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



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488 "Lest cousin Duke Alessandro think he had fallen alone,

489 "No friend to aid him in falling."

490 Caina attende.

491 The lake of ice there below me.

492 And all of this, runs Varchi, dreamed out beforehand

493 In Perugia, caught in the star-maze by Del Carmine,

494 Cast on a natal paper, set with an exegesis, told,

495 All told to Alessandro, told thrice over,

496 Who held his death for a doom.

497 In abuleia. But Don Lorenzino

498 Whether for love of Florence ... but

499 "O se morisse, credesse caduto da sè"

500 ,


501 Schiavoni, caught on the wood-barge,

502 Gives out the afterbirth, Giovanni Borgia,

503 Trails out no more at nights, where Barabello
[Page 20]
504 Prods the Pope's elephant, and gets no crown, where Mozarello

505 Takes the Calabrian roadway, and for ending

506 Is smothered beneath a mule,

507 a poet's ending,

508 Down a stale well-hole, oh a poet's ending. "Sanazarro

509 "Alone out of all the court was faithful to him"

510 For the gossip of Naples' trouble drifts to North,

511 Fracastor (lightning was midwife) Cotta, and Ser D'Alviano,

512 Al poco giorno ed al gran cerchio d'ombra,

513 Talk the talks out with Navighero,

514 Burner of yearly Martials,

515 (The slavelet is mourned in vain)

516 And the next comer says "Were nine wounds,

517 "Four men, white horse. Held on the saddle before him ..."

518 Hooves clink and slick on the cobbles.

519 Schiavoni ... cloak ... "Sink the damn thing!"

520 Splash wakes that chap on the wood-barge.

521 Tiber catching the nap, the moonlit velvet,

522 A wet cat gleaming in patches.

523 "Se pia," Varchi,

524 "O empia, ma risoluto

525 "E terribile deliberazione."

526 Both sayings run in the wind,

527 Ma se morisse!


[Page 21]

VI

528 What you have done, Odysseus,



529 We know what you have done ...

530 And that Guillaume sold out his ground rents

531 (Seventh of Poitiers, Ninth of Aquitain).

532 "Tant las fotei com auzirets

533 "Cen e quatre vingt et veit vetz ..."

534 The stone is alive in my hand, the crops

535 will be thick in my death-year ...

536 Till Louis is wed with Eleanor

537 And had (He, Guillaume) a son that had to wife

538 The Duchess of Normandia whose daughter

539 Was wife to King Henry e maire del rei jove ...

540 Went over sea till day's end (he, Louis, with Eleanor)

541 Coming at last to Acre.

542 "Ongla, oncle" saith Arnaut

543 Her uncle commanded in Acre,

544 That had known her in girlhood

545 (Theseus, son of Aegeus)

546 And he, Louis, was not at ease in that town,

547 And was not at ease by Jordan

548 As she rode out to the palm-grove

549 Her scarf in Saladin's cimier.

550 Divorced her in that year, he Louis,

551 divorcing thus Aquitaine.

552 And that year Plantagenet married her

553 (that had dodged past 17 suitors)

554 Et quand lo reis Lois lo entendit

555 mout er fasché.

556 Nauphal, Vexis, Harry joven

557 In pledge for all his life and life of all his heirs

558 Shall have Gisors, and Vexis, Neufchastel

559 But if no issue Gisors shall revert ...
[Page 22]
560 "Need not wed Alix ... in the name

561 Trinity holy indivisible ... Richard our brother

562 Need not wed Alix once his father's ward and ...

563 But whomso he choose ... for Alix, etc ...

564 Eleanor, domna jauzionda, mother of Richard,

565 Turning on thirty years (wd. have been years before this)

566 By river-marsh, by galleried church-porch,

567 Malemorte, Correze, to whom:

568 "My Lady of Ventadour

569 "Is shut by Eblis in

570 "And will not hawk nor hunt

571 nor get her free in the air

572 "Nor watch fish rise to bait

573 "Nor the glare-wing'd flies alight in the creek's edge

574 "Save in my absence, Madame.

