Saturday, March 31, 2007

Poetry Live & Ezra Pound




On Tuesday, 3rd April -- just a few days away, in fact -- I'll be doing a reading at Poetry Live at the Classic Studio, 321 Queen St (next door and upstairs from the Classic Comedy Club). This was arranged at very short notice -- I was originally supposed to be doing my reading in May -- so I thought I'd try to publicise it here.

It starts at 8pm. Entry is by koha. I'll be reading some new work and making some strange connections, so come along if you're curious about either or both.




[Gaudier-Brzeska, 'Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound']


The other thing I'm publicising in this post is the appearance of my article "Pound's Fascist Cantos Revisited" in issue three of the online journal Ka Mate Ka Ora, edited by Murray Edmond, and located on the nzepc website.

This article includes my translation of the second of these Italian cantos, Canto 73, which still remains untranslated in the latest (1996) edition of the Cantos.

An English translation of Canto 72 -- by Pound himself -- has, however, now been discovered, and accompanies the Italian text in the 1996 New Directions Press edition.

My own translation of both cantos was done in 1991. It's a little bit naughty of me, but I was given permission by the late James Laughlin and his British and Commonwealth representative, Pound's editor at Faber and Faber, John Bodley, to issue my translation down here so long as "no claim was made on world rights." Canto 73 you can read easily enough in the Ka Mate Ka Ora essay, but here (for what it's worth) is my translation of Canto 72, which it might be instructive to compare with Pound's own. If anyone feels I've breached copyright by posting it here I'll certainly take it down. But I did correspond with James Laughlin on the subject in 1991, and he raised no objections then):


CANTO LXXII
Presences



As soon as we start to remember this shitty war
Certain facts will resurface. In the beginning, God
The great aesthete, having created the heaven and the earth,
Volcanic red sunsets, having decked out the rock
With lichens – like a Japanese print –
Shat out the great usurer Satana-Gerione, the prototype
Of Churchill’s bosses. And now it is my turn to sing
In a half-savage cant (not the true (t)’oscano), because
Filippo Tomaso came to me, post-death, saying:
Bene, I’m dead,
But I don’t want to go in Paradiso, I want to keep fighting.
I want your body, so I can keep fighting.”

And I replied: “Tomaso, my body’s too old,
And anyway, where would I go? I still need it.
I’ll give you a spot in my Canto, I’ll give you the mike;
But if you just want to fight, scram – get hold of some kid;
Gedda holda some keed – some dumb scaredy-cat
And lend him some balls (not to mention some brains)
... As if Italia needed one more bloody hero!
That way you’re reborn – a ravening beast –
You have a Renaissance, then die one more time.
Don’t die in bed, viejo,
But to the sound of trumpets
That way Paradiso!
Purgatorio you’ve suffered
After the Surrender, the twenty-first of September,
Ze dyes of Betrayal!
Scram – go make yourself a hero,
Leave the talking to me.
Leave the explaining to me,
Leave me to sing of the battle eternal
Between the filth and the light.
Addio, Marinetti!
Drop in when you’re free.”
“Atten-SHUN”
And, after the barked command, he added sadly:
“I wasted my time in futile folly,
Loved show more than substance,
Ignored the ancients - nor did I study
Confucius or Mencius.
I praised war, you wanted peace
Blindmen both!
though I was hollow, you hated the now.”
Only in part
Was he speaking to me – nor from nearby –
A part of him seemed to be quizzing himself
Without touching centre; and so his shadow
Shaded off into grey
Until from another turn of the dial
A voice issued from the hollow receiver:
Vomon le nari spiriti di fiamma.”
Quoth I:
“Torquato Dazzi, is’t that chloroform in verse
you’ve come here to peddle –
‘Nostrils spewing flame’ – translated 20 yrs back to wake up Mussato?
Marinetti and you – a great double-act
Both over the top, he for the future
And you for the past.
Too often over-affection
Creates over-kill – all that damn’d blasting;
By now there’s enough ruins even for him!”

Again that hasty and impatient spirit
Like a messenger who’s chafing at delay
And will not stay for business of less merit
Burst in – I recognised the voice of Marinetti
Heard long ago in Piazza Adriana, down by Tiber-side.
“Come back!
At Macallè, the Gobi’s farthest bound
A skull lies bleaching in the desert sand
& SINGS
Tireless, strident, sings, & sings, & sings:
– Alamein! Alamein!
We shall return!
We shall return! –”
Me: “I believe you”
... Enough, I hope, to give his soul some peace.

The other spirit resumed his own refrain
With:
“poco minor d’un toro” ...
(a line translated from the Eccerinus;
Latin: “little less than ... bull”).
He did not cap
The quote.
For all the air was trembling, and the shade
Wavered
And, as with sounds drowned out by driving rain,
Flung phrases without sense. Just like a ship
Whose sunken hull caves in when touched by light,
I heard a rattling sigh
Of discharged breath (or on a sick-
Bed, when a man’s about to die):
“Guelph slanderers! Their weapon was it ever –
Calumny ... still is; world without end.
The age-old war’s still raging in Romagna,
Filth risen to Bologna
With looting and rapine – See horses stand
In darkies fetlock-deep as in a river,
Moroccans and such scum
Enough to rouse the bones beneath the fields
To breathe, clench fists, salute, come
Back to life, armed shaft & shield
Against the foe.
I’ve seen such dirt-bags often in my time –
Look through the books, you’ll find them there in droves
Betrayers of a province or a city
But this microbe
The Empire sold, as well as Italy!
Forlì in flames & Rimini forsaken;
Who shall again frequent Gemisto’s shrine
(A wise man surely, even if a Grecian)?
The walls on fire, the arches all are fallen
In Ixotta’s pied-à-terre – goddess & queen ...”

“Who’s there?” I cried
Clamouring to be heard above the storm,
“Is it Sigismundo?”
He did not listen, but
Raved on:
“Sooner the Seat of Peter will be clean
Of a Borgia papa than of a Pacelli.
Sixtus, too, was a son of usury
– The whole conspiracy
Of those who’ve grown so fat on scribbled deeds
Aimed to deny him worthy followers;
So now they’re bellowing that Farinacci
Has dirty hands, because he caught on quick.

