid:

341 "Pergusa ... pool ... pool ... Gargaphia,

342 "Pool ... pool of Salmacis."

343 The empty armour shakes as the cygnet moves.

344 Thus the light rains, thus pours, e lo soleills plovil

345 The liquid and rushing crystal

346 beneath the knees of the gods.

347 Ply over ply, thin glitter of water;

348 Brook film bearing white petals.

349 The pine at Takasago

350 grows with the pine of Isé!

351 The water whirls up the bright pale sand in the spring's mouth

352 "Behold the Tree of the Visages!"

353 Forked branch-tips, flaming as if with lotus.

354 Ply over ply

355 The shallow eddying fluid,

356 beneath the knees of the gods.

357 Torches melt in the glare

358 set flame of the corner cook-stall,

359 Blue agate casing the sky (as at Gourdon that time)

360 the sputter of resin,

361 Saffron sandal so petals the narrow foot: Hymenæus Io!

362 Hymen, Io Hymenæe! Aurunculeia!

363 One scarlet flower is cast on the blanch-white stone.

364 And So-Gyoku, saying:

365 "This wind, sire, is the king's wind,

366 This wind is wind of the palace,

367 Shaking imperial water-jets."

368 And Hsiang, opening his collar:

369 "This wind roars in the earth's bag,

370 it lays the water with rushes."


[Page 16]
371 No wind is the king's wind.

372 Let every cow keep her calf.

373 "This wind is held in gauze curtains ..."

374 No wind is the king's ...

375 The camel drivers sit in the turn of the stairs,

376 Look down on Ecbatan of plotted streets,

377 "Danaë! Danaë!

378 What wind is the king's?"

379 Smoke hangs on the stream,

380 The peach-trees shed bright leaves in the water,

381 Sound drifts in the evening haze,

382 The bark scrapes at the ford,

383 Gilt rafters above black water,

384 Three steps in an open field,

385 Gray stone-posts leading ...

386 Père Henri Jacques would speak with the Sennin, on Rokku,

387 Mount Rokku between the rock and the cedars,

388 Polhonac,

389 As Gyges on Thracian platter set the feast,

390 Cabestan, Tereus,

391 It is Cabestan's heart in the dish,

392 Vidal, or Ecbatan, upon the gilded tower in Ecbatan

393 Lay the god's bride, lay ever, waiting the golden rain.

394 By Garonne. "Saave!"

395 The Garonne is thick like paint,

396 Procession,---"Et sa'ave, sa'ave, sa'ave Regina!"---

397 Moves like a worm, in the crowd.

398 Adige, thin film of images,

399 Across the Adige, by Stefano, Madonna in hortulo,

400 As Cavalcanti had seen her.

401 The Centaur's heel plants in the earth loam.

402 And we sit here ...

403 there in the arena ...
[Page 17]

V

404 Great bulk, huge mass, thesaurus;



405 Ecbatan, the clock ticks and fades out

406 The bride awaiting the god's touch; Ecbatan,

407 City of patterned streets; again the vision:

408 Down in the viæ stradæ, toga'd the crowd, and arm'd,

409 Rushing on populous business,

410 and from parapet looked down

411 and North was Egypt,

412 the celestial Nile, blue deep,

413 cutting low barren land,

414 Old men and camels

415 working the water-wheels;

416 Measureless seas and stars,

417 Iamblichus' light,

418 the souls ascending,

419 Sparks like a partridge covey,

420 Like the "ciocco", brand struck in the game.

421 "Et omniformis": Air, fire, the pale soft light.

422 Topaz I manage, and three sorts of blue;

423 but on the barb of time.

424 The fire? always, and the vision always,

425 Ear dull, perhaps, with the vision, flitting

426 And fading at will. Weaving with points of gold,

427 Gold-yellow, saffron ... The roman shoe, Aurunculeia's

428 And come shuffling feet, and cries "Da nuces!

429 "Nuces!" praise, and Hymenæus "brings the girl to her man"

430 Or "here Sextus had seen her."

431 Titter of sound about me, always.

432 and from "Hesperus ..."

433 Hush of the older song: "Fades light from sea-crest,

434 "And in Lydia walks with pair'd women

435 "Peerless among the pairs, that once in Sardis
[Page 18]
436 "In satieties ...

437 Fades the light from the sea, and many things

438 "Are set abroad and brought to mind of thee,"

439 And the vinestocks lie untended, new leaves come to the shoots,

440 North wind nips on the bough, and seas in heart

441 Toss up chill crests,

442 And the vine stocks lie untended

443 And many things are set abroad and brought to mind

444 Of thee, Atthis, unfruitful.

445 The talks ran long in the night.

446 And from Mauleon, fresh with a new earned grade,

447 In maze of approaching rain-steps, Poicebot---

448 The air was full of women,

449 And Savairic Mauleon

450 Gave him his land and knight's fee, and he wed the woman.

451 Came lust of travel on him, of romerya;

452 And out of England a knight with slow-lifting eyelids

453 Lei fassa furar a del, put glamour upon her ...

454 And left her an eight months gone.

455 "Came lust of woman upon him,"

456 Poicebot, now on North road from Spain

457 (Sea-change, a grey in the water)

458 And in small house by town's edge

459 Found a woman, changed and familiar face;

460 Hard night, and parting at morning.

461 And Pieire won the singing, Pieire de Maensac,

462 Song or land on the throw, and was dreitz hom

463 And had De Tierci's wife and with the war they made:

464 Troy in Auvergnat

465 While Menelaus piled up the church at port

466 He kept Tyndarida. Dauphin stood with de Maensac.

467 John Borgia is bathed at last. (Clock-tick pierces the vision)

468 Tiber, dark with the cloak, wet cat gleaming in patches.
[Page 19]
469 Click of the hooves, through garbage,

470 Clutching the greasy stone. "And the cloak floated."

471 Slander is up betimes.

472 But Varchi of Florence,

473 Steeped in a different year, and pondering Brutus,

474 Then " !

475 "Dog-eye!!" (to Alessandro)

476 "Whether for love of Florence," Varchi leaves it,

477 Saying "I saw the man, came up with him at Venice,

478 "I, one wanting the facts,

479 "And no mean labour ... Or for a privy spite?"

480 Our Benedetto leaves it,

481 But: "I saw the man. Se pia?

482 "O empia? For Lorenzaccio had thought of stroke in the open

483 But uncertain (for the Duke went never unguarded)

484 "And would have thrown him from wall

485 "Yet feared this might not end him," or lest Alessandro

486 Know not by whom death came, O se credesse

487 "If when the foot slipped, when death came upon him,



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