575 'Que la lauzeta mover'

576 "Send word I ask you to Eblis

577 you have seen that maker

578 "And finder of songs so far afield as this

579 "That he may free her,

580 who sheds such light in the air."

581 E lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana,

582 Son of a poor knight, Sier Escort,

583 And he delighted himself in chançons

584 And mixed with the men of the court

585 And went to the court of Richard Saint Boniface

586 And was there taken with love for his wife

587 Cunizza, da Romano,

588 That freed her slaves on a Wednesday

589 Masnatas et servos, witness

590 Picus de Farinatis

591 and Don Elinus and Don Lipus

592 sons of Farinato de' Farinati
[Page 23]
593 "free of person, free of will

594 "free to buy, witness, sell, testate."

595 A marito subtraxit ipsam ...

596 dictum Sordellum concubuisse:

597 "Winter and Summer I sing of her grace,

598 As the rose is fair, so fair is her face,

599 Both Summer and Winter I sing of her,

600 The snow makyth me to remember her."

601 And Cairels was of Sarlat ...

602 Theseus from Troezene

603 And they wd. have given him poison

604 But for the shape of his sword-hilt.


[Page 24]

VII


605 Eleanor (she spoiled in a British climate)

606 and , and

607 poor old Homer blind,

608 blind as a bat,

609 Ear, ear for the sea-surge;

610 rattle of old men's voices.

611 And then the phantom Rome,

612 marble narrow for seats

613 "Si pulvis nullus" said Ovid,

614 "Erit, nullum tamen excute."

615 Then file and candles, e li mestiers ecoutes;

616 Scene for the battle only, but still scene,

617 Pennons and standards y cavals armatz

618 Not mere succession of strokes, sightless narration,

619 And Dante's "ciocco," brand struck in the game.

620 Un peu moisi, plancher plus bas que le jardin.

621 "Contre le lambris, fauteuil de paille,

622 "Un vieux piano, et sous le baromètre ..."

623 The old men's voices, beneath the columns of false marble,

624 The modish and darkish walls,

625 Discreeter gilding, and the panelled wood

626 Suggested, for the leasehold is

627 Touched with an imprecision ... about three squares;

628 The house too thick, the paintings

629 a shade too oiled.

630 And the great domed head, con gli occhi onesti e tardi

631 Moves before me, phantom with weighted motion,

632 Grave incessu, drinking the tone of things,

633 And the old voice lifts itself

634 weaving an endless sentence.


[Page 25]
635 We also made ghostly visits, and the stair

636 That knew us, found us again on the turn of it,

637 Knocking at empty rooms, seeking for buried beauty;

638 And the sun-tanned, gracious and well-formed fingers

639 Lift no latch of bent bronze, no Empire handle

640 Twists for the knocker's fall; no voice to answer.

641 A strange concierge, in place of the gouty-footed.

642 Sceptic against all this one seeks the living,

643 Stubborn against the fact. The wilted flowers

644 Brushed out a seven year since, of no effect.

645 Damn the partition! Paper, dark brown and stretched,

646 Flimsy and damned partition.

647 Ione, dead the long year

648 My lintel, and Liu Ch'e's lintel.

649 Time blacked out with the rubber.

650 The Elysée carries a name on

651 And the bus behind me gives me a date for peg;

652 Low ceiling and the Erard and the silver,

653 These are in "time." Four chairs, the bow-front dresser,

654 The panier of the desk, cloth top sunk in.

655 "Beer-bottle on the statue's pediment!

656 "That, Fritz, is the era, to-day against the past,

657 "Contemporary." And the passion endures.

658 Against their action, aromas. Rooms, against chronicles.

659 Smaragdos, chrysolithos; De Gama wore striped pants in Africa

660 And "Mountains of the sea gave birth to troops";

661 Le vieux commode en acajou:

662 beer-bottles of various strata,

663 But is she dead as Tyro? In seven years?

664 , ,


665 The sea runs in the beach-groove, shaking the floated pebbles,

666 Eleanor!

667 The scarlet curtain throws a less scarlet shadow;
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668 Lamplight at Buovilla, e quel remir,

669 And all that day

670 Nicea moved before me

671 And the cold grey air troubled her not

672 For all her naked beauty, bit not the tropic skin,

673 And the long slender feet lit on the curb's marge

674 And her moving height went before me,

675 We alone having being.

676 And all that day, another day:

677 Thin husks I had known as men,

678 Dry casques of departed locusts

679 speaking a shell of speech ...