One hand is dirty, but the other one
Has earned him pride of place among our many
Unsung heroes: Tellera, Maletti,
Miele, de Carolis & Lorenzini,
Guido Piacenza, Orsi & Predieri,
Volpini, Baldassare, Borsarelli,
To give you just the names of the commanders.
Clement was a banker’s brat - a son
Of usury il Decimo Leone ...”
“Who’s there?” I cried.
“I am that Ez-zelino who would not credit
The universe was created by a Jew.
No doubt I was guilty of other errors, too –
let’s just forget that
Now. Your friend & I were scammed
By the same man: ol’ Muss,
Who told me I was damned
As ‘Satan’s son’ (try swallowing that
& you’ll not need carrots to turn into an ass).
Adonis was disembowelled by a boar
Simply to make the Cyprian goddess cry.
It’s tempting to make a joke of it & say
A prize bull from the zoo or abattoir’s
Worth more, because he weighs more than a pig
(Students of Aesop’s Fables will complain
That animals can’t do arithmetic).
More harm’s been done by one false load of bull
Than all my tricks: a fig, a bagatelle!
Dig that fat ferret out of his warm lair
& see if he don’t say:
‘The bête humaine rejoices in its chains’?
If ever an Emperor sent forth that decree
Byzantium had defiled the parent stream;
His Virtue had ebbed into a parody
Of law, divided from the golden mean.
Caesar sapped not his own integrity,
Augustus, before Peter, built in stone
(The rock sustained the same authority).
‘The lawgiver is law’s custodian’
– Fought for in Florence by the ghibelline.”

Like waves that come from more than one transmitter,
The rippling voices
Fused (in broken phrases), and I heard
A skein of birds who sang in counterpoint
As in a garden
on a summer’s day,
‘Mongst whom, most softly:
“Placidia fui, sotto l’oro dormivo.”
I, Placidia, sleeping under gold” – rang from a well-tuned string.
“Malinconia di donna e la dolcezza” ...
I began
Sorrows and sweets of ladies;” but I felt
Goose-pimples rising,
pulse was racing
Like an engine,
arm and shoulder seized
As if by force: that is, I saw a hand
Had gripped me,
yet I could not see the arm
Pinning me like a thumb-tack to the wall
(You won’t believe me – who cares? You weren’t there).
And then the one who raged at me before
Cut in – I say ‘cut in’; not rudely, rather
Almost like a father
Explaining to his son the fight they’re in:

“It’s an old man’s prize, & you’re the greenest hand.
Listen to me, before I have to go
Back to the night.

Where the skull sings our soldiers
Will return, those banners will come in.”






For further details, please refer to the annotated version included in my chapbook Ezra Pound’s Fascist Cantos (72 & 73) together with Rimbaud’s “Poets at Seven Years Old.” Trans. Jack Ross (Auckland: Perdrix Press, 1997) pp. 24-30.

Much of that information is now available, in updated form, in the Ka Mate Ka Ora article referred to above, however.




[Postscript - 7-8/09]:


[I've been having some correspondence lately on the interpretation of some of the personnel in this canto, so I've decided to append all the notes I compiled at the time (you can find the text of my translation of Canto 73 online here)].


Annotations and Commentary

[1991]


The purpose of these notes is threefold: first, to give a sense of the context of these two poems in the larger body of the Cantos[1]; second, to explain unfamiliar allusions (even those which are common knowledge to students of Pound, Dante, or Cavalcanti); and third, to justify my own translations of particular phrases and expressions. The last of these is, of course, the most self-serving - but if I were to pass over such matters in silence, I would lose whatever pretensions to strict, objective usefulness this version of Pound's Italian verses can claim. I have tried to cross-reference the annotations as far as possible, but cannot conceal the fact that they are really designed to be read progressively, as a kind of cumulative commentary.


CANTO LXXII


l.ii -'Presences' = Presenza (presence, appearance, aspect)[2]

Canto 76, l.217: 'spiriti questi? personae?' (p.459)[3]

I accept Massimo Bacigalupo's contention that this title is 'a reference to the cry "PRESENTE!" (Here!) thrown out by one of its heroes ... The title also appears to suggest that these cantos amount to Pound's act of allegiance - or "presenza" - to the Salò régime' (Bacigalupo, 1984, 72). In order to reproduce this effect in English, however, I have been forced to reject such literal expressions as 'Being there' (to match 'HERE, SIR' at l.35?), but have instead taken it to refer to the 'presences' ('spiriti ... personae') who appear to Pound in his Dantean dream-vision.

l.1 - 'this shitty war' = la guerra di merda.

When conflated with the 'guerra eterna/ Fra luce e fango' at ll.31-32, and the 'guerra antica in Romagna' at l.94, and perhaps the entire struggle against 'usurers' and the 'padroni di Churchill' (see notes on ll.6 & 7 below), this undoubtedly represents Pound's view of the Second World War.

l.2 - 'In the beginning' = Nel principio.

Genesis 1, i: 'In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth'
Canto 55, ll.288-91: 'Reason from heaven ...
Is the beginning of all things, et effectu' (p.298)
Canto 74, l.76: 'in principio verbum' (p.427).

ll.2-3 - 'God/ The great aesthete' = Dio/ Il grande esteta.

Canto 28, ll.1-2: 'AND God the Father Eternal (Boja d'un Dio!)
Having made all things he cd.' (p.133)
Canto 93, l.114: '... Dio, la prima bontade' (p.626).

Terrell (1980, p.112), defines 'Boja d'un Dio!' as (literally) 'Hangman of a God'; the equivalent of 'Darn it!' in Romagna dialect.

l.4 - 'Volcanic red sunsets' = Dopo il tramonto vulcanico.

Carpenter (1988, p.638), in his partial translation based on 'a literal prose version by Mary de Rachewiltz', gives this line as 'after [making] the fiery sunset'. I have, however, preferred to preserve the volcanic (and Vulcanic!) associations of the word 'vulcanico' (fiery).

l.5 - 'like a Japanese print' = a modo nipponico.

Bacigalupo (1984, 73), translates this as 'in Nipponese fashion', which he glosses as 'a topical reference' (i.e. to Japan's role in the war). Carpenter, however, provides 'like a Japanese print' (1988, p.638).

l.6 - 'the great usurer' = il gran' usuraio.

Canto 14, l.74: 'usurers squeezing crab-lice, pandars to authority' (p.63)
Canto 45, ll.41-44: 'Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern' (p.230)
Canto 74, l.575: 'in the usurers' hell-a-dice' (p.441).

Pound includes the following note at the end of Canto 45, devoted entirely to 'Usura' (p.230): 'N.B. Usury: A charge for the use of purchasing power, levied without regard to production; often without regard to the possibilities of production. (Hence the failure of the Medici bank)'. See note on l.120 below.

l.6 - 'Satana-Gerione'.

Canto 51, ll.62-65: 'sang Geryone; I am the help of the aged; ...
I am Geryon twin with usura' (p.251)
Canto 97, l.210: '"This coil of Geryon" (Djerion) said Mr Carlyle' (p.675).

