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Title: Lustra of Ezra Pound
Author: Pound, Ezra
Language: English
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                         LUSTRA OF EZRA POUND

                            [Illustration:

            _From photo portrait by Alvin Langdon Coburn._

                             EZRA POUND.]



                                LUSTRA

                                  OF

                              EZRA POUND

      _Definition_--“LUSTRUM: an offering for the sins of the whole
      people, made by the censors at the expiration of their
      five years of office.”

      _Elementary Latin Dictionary of Charlton T. Lewis._

                                LONDON
                      ELKIN MATHEWS, CORK STREET
                               M CM XVI


     Certain of these poems have appeared in _Poetry_, _Blast_, _Poetry
     and Drama_, _Smart Set_, and _Others_, to the editors of which
     magazines the author wishes to make due acknowledgment.

                                              E. P.



                                 V. L.

                  _Cui dono lepidum novum libellum._



CONTENTS


                                                                    PAGE

Tenzone                                                                9

The Condolence                                                        10

The Garret                                                            11

The Garden                                                            12

Ortus                                                                 13

Salutation                                                            14

The Spring                                                            15

Albâtre                                                               16

Causa                                                                 16

A Pact                                                                17

Surgit Fama                                                           18

Preference                                                            19

Dance Figure                                                          20

April                                                                 22

Gentildonna                                                           22

The Rest                                                              23

Les Millwin                                                           24

Further Instructions                                                  25

A Song of the Degrees                                                 26

Ite                                                                   27

Dum Capitolium Scandet                                                27

καλὀν                                                                  27

The Study in Aesthetics                                               28

The Bellaires                                                         29

Salvationists                                                         32

Arides                                                                33

The Bath Tub                                                          33

Amitiés                                                               34

To Dives                                                              35

Ladies                                                                36

Coda                                                                  37

Ancora                                                                38

“Dompna pois de me no’us cal”                                         39

The Coming of War: Actaeon                                            42

After Ch’u Yuan                                                       43

Liu Ch’e                                                              43

Fan-piece, for her Imperial Lord                                      44

Ts’ai Chi’h                                                           44

In a Station of the Metro                                             45

Alba                                                                  45

Heather                                                               45

The Faun                                                              46

Pervigilium                                                           46

The Encounter                                                         47

Tempora                                                               47

Black Slippers: Bellotti                                              48

Society                                                               48

Image from D’Orleans                                                  49

Papyrus                                                               49

“Ione, Dead the Long Year”                                            50

Shop Girl                                                             50

To Formianus’ Young Lady Friend                                       51

Tame Cat                                                              52

L’Art, 1910                                                           52

Simulacra                                                             53

Women before a Shop                                                   53

Epilogue                                                              54

The Social Order                                                      55

The Tea Shop                                                          56

Epitaphs                                                              57

Our Contemporaries                                                    57

Ancient Wisdom, Rather Cosmic                                         58

The Three Poets                                                       58

The Gipsy                                                             59

The Game of Chess                                                     60

Provincia Deserta                                                     61


CATHAY

Song of the Bowmen of Shu                                             67

The Beautiful Toilet                                                  69

The River Song                                                        70

The River Merchant’s Wife: A Letter                                   73

The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance                                           75

Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin                                        76

Lament of the Frontier Guard                                          78

Exile’s Letter                                                        80

Four Poems of Departure

Separation on the River Kiang                                         85

Taking Leave of a Friend                                              85

Leave-taking near Shoku                                               86

The City of Choan                                                     87

South Folk in Cold Country                                            88

Sennin Poem by Kakuhaku                                               89

A Ballad of the Mulberry Road                                         90

Old Idea of Choan by Rosoriu                                          91

To-Em-Mei’s “The Unmoving Cloud”                                      93

Near Perigord                                                         95

Villanelle: The Psychological Hour                                   104

Dans un Omnibus de Londres                                           107

To a Friend Writing on Cabaret Dancers                               109

Homage to Quintus Septimius Florentis Christianus                    113

Fish and the Shadow                                                  115



LUSTRA OF EZRA POUND



Tenzone


    Will people accept them?
              (i.e. these songs).
    As a timorous wench from a centaur
              (or a centurion),
    Already they flee, howling in terror.

    Will they be touched with the verisimilitudes?
              Their virgin stupidity is untemptable.
    I beg you, my friendly critics,
    Do not set about to procure me an audience.

    I mate with my free kind upon the crags;
              the hidden recesses
    Have heard the echo of my heels,
              in the cool light,
              in the darkness.



The Condolence

    _A mis soledades voy,_
    _De mis soledades vengo,_
    _Porque por andar conmigo_
    _Mi bastan mis pensamientos._
                Lope de Vega.


    O my fellow sufferers, songs of my youth,
    A lot of asses praise you because you are “virile,”
    We, you, I! We are “Red Bloods”!
    Imagine it, my fellow sufferers--
    Our maleness lifts us out of the ruck,
            Who’d have foreseen it?

    O my fellow sufferers, we went out under the trees,
    We were in especial bored with male stupidity.
    We went forth gathering delicate thoughts,
    Our “_fantastikon_” delighted to serve us.
    We were not exasperated with women,
            for the female is ductile.

    And now you hear what is said to us:
    We are compared to that sort of person
    Who wanders about announcing his sex
    As if he had just discovered it.
    Let us leave this matter, my songs,
            and return to that which concerns us.



The Garret


    Come let us pity those who are better off than we are.
    Come, my friend, and remember
          that the rich have butlers and no friends,
    And we have friends and no butlers.
    Come let us pity the married and the unmarried.