680 Propped between chairs and table ...

681 Words like the locust-shells, moved by no inner being;

682 A dryness calling for death;

683 Another day, between walls of a sham Mycenian,

684 "Toc" sphinxes, sham-Memphis columns,

685 And beneath the jazz a cortex, a stiffness or stillness,

686 Shell of the older house.

687 Brown-yellow wood, and the no colour plaster,

688 Dry professorial talk ...

689 now stilling the ill beat music,

690 House expulsed by this house.

691 Square even shoulders and the satin skin,

692 Gone cheeks of the dancing woman,

693 Still the old dead dry talk, gassed out---

694 It is ten years gone, makes stiff about her a glass,

695 A petrefaction of air.

696 The old room of the tawdry class asserts itself;

697 The young men, never!

698 Only the husk of talk.

699 O voi che siete in piccioletta barca,

700 Dido choked up with sobs, for her Sicheus
[Page 27]
701 Lies heavy in my arms, dead weight

702 Drowning, with tears, new Eros,

703 And the life goes on, mooning upon bare hills;

704 Flame leaps from the hand, the rain is listless,

705 Yet drinks the thirst from our lips,

706 solid as echo,

707 Passion to breed a form in shimmer of rain-blur;

708 But Eros drowned, drowned, heavy-half dead with tears

709 For dead Sicheus.

710 Life to make mock of motion:

711 For the husks, before me, move,

712 The words rattle: shells given out by shells.

713 The live man, out of lands and prisons,

714 shakes the dry pods,

715 Probes for old wills and friendships, and the big locust-casques

716 Bend to the tawdry table,

717 Lift up their spoons to mouths, put forks in cutlets,

718 And make sound like the sound of voices.

719 Lorenzaccio

720 Being more live than they, more full of flames and voices.

721 Ma se morisse!

722 Credesse caduto da sè, ma se morisse.

723 And the tall indifference moves,

724 a more living shell,

725 Drift in the air of fate, dry phantom, but intact.

726 O Alessandro, chief and thrice warned, watcher,

727 Eternal watcher of things,

728 Of things, of men, of passions.

729 Eyes floating in dry, dark air,

730 E biondo, with glass-grey iris, with an even side-fall of hair

731 The stiff, still features.
[Page 28]

VIII


732 These fragments you have shelved (shored).

733 "Slut!" "Bitch!" Truth and Calliope

734 Slanging each other sous les lauriers:

735 That Alessandro was negroid. And Malatesta

736 Sigismund:

737 Frater tamquam

738 Et compater carissime: tergo

739 ... hanni de

740 ..dicis

741 ... entia

742 Equivalent to:

743 Giohanni of the Medici,

744 Florence.

745 Letter received, and in the matter of our Messire Gianozio,

746 One from him also, sent on in form and with all due dispatch,

747 Having added your wishes and memoranda.

748 As to arranging peace between you and the King of Ragona,

749 So far as I am concerned, it wd.

750 Give me the greatest possible pleasure,

751 At any rate nothing wd. give me more pleasure

752 or be more acceptable to me,

753 And I shd. like to be party to it, as was promised me,

754 either as participant or adherent.

755 As for my service money,

756 Perhaps you and your father wd. draw it

757 And send it on to me as quickly as possible.

758 And tell the Maestro di pentore

759 That there can be no question of

760 His painting the walls for the moment,

761 As the mortar is not yet dry

762 And it wd. be merely work chucked away

763 (buttato via)


[Page 29]
764 But I want it to be quite clear, that until the chapels are ready

765 I will arrange for him to paint something else

766 So that both he and I shall

767 Get as much enjoyment as possible from it,

768 And in order that he may enter my service

769 And also because you write me that he needs cash,

770 I want to arrange with him to give him so much per year

771 And to assure him that he will get the sum agreed on.

772 You may say that I will deposit security

773 For him wherever he likes.

774 And let me have a clear answer,

775 For I mean to give him good treatment

776 So that he may come to live the rest

777 Of his life in my lands---

778 Unless you put him off it---

779 And for this I mean to make due provision,

780 So that he can work as he likes,

781 Or waste his time as he likes

782 (affatigandose per suo piacere o no

783 non gli manchera la provixione mai)

784 never lacking provision.