I have left this name in its italianized form in order to signal its Dantean associations. Toynbee's Dante Dictionary (1968, p.310) describes Geriòn as the 'guardian of Circle VIII of Hell (Malebolge) where the Fraudulent are punished, representing him as a kind of dragon' (1968, p.310) (see Inf. XVII, 1-27 ); and on p. 562 gives Satàn as a (rare in context) synonym for the 'Evil One' - also Lucífero, Dite, Belzebù, rex inferni, etc. - citing specifically Inf. VII, 1.[4]

l.7 - 'Churchill's bosses' = padroni di Churchill.

Canto 74, l.546: '... Churchill's backers' (p.440)
Canto 78, l.164: '... Churchill's return to Midas broadcast by his liary' (p.481)
Canto 87, ll.32-33: 'The total dirt that was Roosevelt,
and the farce that was Churchill' (p.570).

Winston Spencer Churchill (1874-1965) was one of Pound's pet hates, as a representative servant of international usury (see notes on l.6 above, and Canto 73, l.11 below).

l.8 - 'not the true (t)'oscano' = non a (h)antar 'oscano.

I have attempted to reproduce Pound's own echoing, 'in gergo rozzo' (in 'clumsy jargon'), of the sound of spoken Italian dialect: '(h)antar 'oscano' I interpret as 'cantare toscano' (sing in Tuscan). See also, in this connection, l.17: 'Pigiate hualche ziovanozz'', Marinetti's northern (Piedmontese?) dialect version of 'Piglia qualche giovanotto' (l.16); l.22: 'viejo', dialect (and Spanish!) for 'vecchio'; and l.27: 'ziorni', for 'giorni' (l.26).

l.9 - 'Filippo Tomaso'.

Canto 92, l.104: '... old Marinetti' (p.621).

Filippo Tommaso Marinetti (1875-1944), Futurist poet and publicist, converted later in his life to Fascism. Loyal to the German-backed Republic of Salò, 'he participated in the Ethiopian war and was on the Russian front for a period in 1942-43' (Bondanella, 1979, p.318). See also references to 'Tom[m]aso' at l.13, and 'Marinetti' at ll.33, 56 & 65. The Ethiopian references at l.68 are also his (see note). His death in 1944 seems to have been one of the things that prompted the writing of Cantos 72-73.

l.9 - 'post-death' = Dopo la sua morte.

An attempt to echo the effect of Poundian coinages such as 'her hands have no kindness me-ward' ['Homage to Sextus Propertius', III, l.14 ] (Pound, 1984a, p.83).

l.10 - 'Bene' = Be'.

I have expanded the abbreviation in order to keep up the fiction of an Italian speaking in accented English. Hence, too,'in Paradiso' (l.11), 'Italia' (l.19), and 'Paradiso!/ Purgatorio' (ll.24-25). See also Canto 73, l.63.

l.15 - 'I'll give you a spot in my Canto' = ti darò posto nel Canto.

'Canto', here, could mean Canto or song. I have tried to parallel this ambiguity in the Italian by introducing here prematurely the idea of radio communication ('I'll give you the mike'), intimated by Pound at ll.50 & 166.

l.19 - 'one more bloody hero' = Par dare all'Italia ancor' un eroe fra tanti.

I have perhaps exaggerated (given Pound's enthusiasm for 'eroi' at ll.127-32), the degree of disillusionment implied by 'ancor' un eroe fra tanti'. Certainly Bacigalupo (1984, p.79) dismisses Barbara Eastman's similar reading: 'in [Canto] 72 I find no "nice contempt for 'heroics' as a sort of 'folie de jeunesse'" ... - a misunderstanding, apparently, of lines 16-19'. I would, however, plead in my (and Eastman's) defence the narrator's abrupt dismissal of Marinetti at l.28: 'Vai! Vai a farti di nuovo eroe'. I have emended the - in context - meaningless 'Par' at the beginning of the line to 'Per' (the only other emendation to the text of these cantos proposed by me is 'veder' for 'veder’' at Canto 73, l.103).

l.26 - 'the twenty-first of September' = nei giorni del Settembre Ventunesimo.

After King Vittorio Emmanuale deposed Mussolini, the new Badoglio government signed an armistice ('il tradimento') with the Allies on 21st September 1943, 'i ziorni del crollo' (l.27) (Carpenter, 638).

l.40 - 'Confucius or Mencius' = Parola di Confucio né di Mencio.

Canto 80, l.189: 'you can neither eat manuscript nor Confucius' (p.498)
Canto 94, ll.61-62: 'to Mencius, Dante, and Agassiz
for Gestalt seed' (p.635).

Two more of Pound's heroes.

l.51 - 'Vomon le nari spiriti di fiamma'.

Bacigalupo, 1984, p.75: 'the hero-narrator is quick to recognize his friend ... Dazzi's translation of the Ecerinis, the fourteenth-century Senecan tragedy of Albertino Mussato (1262-1329)'. In context it serves as a neat epigrammatic comment on the 'fire' of Marinetti's 'sovra-voler'; as does 'poco minor d'un toro' (l.79) on the Ethiopian passage (ll.67-74). See note on l.53 below.

l.53 - 'Torquato Dazzi'.

Canto 74, ll.728-29: '... (nella Malatestiana)
Torquato where art thou?' (p.446)
Canto 91, ll.137-38: 'Nanni (Torquato) did 3 years with Battista
and wasn't shot till after Salò' (p.614).

Manlio Torquato Dazzi (1891-1968), was 'first librarian in Cesena, where Pound met him while researching Malatesta; he was then director (1926-57) of the Fondazione Querini Stampalia, Venice' (Bacigalupo, 1984, p.75). His translation of Mussato's Ecerinis was 'in fact published ... in 1914', thirty years before Canto 72 was composed. The quotation from Canto 91 above refers to Torquato Nanni, who did indeed publish a biography of Mussolini in 1924, twenty years before, and was one of those captured and shot with Mussolini and Clara Petacci at Como in 1945 (Terrell, 1984, p.552). The similarity of names has tempted me to infer an oblique reference here to 'Muss., wrecked for an error' [Canto 116, l.7] (p.795) - 'Mussato' as a pun on 'mussare' (to boast, froth, hiss), along the lines of the critical remarks of the 'wide-awake', anti-government boys encountered by Pound in Rome in 1943.[5] This might also explain the fact that only ll.9-35 (excluding l.18) of this canto were printed in Marina Repubblicana (Heymann, 1976, p.351) in 1945. Pound certainly admired Mussolini, but his desire was always to 'svegliar' (awaken) him to certain new ideas. See also Ezzelino's complaint, l.141, at having been 'tradì' (betrayed) by 'him whom your friend translated' ('tradotto') - wrote a biography of?

l.53 - 'chloroform in verse' = ninna-nannarmi i versi [54][6]

I have adapted, here, Mark Twain's description of the Book of Mormon as 'chloroform in print' (1918, p. 87) to give the effect of Dazzi's 'lulling' verses. See note on ll.59-60 below.

ll.59-60 - 'over-affection ... over-kill' = Sovra-voler ... sovra-effetto.

