Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Ezra Pound's Portrait d'Une Femme


Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea,
London has swept about you this score years
And bright ships left you this or that in fee:
Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things,
Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price.
Great minds have sought you- lacking someone else.
You have been second always. Tragical?
No. You preferred it to the usual thing:
One dull man, dulling and uxorious,
One average mind- with one thought less, each year.
Oh, you are patient, I have seen you sit
Hours, where something might have floated up.
And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay.
You are a person of some interest, one comes to you
And takes strange gain away:
Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;
Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,
Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
That might prove useful and yet never proves,
That never fits a corner or shows use,
Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:
The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;
Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,
These are your riches, your great store; and yet
For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,
Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:
In the slow float of differing light and deep,
No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,
Nothing that's quite your own.
Yet this is you.



This is Pound's more famous poem. But if you know Pound (as ee cummings said,
he is humane but not human) he can be a pain. I particularly like the rejection of
this poem by an editor, solely by the first line

Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea

The reason? The opening line has too many R's,
according to the rejection note.




2 Comments:

Blogger avi said...

A villanelle from Ezra for you:

The Psychological Hour

I
I had over prepared the event,
that much was ominous.
With middle-ageing care
I had laid out just the right books.
I had almost turned down the pages.

Beauty is so rare a thing.
So few drink of my fountain.

So much barren regret,
So many hours wasted!
And now I watch, from the window,
the rain, the wandering busses.

"Their little cosmos is shaken" --
the air is alive with that fact.
In their parts of the city
they are played on by diverse forces.
How do I know?
Oh, I know well enough.
For them there is something afoot.
As for me;
I had over-prepared the event --

Beauty is so rare a thing.
So few drink of my fountain.

Two friends: a breath of the forest. . .
Friends? Are people less friends
because one has just, at last, found them?
Twice they promised to come.

"Between the night and the morning?"

Beauty would drink of my mind.
Youth would awhile forget
my youth is gone from me.

II
(Speak up! You have danced so stiffly?
Someone admired your works,
And said so frankly.

"Did you talk like a fool,
The first night?
The second evening?"

"But they promised again:
'To-morrow at tea-time'.")

Now the third day is here --
no word from either;
No word from her nor him,
Only another man's note:
"Dear Pound, I am leaving England."

-- Confucius to Cummings, An Anthology of Poetry, edited by Pound and Spann

Oi hapi bertday ;>

2:26 PM  
Blogger frank cimatu said...

salamat avi

7:55 PM  

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