785 SIGISMUNDUS PANDOLPHUS DE MALATESTIS

786 In campo Illus. Domini Venetorum die 7

787 aprilis 1449 contra Cremonam

788 .....and because the aforesaid most illustrious

789 Duke of Milan

790 Is content and wills that the aforesaid Lord Sigismundo

791 Go into the service of the most magnificent commune

792 of the Florentines

793 For alliance defensive of the two states,

794 Therefore between the aforesaid Illustrious Sigismund

795 And the respectable man Agnolo della Stufa,

796 ambassador, sindic and procurator

797 Appointed by the ten of the baily, etc., the half


[Page 30]
798 Of these 50,000 florins, free of attainder,

799 For 1400 cavalry and four hundred foot

800 To come into the terrene of the commune

801 or elsewhere in Tuscany

802 As please the ten of the Baily,

803 And to be himself there with them in the service

804 of the commune

805 With his horsemen and his footmen

806 (gente di cavallo e da pie) etc.

807 Aug. 5 1452, register of the Ten of the Baily.

808 From the forked rocks of Penna and Billi, on Carpegna

809 with the road leading under the cliff,

810 in the wind-shelter into Tuscany,

811 And the north road, toward the Marecchia

812 the mud-stretch full of cobbles.

813 Lyra:

814 "Ye spirits who of olde were in this land

815 Each under Love, and shaken,

816 Go with your lutes, awaken

817 The summer within her mind,

818 Who hath not Helen for peer

819 Yseut nor Batsabe."

820 With the interruption:

821 Magnifico, compater et carissime

822 (Johanni di Cosimo)

823 Venice has taken me on again

824 At 7,000 a month, fiorini di Camera.

825 For 2,000 horse and four hundred footmen,

826 And it rains here by the gallon,

827 We have had to dig a new ditch.

828 In three or four days

829 I shall try to set up the bombards.

830 Under the plumes, with the flakes and small wads of colour

831 Showering from the balconies


[Page 31]
832 With the sheets spread from windows,

833 with leaves and small branches pinned on them,

834 Arras hung from the railings; out of the dust,

835 With pheasant tails upright on their forelocks,

836 The small white horses, the

837 Twelve girls riding in order, green satin in pannier'd habits;

838 Under the baldachino, silver'd with heavy stitches,

839 Bianca Visconti, with Sforza,

840 The peasant's son and the duchess,

841 To Rimini, and to the wars southward,

842 Boats drawn on the sand, red-orange sails in the creek's mouth,

843 For two days' pleasure, mostly "la pesca," fishing,

844 Di cui in the which he, Francesco, godeva molto.

845 To the war southward

846 In which he, at that time, received an excellent hiding.

847 And the Greek emperor was in Florence

848 (Ferrara having the pest)