Bacigalupo (1984, p.75) glosses this line as follows: 'Like Dante, Pound does not hesitate to coin new words (as with "ninna-nannare" above); needless to say, the result is often awkward'. 'Ninna-nannarmi' is a conflation of 'ninnananna' (lullaby) with 'ninnare' (to sing to sleep). There is, however, a case for regarding the whole poem as being written in a kind of 'Ital-ese' (on the analogy of 'Franglais'), perhaps in some ways more accessible to English readers with a little knowledge of Dante than to native Italians.

l.60 - 'all that damn'd blasting' = egli distrugger volle.

'May this not be a way of reflecting how closely the Vorticist Blast of the "Men of 1914" was followed by less cordial explosions?' (Bacigalupo, 1984, p.75).

l.66 - 'down by Tiber-side' = Lungotevere.

Canto 5, l.65: 'Tiber, dark with the cloak, wet cat gleaming in patches' (p.18)
Canto 74, l.730: '... hooves on the cobbles by Tevere' (p.446).

'Pound says he recognizes the voice he heard at his colleague's home, in Piazza Adriana, Rome - a typically Poundian (and Dantesque) aside' (Bacigalupo, 1984, pp.75-76).

l.68 - 'Macallè'.

'Makkalè was an outpost surrendered in 1941 when Italy lost Ethiopia to the Allies, while the Axis defeat at Alamein in 1942 was generally regarded as the turning-point of the war' (Carpenter, 1988, p.638).

l.68 - 'Gobi's' = gobi [69].

Canto 113, l.19: 'old Pumpelly crossed Gobi' (p.786).

Unless Pound has confused the African 'Makkalè' with the Asian 'Macao', the only explanation I can offer for this odd piece of geography is that the Gobi represented to him (and Marinetti) the ultimate in deserts.

l.80 - 'Eccerinus'.

Canto 29, l.33: 'All serfs of Eccelin my father da Romano' (p.142).

Dazzi's quotation from Mussato's play at l.79 (see note on l.51 above) proves sufficient to call up its hero, Ezzelino III da Romano (1194-1259), head of the Ghibellines, included (as 'Azzalino') among the tyrants in Circle VII of Dante's Hell (Inf. XII, 109-10).[7] Ezzelino's sister Cunizza (Par. IX, 28-31) had an affair with the troubadour Sordello - another Poundian connection (through Browning's Sordello).

l.84 - 'For all the air was trembling' = Perché tutta l'aria tremò.

Cavalcanti: 'Che fa di clarità l'aer tremare' [Sonetto VII, l.2]
Pound: 'And makyng the air to tremble with a bright clearenesse' (1984b, pp.38-39)
Canto 74, ll.798-99: 'e "fa di clarità l'aer tremare"
as in the manuscript of the Capitolare' (p.448).

A textual detail often stressed by Pound.

l.92 - 'Guelph slanderers' = Calunnia Guelfa.

Canto 95, ll.34-35: 'And over an arch in Vicenza, the stemma,
the coat of arms, stone: "Lapo, ghibbeline exile"' (p.644).

Why is 'Guelfa' capitalized in Pound's Italian text, and not 'ghibbelin' at l.165? Ezzelino was, after all, a leader of the Ghibbeline (Emperor's) party and an enemy of the Guelph (Church) party. Dante and Cavalcanti were both Guelphs, and both victims of internal dissension between 'white' and 'black' splinter-groups. In the translation, I have preserved this feature, but have made it consistent by putting 'Guelph' at the beginning of a sentence.

l.94 - 'in Romagna'.

Canto 8, l.151: 'In Romagna, teeming with cattle thieves' (p.32).

The scene, also, of the Malatesta Cantos (8-11). Bacigalupo (1984, p.78) adds, 'Pound wanted these cantos to be read by Mussolini, and the insistence on Romagna (three prominent laudatory mentions [Canto 73, ll.53, 98 & 102]) may have been intended as a hook to catch the attention of the Duce.'

l.95 - 'Bologna'.

Canto 26, l.164: 'Given Bologna, 14th. of August 1453' (p.126).

A city in the Romagna.

l.98 - 'Moroccans' = marocchini [97].

Identified as 'the multiracial Allied forces' by both Bacigalupo (1984, p.76) and Carpenter (1988, p.638).

l.100 - 'clench fists, salute' = s'affascia [99].

I have had to rearrange the order of action somewhat in order to echo the pun on 'fascismo' in the verb s'affascia (though the clenched fist is more of a Communist emblem - 'gather arms', perhaps?)

l.106 - 'this microbe' = quel mezzo-feto.

Bacigalupo, 1984, p.76: 'The speaker goes on to insult "that demi-foetus" (Victor Emmanuel III) who "sold all of Italy and the Empire" (by abetting the fall of Mussolini and initiating the armistice)'. See note on l.26 above.

l.108 - 'Forlì in flames & Rimini forsaken' = Rimini arsa e Forlì distrutta.

W. H. Auden: 'Think in this year what pleased the dancers best:
When Austria died and China was forsaken,
Shanghai in flames and Teruel re-taken' [1938] (1979, p.35)
Canto 26, l.89: '... Lord Sigismundo da Rimini' (p.123)
Canto 80, l.147: 'and the front of the Tempio, Rimini' (p.497).

Forlì is the central town of Romagna (Toynbee, 1968, p.288). Sigismundo Pandolfo Malatesta (1417-1468), hero of the Malatesta Cantos (see note on l.94 above), built the Tempio for his mistress and third wife Ixotta (or Isotta). See also ll.112 ('[il] letto arcano della divina Ixotta ') and 115 («Sei tu Sigismundo?») below.

l.109 - 'Gemisto's shrine' = il sepolcro di Gemisto.

Canto 8, ll.116-18: 'And the Greek Emperor was in Florence ...
And with him Gemisthus Plethon' (p.31)
Canto 83, l.3: 'Gemisto stemmed all from Neptune' (p.528).

Gemisthus Plethon (c.1355-1450), a Neo-Platonic Byzantine Philosopher (Cookson, 1985, p.19), buried in the Tempio at Rimini (see note on l.108 above).

l.119 - 'a Borgia ... than of a Pacelli' = Da un Borgia che non da un Pacelli.

Canto 30, ll.63-64: '... that year died Pope Alessandro Borgia,
Il Papa mori.' (p.149)
Canto 100, l.186: '... das Bankhaus Pacelli kompromittiert' (p.719).

Rodrigo Borgia, Pope Alexander VI (1492-1503), is compared in corruption to Eugenio Pacelli, Pope Pius XII (1939-58).

l.120 - 'Sixtus, too, was a son of usury' = Figlio d'usuraio fu Sisto.

Francesco della Rovere, Pope Sixtus IV (1471-84), builder of the Church of S. Pietro in Vincoli (see Canto 74, l.797, 448), is probably the 'Sixtus' referred to here. He was involved in the Pazzi conspiracy against the Medici, which would account for the mention of two Medici popes at ll.133-34: 'Clement was a banker's brat - a son/ Of usury il decimo Leone' - Leo X (1513-21) and Clement VII (1523-34).

l.124 - 'Farinacci'.

Roberto Farinacci (1892-1945), a prominent Fascist politician, executed in 1945, who 'favoured war on the side of Germany in 1940' and was 'a power behind the scenes during the brief history of the Italian Social Republic [Salò]' (Coppa, 1985, p.147). ‘Mangia-foglia’ (literally ‘leaf-eater’) is a pun linking his ‘farinaceous’ surname with an Italian idiom meaning ‘to catch on quick.’ Pound's other,'lesser known heroes of the same ilk' (Bacigalupo, 1984, p.76), include (ll.128-31): Tellera, Maletti, Miele, de Carolis, Lorenzini, Guido Piacenza, Orsi, Pedrieri, Baldassare, Borsarelli, and Volpini. The only one of these surnames to come up again in other Cantos is that of Paolo Orsi (1859-1935), an Italian archaeologist (Terrell, 1984, pp.673-74) - Canto 103, ll.138-39: 'and Orsi: Anch'io sono/ antichità Siracusana' (p.736) - a no more than half-plausible identification.

l.133 - 'a banker's brat' = Fiol' di banchiere.

Canto 24, l.28: '... Ugo fiolo del Signore ...' (p.110).

An archaic form of 'figlio' (son), repeated at l.142: 'fiol d'Orco'.

l.136 - 'Ez-zelino' = Ezzelino.

See note on l.80 above. Carpenter (1988, p.639), speculates that Ezzelino da Romano 'seems to stand for Ezra himself, or some aspects of him, since he defends having "made fun of reason" [l.147], and says that "one single falsification" [l.152] does more harm to the world than "all my outbursts" [l.153]'. I accept this identification, and have signalled it by writing 'Ez-zelino'.

l.143 - 'Satan's son' = fiol d'Orco [142].

Canto 39, ll.64-65: 'Ad Orcum autem quisquam?
nondum nave nigra pervenit.....' (p.195).
Terrell, 1980, p.161: 'Has anyone ever been to Hell in a black ship?'

(Odyssey X, 502 - in Andreas Divus' 1538 Latin translation). See note on l.133 above.

l.145 - 'Adonis was disembowelled ...' = Il bello Adonide morì d'un porco.

Canto 23, ll.89-90: '... said the helmsman, "I think they
"Are howling because Adonis died virgin."' (p.109).

l.146 - 'Simply to make the Cyprian ...' = A far piangere la Ciprigna bella.

W. H. Auden: 'Simply by being tiny, made her cry' [1940] (1979, p.99)
Dante: 'la bella Ciprigna' (Par. VIII, 2)
Canto 93, l.224: 'e la bella Ciprigna' (p.631).

Venus, ruler of the third sphere (see note on Canto 73, l.23). Cunizza, Ezzelino's sister, is in this part of Paradise (see note on l.80 above).

l.147 - 'tempting to make a joke of it' = Se feci giocattolo della ragione.

In the Italian, Ezzelino is excusing himself from having made a joke of reason, and says that having a 'bull' (usury?) to slaughter excuses such a 'pigeon' ('canard' would be the French equivalent). Mere choice of 'animal' [l.151] does not make (i.e. cannot discredit) a belief. I replace the bull/pigeon dichotomy with a metaphor of weight: bull/pig - 'ol' Muss' the 'false load of bull' (Canto 74, l.6: 'the dead bullock' (425)); and Ez-zelino's tricks the 'pig in a poke': behaviour excusable under the circumstances.

l.158 - 'Byzantium had defiled ...' = Bisanzio fu madre del trambusto.

Canto 96, l.304: 'Mr. Yeats called it Byzantium' (p.661)
Canto 110, l.95: 'Byzance, a tomb, an end' (p.780).

l.161 - 'Caesar sapped not ...' = Né Cesare se stesso mise in schegge.

Canto 89, l.358-59: 'Gold was under the Pontifex,
Caesar usurped that' (p.602).

In the Cantos, this generally refers to Julius Caesar; here , however, it seems to be to 'Caesar' as an institution.

l.162 - 'Augustus, before Peter ...' = Nì Pietro pietra fu prima che Augusto.

Canto 80, ll.304-7: '... from Julius Caesar ...
who crossed the Rubicon up near Rimini
Where is, or was, an arch of Augustus' (p.502).

The pun on 'Pietro pietra' I have continued on the next line, 'The rock sustained ...', to give the necessary hint of 'upon this rock I will build my church' (Matthew 16, xviii).

l.165 - 'Fought for in ...' = E'l caso ghibellin ben seppe il fiorentino.

Canto 16, ll.21-22: 'And in the west mountain, Il Fiorentino,
Seeing hell in his mirror' (p.68).

In Canto 16, 'Il Fiorentino' refers to Dante, 'who as he left Hell could see Satan, as in a mirror, only backwards or "upside down"' (Terrell, 1980, p.69); I have interpreted the uncapitalized 'il fiorentino' here as the everyday inhabitants of Florence, Cavalcanti’s 'Gente stizzosa e leggiera' (Canto 73, l.131).

l.169 - 'birds who sang in counterpoint' = molti uccelli fecer' contrappunto.

Canto 74, l.206: 'with two larks in contrappunto' (p.431).

l.173 - 'Placidia fui, sotto l'oro dormivo'.

Dante: 'Ricorditi di me che son la Pia' (Purg. V, 133)
Cavalcanti: 'Oro, argento, azzurro in ornamenti' (Sonetto XVIII, 8)
Pound: 'And gold and silver and azure and ornament' (1984b, pp.60-61)
Canto 21, ll.87-89: 'Gold fades in the gloom,
Under the blue-black roof, Placidia's
Of the exarchate ...' (p.98).

Galla Placidia (c.388-450), Empress of the Western Roman Empire, buried in Ravenna. Cookson (1985, p.29), describes her tomb as 'one of the sacred places in the Cantos'. Bacigalupo (1984, p.77), remarks that 'Out of the chorus [of birds] ... a woman announces herself, somewhat like Pia in Purgatorio V'.

l.175 - 'Malinconia di donna e la dolcezza'.