849 And with him Gemisthus Plethon

850 Talking of the war about the temple at Delphos,

851 And of Poseidon, concret Allgemeine,

852 And telling of how Plato went to Dionysius of Syracuse

853 Because he had observed that tyrants

854 Were most efficient in all that they set their hands to,

855 But he was unable to persuade Dionysius

856 To any amelioration.

857 And in the gate at Ancona, between the foregate

858 And the main-gates

859 Sigismundo, ally, come through an enemy force,

860 To patch up some sort of treaty, passes one gate

861 And they shut it before they open the next gate, and he says:

862 "Now you have me,

863 Caught like a hen in a coop."

864 And the captain of the watch says: "Yes Messire Sigismundo,

865 But we want this town for ourselves."


[Page 32]
866 With the church against him,

867 With the Medici bank for itself,

868 With wattle Sforza against him

869 Sforza Francesco, wattle-nose,

870 Who married him (Sigismundo) his (Francesco's)

871 Daughter in September,

872 Who stole Pèsaro in October (as Broglio says "bestialmente"),

873 Who stood with the Venetians in November,

874 With the Milanese in December,

875 Sold Milan in November, stole Milan in December

876 Or something of that sort,

877 Commanded the Milanese in the spring,

878 the Venetians at midsummer,

879 The Milanese in the autumn,

880 And was Naples' ally in October,

881 He, Sigismundo, templum ædificavit

882 In Romagna, teeming with cattle thieves,

883 with the game lost in mid-channel,

884 And never quite lost till' 50,

885 and never quite lost till the end, in Romagna,

886 So that Galeaz sold Pèsaro "to get pay for his cattle."

887 And Poictiers, you know, Guillaume Poictiers,

888 had brought the song up out of Spain

889 With the singers and viels. But here they wanted a setting,

890 By Marecchia, where the water comes down over the cobbles

891 And Mastin had come to Verucchio,

892 and the sword, Paolo il Bello's,

893 caught in the arras

894 And, in Este's home, Parisina

895 Paid

896 For this tribe paid always, and the house

897 Called also Atreides',

898 And the wind is still for a little
[Page 33]
899 And the dusk rolled

900 to one side a little

901 And he was twelve at the time, Sigismundo,

902 And no dues had been paid for three years,

903 And his elder brother gone pious;

904 And that year they fought in the streets,

905 And that year he got out to Cesena

906 And brought back the levies,

907 And that year he crossed by night over Foglia, and ...
[Page 34]

IX

908 One year floods rose,



909 One year they fought in the snows,

910 One year hail fell, breaking the trees and walls.

911 Down here in the marsh they trapped him

912 in one year,

913 And he stood in the water up to his neck

914 to keep the hounds off him,

915 And he floundered about in the marsh

916 and came in after three days,

917 That was Astorre Manfredi of Faenza

918 who worked the ambush

919 and set the dogs off to find him,

920 In the marsh, down here under Mantua,

921 And he fought in Fano, in a street fight,

922 and that was nearly the end of him;

923 And the Emperor came down and knighted us,

924 And they had a wooden castle set up for fiesta,

925 And one year Basinio went out into the courtyard

926 Where the lists were, and the palisades

927 had been set for the tourneys,

928 And he talked down the anti-Hellene,

929 And there was an heir male to the seignor,

930 And Madame Ginevra died.

931 And he, Sigismundo, was Capitan for the Venetians.

932 And he had sold off small castles

933 and built the great Rocca to his plan,

934 And he fought like ten devils at Monteluro

935 and got nothing but the victory

936 And old Sforza bitched us at Pesaro;

937 (sic) March the 16th:

938 "that Messire Alessandro Sforza

939 is become lord of Pesaro
[Page 35]
940 through the wangle of the Illus. Sgr. Mr. Fedricho d'Orbino

941 Who worked the wangle with Galeaz

942 through the wiggling of Messer Francesco,

943 Who waggled it so that Galeaz should sell Pesaro

944 to Alex and Fossembrone to Feddy;

945 and he hadn't the right to sell.

946 And this he did bestialmente; that is Sforza did bestialmente

947 as he had promised him, Sigismundo, per capitoli

948 to see that he, Malatesta, should have Pesaro"

949 And this cut us off from our south half

950 and finished our game, thus, in the beginning,

951 And he, Sigismundo, spoke his mind to Francesco

952 and we drove them out of the Marches.

953 And the King o' Ragona, Alphonse le roy d'Aragon,

954 was the next nail in our coffin,

955 And all you can say is, anyway,

956 that he Sigismundo called a town council

957 And Valturio said "as well for a sheep as a lamb"

958 and this change-over (hæc traditio)

959 As old bladder said "rem eorum saluavit"

960 Saved the Florentine state; and that, maybe, was something.

961 And "Florence our natural ally" as they said in the meeting

962 for whatever that was worth afterward.

963 And he began building the Tempio,

964 and Polixena, his second wife, died.

965 And the Venetians sent down an ambassador

966 And said "speak humanely,

967 But tell him it's no time for raising his pay."

968 And the Venetians sent down an ambassador

969 with three pages of secret instructions

970 To the effect: Did he think the campaign was a joy-ride?



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