Cavalcanti:
'D'alcuna bella donna gentiluzza
Tu non avresti iniquità sì forte,
Né tanta angoscia, o tormento d'amore,
Né sì rinvolto di malinconia
'
(Sonetto XXV, 8-11)
Pound:
'Though by some noble woman partly healèd,
Still you could not be so sin-laden or quite
So bound by anguish or by love's abstractions
Nor so enwrapped in naked melancholy’
(1984b, pp.74-75).

That this sonnet meant something particular to Pound is confirmed by the sub-title he gave his translation: '"Hoot Zah!!!"'

l.193 - 'Back to the night' = prima ch'io torni/ Nella notte.

Dante: 'Poi che ciascuno fu tornato ne lo
Punto del cerchio in che avanti s'era' (Par. XI, 13-14).

Bacigalupo (1984, pp. 77-78), interprets this as meaning 'He will, Ezzelino promises in the end, "return in the night/ Where the skull sings"'. I prefer to interpret 'tornare in' as Ezzelino returning to the night - with the promise that the soldiers ('fanti') will return (as in ll.99-102 above), and have supplied an example of this usage from Dante's Commedia to substantiate the point.

l.195 - 'those banners will come in' = torneranno le bandiere.

W. B. Yeats: 'That all are oath-bound men:
Those banners come not in' [1939] (1989, p.455)

Another attempt to find an English-language equivalent for the Dantean echoes in Pound's Italian.


CANTO LXXIII


l.2 - 'waking in the wasted air' = svegliandomi nell'aere perso.

Dante: '"O animal grazioso e benigno,
Che visitando vai per l'aere perso' (Inf. V, 89-90).

I see this as the dark, 'trembling' air of Pound's own chamber, 'wasted' by so many supernatural visitors. Bacigalupo (1984, p.78) adds that 'the aere perso functions as a metaphor of the dark days at war's end'.

l.4 - 'seemed like a cavalier' = quel ch'io vidi mi pareva andar a cavallo.

Dante: 'Forse cui Guido vostro ebbe a disdegno' (Inf. X, 63)
Canto 4, ll.124-25: '... Madonna in hortulo,
As Cavalcanti had seen her' (p.16).

Guido Cavalcanti (1250-1300) is referred to in the pun on 'cavallo' here, also at l.24: 'cavalcante' (riding), and is 'quel Guido che amasti' (that Guido whom you [Pound] loved) at l.19. Canto 36 is a version of Cavalcanti's canzone 'Donna mi Prega', whose form is again echoed here. Pound wrote in the introduction to his complete translation of Cavalcanti's poetry, 'if he is not among the major prophets, he has at least his place in the canon ... with Sappho and Theocritus; with all those who have sung, not all the modes of life, but some of them, unsurpassedly' (1984b, p.17).

l.11 - 'Roosevelt, Churchill ... Eden'.

Canto 97, l.114: 'Will they get rid of the Rooseveltian dunghill' (p.671).

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945), 32nd President of the U.S.A., Robert Anthony Eden (1897-1977), Churchill's Foreign Minister - more of the servants of international usury. For Churchill, see note on Canto 72, l.7 above.

l.16 - 'At Sarzana I lay still' = Morto che fui a Sarzana.

Pound (1984b, p.21): 'Guido was sent with the "Whites" [a Guelf faction - see note on Canto 72, l.92 above] to Sarzana, where he caught his death fever. Dante at this time (1300) being a prior of Florence, was party to decree of exile'.

l.23 - 'Venus's third sphere' = la Ciprigna sfera [22].

Dante: '"Voi che 'ntendeno il terzo ciel movete' (Par. VIII, 37)
Canto 77, l.228: 'in the 3rd sphere do not argue' (p.472).

See also ll.100-1: 'Io tornato son'/ dal terzo cielo'.

l.28 - 'our città dolente' = La città dolente.

Dante: 'Per me si va ne la città dolente' (Inf. III, 1).

Firenze = Florence.

l.33 - 'Passing through Arimino' = Passai per Arimino.

Canto 9, ll.81-82: '... Sigismund Malatesta
Lord of Arimininum ...' (p.36).

'Arimininum' is the ancient name of Rimini, a seaport in Forlì province (Terrell, 1980, p.96). See notes on Canto 72, ll.94 & 95 above.

l.39 - 'with a German on each arm' = ch'aveva a braccio due tedeschi.

Canto 84, ll.105-12: 'e poi io dissi alla sorella
della pastorella dei suini:
e questi americani?
si conducono bene?
ed ella: poco.
Poco, poco.
ed io: peggio dei tedeschi?
ed ella: uguale, thru the barbed wire' (p.540).

Terrell (1984, 466): 'and then I asked the sister/ of the little shepherdess of the hogs/ and these Americans?/ do they behave well?/ and she: not very well/ not very well at all/ and I: worse than the Germans?/ and she: the same'. An advance in insight? Not perhaps so much as the latter passage would suggest on its own.

l.49 - 'I felt a wave of passion' = io ero ghiotto/ d'amore.

Dante: 'che di loro abbracciar mi facea ghiotto' (Inf. XVI, 51).

l.55 - '"mop up" German scum' = 'spugnar' i tedeschi.

Dante: 'trassi de l'acqua non sazia la spugna' (Purg. XX, 3).

ll.75-76 – ‘She played that prank / for love:’ = Lei dava un vezzo / per puro amore.

Bacigalupo (1991, p.18) argues for the reading ‘le davo un vezzo’ [‘I would give a trinket’] from the first printing in Marina Repubblicana. As he remarks, the revised text means ‘she gave a trinket’ (to Cavalcanti?). I bow to his superior knowledge of his mother tongue, but have preferred to play on possible alternative meanings for the word ‘vezzo’ (habit, pet trick, affectation).

l.103 - 'To see the North reborn' = Nel settentrion rinasce la patria [106].

Mussolini's Salò Republic, based in the North of Italy.

l.105 - 'In this "morte saison"' = Che bell' inverno!.

Pound: 'Towards the Noel that morte saison'
('Villonaud for this Yule' [1915] (1984a, p.19))

Wolves were running in the streets of Montmartre when Villon wrote the original phrase.


Notes:

[1] Dilligan, Parins & Bender (1981), has been invaluable in this respect, as has Terrell (1980, pp.1-360) & (1984, pp.361-791).


[2] All Italian definitions are quoted from vol.1 of Reynolds (1962); and have been cross-checked against the Dizionario Garzanti (1978).


[3] All quotations from the Cantos are taken from the 4th Collected Edition (1987).


[4] All Dante references are quoted from Grandgent's edition of the Commedia (Alighieri, 1933); with additional information from Wilkins, Bergin & De Vito's Concordance (1965).


[5] de Rachewiltz (1971): '"Sono svegli," Babbo said as we left - Wide-awake, those boys' (quoted in Carpenter, 1988, p.619).


[6] I have adopted this convention to signal a difference in line numbers between the translation and the Italian original.


[7] Information from Toynbee, (1968, pp. 77-78.) Bacigalupo (1984, p. 75), adds that 'It could in fact be claimed that Dazzi does not actually appear in the vision [as he is not yet dead], but is only believed to be present by Pound-as-hero'.



Works cited:

  • Alighieri, Dante. (1933). La divina commedia. Ed. C. H. Grandgent. Boston: Heath.

  • Auden, W. H. (1979). Selected Poems. Ed. Edward Mendelson. London: Faber.

  • Bacigalupo, Massimo. (1984) 'The Poet at War: Ezra Pound's Suppressed Italian Cantos.' The South Atlantic Quarterly 83: 69-79.

  • Bacigalupo, Massimo. (1991). 'Ezra Pound's Cantos 72 and 73: An Annotated Translation.' Paideuma 20: 9-41.

  • Bondanella, Peter, and Julia Conaway Bondanella. (1979). Dictionary of Italian Literature. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

  • Carpenter, Humphrey. (1988). A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound. London: Faber.

  • Cookson, William. (1985). A Guide to the Cantos of Ezra Pound. New York: Persea Books.

  • Coppa, Frank J., ed. (1985). Dictionary of Modern Italian History. Westport, Connecticut: Greenwood Press.

  • de Rachewiltz, Mary. (1971). Discretions. London: Faber.

  • de Rachewiltz, Mary. (1987). 'Translating the Cantos.' Michigan Quarterly Review 26: 524-34.

  • Dilligan, Robert J., James W. Parins, and Todd K. Bender. (1981). A Concordance to Ezra Pound's Cantos. New York: Garland.

  • Dizionario Garzanti: Italiano Inglese, Inglese Italiano. (1978). Milano: Garzanti.

  • Eastman, Barbara. (1980). 'The Gap in The Cantos: 72 and 73.' Agenda 18: 142-56.

  • Heymann, C. David. (1976). Ezra Pound: The Last Rower, A Political Profile. New York: Viking Press.

  • Laughlin, James. (1989). Pound as Wuz: Recollections and Interpretations. London: Peter Owen.

  • Pound, Ezra. (1987). The Cantos. 1954. 4th ed. London: Faber.

  • Pound, Ezra. (1984a). Selected Poems 1908-1959. London: Faber.

  • Pound, Ezra. (1984b). The Translations. London: Faber.

  • Reynolds, Barbara, ed. (1962). The Cambridge Italian Dictionary. 2 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

  • Skelton, John. (1965). The Poetical Works. Ed. Alexander Dyce. 2 vols. 1843. New York: Garland Press.

  • Stock, Noel. (1970). The Life of Ezra Pound. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

  • Terrell, Carroll F. (1980). A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound. 2 vols. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Vol. 1.

  • Terrell, Carroll F. (1984). A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound. 2 vols. Berkeley & Los Angeles: University of California Press. Vol. 2.

  • Toynbee, Paget. (1968). A Dictionary of Proper Names and Notable Matters in the Works of Dante. 1898. Rev. Charles S. Singleton. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

  • Twain, Mark. (1918). Roughing It and the Innocents at Home. London: Chatto.

  • Wilkins, Ernest Hatch, Thomas Goddard Bergin, and Anthony J. De Vito. (1965). A Concordance to the Divine Comedy of Dante Alighieri. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

  • Yeats, W. B. (1989). Poems. Ed. A. Norman Jeffares. London: Macmillan.




Further Annotations and Comments

Posted here by kind permission of
Andrew Mason

[July-August, 2009]


l.ii - Presenza

Canto 78: '"not a right but a duty"
those words still stand uncancelled,
"Presente!"
and merrda for the monopolists' (p.499)

re: the cry of "Presente": this was also the way Spanish Falangists saluted their leader, José Antonio Primo de Riviera, who had been executed by the Republicans in 1936. At roll calls José Antonio's name would always be called out and the militiamen would answer "Present!"

As Terrell notes, "not a right but a duty" was an Italian fascist slogan, in full "Liberty is not a right but a duty". Terrell also notes that Pound had this engraved on his stationary. Terrell also addresses "Presente!" at p.417 note 50 in a rather thorough manner, writing "A significant word at Fascist gatherings" and quoting Finer: "For members who have died in great exploits...When the roll is called and the unbreathing lips remain silent, his circle of Fascist comrades reply, "Presente!" Finer dubs it a kind of Fascist transubstantiation. Terrell notes that M de R thought this assessment was a gross overstatement. I have not read her original thoughts so shouldn't comment to much in that regard, but I would say that Finer has not overstated the ritual nor the deep meaning of the word in the Fascist death cult. All this to say that I am not sure that my mention of José Antonio (who I don't believe is mentioned in the Cantos - I couldn't find the mention of "José" Terrell states is on p.466) would add anything - perhaps a reference to Terrell would be more appropriate.

I note that you translate "Presente" at line 35 as "Atten-SHUN". I understand that poetic translation is a delicate matter and anyone who reads Pound's translations knows he would have been pleased with any translation of his own work so long as the message and the lyricism were intact, and I certainly think your translation of 35 lives up to these Poundian requirements. However, Pound has used the term, untranslated, in another Canto (Pound's own translation of 72 leaves in the Italian word). The term also has a specific symbolic significance to an ideological viewpoint that is expressed in Italian (and Spanish) and that may be lost by translating it as a variant of "Attention", the Anglo-Saxon military drill term. Pound's use of the term in Canto 78 in the context of an "uncancelled" fascist slogan certainly could be the basis for an argument that it was used in 72 in a similar fascist context.

At l.36 you use the term "command" with regard to your translation of presente - I have no Italian, but I did a quick internet search for a few of the Italian words. Is this what you have for grido? The (albeit online and non-professional) Italian dictionary I used translates this as "scream" or "cry", noting also that grido di battaglia is "battle cry". Given the symbolic meaning of "Presente" the term may not have been so much of a command as a cry, perhaps a fascist cry linked Marinetti's desire, after death, to keep fighting, his desire for another body (e.g. linked to the notion of transubstantiation associated with the term) - perhaps the dead Fascist wants to have Pound cry "Presente" for him, to acknowledge that he still fights after death or - at even more of a stretch - perhaps it is a reflection of the dire situation of "the cause" that dead fascists have to cry "Presente" for themselves.

l.26 - 'the twenty-first of September'

I would only add that fascists and sympathisers argued that this reversal was an example of mala fides, especially as Badoglio had initially insisted that the régime change would not alter Italy's commitment to the Axis war effort.

ll.90-93: 'Of discharged breath (or on a sick- / Bed, when a man's about to die): / "Guelph slanderers! Their weapon was it ever - / Calumny ... still is; world without end"

ll.164-65: '"The lawgiver is law's custodian"
- Fought for in Florence by the ghibelline.'

I think it is important to note that both Cavalcanti and Dante were actually of the Guelf faction ("White Guelfs") that ended up opposing papal authority.

This theme is also seen in the line:

l.162 - 'Augustus, before Peter ...' [or Emperor before Pope]

In other words, Dante and Cavalcanti were what pro-Imperial Pound would have considered "good Guelfs", e.g. anti-papist, and not beset by "Guelf calumny", and perhaps sympathetic to the Ghibellines.

ll.194-95: 'Where the skull sings our soldiers / Will return, those banners will come in.'

Although I do not disagree with the way you have characterised these lines, I think it is of note that a black flag (or banner) bearing a skull was a symbol of the Brigate Nere, or Black Brigades - units of police/blackshirt militia/fascists/fellow travelers who helped the Germans battle partisans within the Italian Social Republic (RSI in Italian), and who were also responsible for significant atrocities.

Allied bombing

A theme in both cantos is damage to Italy's cultural sites as a result of Allied action, especially with reference to Rimini (the destruction of the apse of San Francesco/Tempio Malatestiano/Ixotta's memorials within - Piero della Francesca's fresco of Malatesta was removed to Mantua for safekeeping in 1944). This is in keeping with official ISR propaganda - as an amateur philatelist (although focused on France, so I can only make superficial comments re Italy) I can note that many of the definitive stamps issued by the ISR displayed cultural sites destroyed by the Allies, with the legend "Hostium Rabies Diruit". Other pieces of philatelic mini-propaganda show a young boy beating a drum with the legend "All' armi", which also fits into the general theme of the cantos (youth taking up the 'cause'; " 109-111: "what girls, what boys wear black!"). I have often wondered whether Pound was in some way inspired by the stamps he saw on his mail, although perhaps it is more likely that he was influenced by other forms of Republican propaganda with similar content, e.g. newspapers (especially the Marina Repubblicana, as you note).

Patronage

One of the themes of the Cantos was of good patrons and poor patrons and the results of good and poor patronage, with e.g. Malatesta, Cunizza and Jefferson being good patrons (educated, surrounding themselves with the best or accomplishing great works or otherwise fulfilling their duties to kin and society) contrasted with others, like the unfortunate Italian poet (I forget his name) crushed in a well after the Pope made him a governor of an area he could not control or Mozart's ungrateful mentor. The general feeling I got from the 'fascist' cantos was that Pound may even have been suggesting that Mussolini himself had been a poor leader, turning from the radical, but fascist, Farinacci ("who had rough hands" e.g. the castor-oil king), and signing a concordat with Pacelli. Mussolini falls, his regime in tatters and Italy in ruins - the heroes Pound celebrates are not the fascist leaders but are instead the young fascists, those youths "who wear the black"; who ostensibly should have been the subject of Mussolini's patronage but in the wake of his failure seem to redeem his ideology by their very selflessness, by their rallying to what is compared to the other 'lost cause', that of the Ghibellines. Propaganda of course, but the Black Brigades in the North did attract enough supporters to trigger a real civil war in Italy.

Ideology of hate

I am not sure it is fair to say, as O’Connor did in his review of your work, that Pound propagated an "ideology of hate", at least no more so than the many Communist authors and artists of his time did. Pound may have said hateful things throughout his poetic career but I don't think it consumed his oeuvre, no more say, that Sartre or Picasso's Stalinism did with regards to their work/legacy. Pound was no Brasillach. I think at times Pound honestly believed he was depicting an eternal war between mud/darkness and light/gold in his work, and he associated the Guelfs/papacy/Churchill/Roosevelt/the Jews/the federal bank with usury, corruption and war and the Ghibellines/the Holy Roman Empire/Mussolini and even Hitler/fascism/Jefferson/social credit with order, peace, law and a sort of confucianism. It is a view of history totally alien from our perspective, but when I think about it, it probably does not differ tremendously from the political views of the "extreme" left today (pacifist in the sense that wars are believed to be the result of conspiracy theories or the cynical manipulations of cartels/anti-Zionist/anti-capitalist/anti-American and anti-British/sympathetic to dictators, be it Castro or otherwise). Had he been young today I wonder if Pound would be considered right of left. As it stands I think he was as much left as right (but I suppose this applies to all fascists and national socialists). Do you reckon I am wrong?

Any responses or further comments on these issues can (of course) be recorded here as comments - or (if you prefer) sent directly to Andrew through the link here.

8 comments:

Richard Taylor said...

Just reading this quickly I am reminded of how great a poet/textualiser Pound was - the content hardly matters - although I recall being disgusted - or shocked? - by the other sections of his Italian or fascist Cantos you translated.

You are not selling anything here so copywrite shouldn't be an issue - I know you are sensitive on this issue though - Comrade Hamiltonus of course goes a bit to the other extreme...

I like reading the Cantos even when I don't know all the references - I do have a crib ... I am also making my way through 'A' vast as THAT is... Zukofsky - Jewish - a loyal friend to cranky "fascist" and anti-semitic Pound - Marinetti - brilliant but a fascist.*

But it is always interesting the way Pound fragments amd mixes languages and 'voices' - Bernstein's essay in "A Poetics" called 'Pounding Fascism' gives a good 'take' on Ezra and his contribution despite his invoking of the cannon. His greatness despite himlself.

We owe him a revolution in literature. We could do without the anti-semtism etc - but there we are - there, or here in part, is Pound.

* I love the way that way he jumps over the place switching from the now to the past as if the past is immediately present and someone he knew ages ago connects to some historical figure trying to get inside his body or whatever! Even his dubius 'attacks" on Churchill etc are amusing and seem to fit in... (Of course I cant coincide quite - on his view of Churchill!) But he had some cogent points did old Ez.

Richard Taylor said...

BTW I cant read Italian but this translation looks great to me.

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Jack Ross said...

Thanks for those kind and caring words -- "By their fruits ye shall know them," as the good book puts it.

I think that's enough of anonymous comments on this blog ... from now on I think people will have to own up to who they are first.

Richard Taylor said...

Jack - keep courage. Dont let scum scare you.

Jack Ross said...

Thanks Richard -- I appreciate it. And congratulations on your book. It's good to see your work properly showcased at last, especially that fine sequence of hospital poems.

Richard Taylor said...

Jack - thanks. It is great to have a reasonable book (mind you RED was good I think also.) My daughter Dionne likes Hospital as something of my own history is in there. It was good that Scott edited that as I had - well I had a lot - too many for Brief.

Scott's book is great also. Will Joy's is hard to read which is ok - she is utilising puns and clever phrases and sayngs etc etc

Scott is interesting in eschewing the obviously "poetic" - for the prose poem or text; and Will Joy is using textual layout etc...quite an unusual take on it also.

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