    Dawn enters with little feet
          like a gilded Pavlova,
    And I am near my desire.
    Nor has life in it aught better
    Than this hour of clear coolness,
          the hour of waking together.



The Garden

    _En robe de parade._
                Samain.


    Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
    She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
    And she is dying piece-meal
                      of a sort of emotional anæmia.

    And round about there is a rabble
    Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
    They shall inherit the earth.

    In her is the end of breeding.
    Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.
    She would like someone to speak to her,
    And is almost afraid that I
                      will commit that indiscretion.



Ortus


    How have I laboured?
    How have I not laboured
    To bring her soul to birth,
    To give these elements a name and a centre!

    She is beautiful as the sunlight, and as fluid.
    She has no name, and no place.
    How have I laboured to bring her soul into separation;
    To give her a name and her being!

    Surely you are bound and entwined,
    You are mingled with the elements unborn;
    I have loved a stream and a shadow.

    I beseech you enter your life.
    I beseech you learn to say “I”
    When I question you:
    For you are no part, but a whole;
    No portion, but a being.



Salutation


    O generation of the thoroughly smug
                    and thoroughly uncomfortable,
    I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,
    I have seen them with untidy families,
    I have seen their smiles full of teeth
                    and heard ungainly laughter.

    And I am happier than you are,
    And they were happier than I am;
    And the fish swim in the lake
                    and do not even own clothing.



The Spring


    Cydonian spring with her attendant train,
    Maelids and water-girls,
    Stepping beneath a boisterous wind from Thrace,
    Throughout this sylvan place
    Spreads the bright tips,
    And every vine-stock is
    Clad in new brilliancies.
                            And wild desire
    Falls like black lightning.
    O bewildered heart,
    Though every branch have back what last year lost,
    She, who moved here amid the cyclamen,
    Moves only now a clinging tenuous ghost.



Albâtre


    This lady in the white bath-robe which she calls a peignoir
    Is, for the time being, the mistress of my friend,
    And the delicate white feet of her little white dog
    Are not more delicate than she is,
    Nor would Gautier himself have despised their contrasts in whiteness
    As she sits in the great chair
    Between the two indolent candles.



Causa


    I join these words for four people,
    Some others may overhear them,
    O world, I am sorry for you,
    You do not know these four people.



A Pact


    I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman--
    I have detested you long enough.
    I come to you as a grown child
    Who has had a pig-headed father;
    I am old enough now to make friends.
    It was you that broke the new wood,
    Now is a time for carving.
    We have one sap and one root--
    Let there be commerce between us.



Surgit Fama


    There is a truce among the gods,
    Korè is seen in the North
    Skirting the blue-gray sea
    In gilded and russet mantle.

    The corn has again its mother and she, Leuconoë,
    That failed never women,
    Fails not the earth now.

    The tricksome Hermes is here;
    He moves behind me
    Eager to catch my words,
    Eager to spread them with rumour;
    To set upon them his change
    Crafty and subtle;
    To alter them to his purpose;
    But do thou speak true, even to the letter:

    “Once more in Delos, once more is the altar a-quiver.
    Once more is the chant heard.
    Once more are the never abandoned gardens
    Full of gossip and old tales.”



Preference


    It is true that you say the gods are more use to you than fairies,
    But for all that I have seen you
              on a high, white, noble horse,
    Like some strange queen in a story.

    It is odd that you should be covered with long robes
              and trailing tendrils and flowers;
    It is odd that you should be changing your face
              and resembling some other woman to plague me;
    It is odd that you should be hiding yourself
    In the cloud of beautiful women who do not concern me.

    And I, who follow every seed-leaf upon the wind?
    You will say that I deserve this.



Dance Figure

_For the Marriage in Cana of Galilee_


    Dark eyed,
    O woman of my dreams,
    Ivory sandaled,
    There is none like thee among the dancers,
    None with swift feet.

    I have not found thee in the tents,
    In the broken darkness.
    I have not found thee at the well-head
    Among the women with pitchers.

    Thine arms are as a young sapling under the bark;
    Thy face as a river with lights.

    White as an almond are thy shoulders;
    As new almonds stripped from the husk.

    They guard thee not with eunuchs;
    Not with bars of copper.

    Gilt turquoise and silver are in the place of thy rest.
    A brown robe, with threads of gold woven in patterns,
                hast thou gathered about thee,
    O Nathat-Ikanaie, “Tree-at-the-river.”

    As a rillet among the sedge are thy hands upon me;
    Thy fingers a frosted stream.

    Thy maidens are white like pebbles;
    Their music about thee!

    There is none like thee among the dancers;
    None with swift feet.



April

    RIGHT
    _Nympharum membra disjecta._


    Three spirits came to me
    And drew me apart
    To where the olive boughs
    Lay stripped upon the ground:
    Pale carnage beneath bright mist.



Gentildonna


    She passed and left no quiver in the veins, who now
    Moving among the trees, and clinging
                              in the air she severed,
    Fanning the grass she walked on then, endures:

    Grey olive leaves beneath a rain-cold sky.



The Rest


    O helpless few in my country,
    O remnant enslaved!

    Artists broken against her,
    A-stray, lost in the villages,
    Mistrusted, spoken-against,

    Lovers of beauty, starved,
    Thwarted with systems,
    Helpless against the control;

    You who can not wear yourselves out
    By persisting to successes,
    You who can only speak,
    Who can not steel yourselves into reiteration;

    You of the finer sense,
    Broken against false knowledge,
    You who can know at first hand,
    Hated, shut in, mistrusted:

    Take thought:
    I have weathered the storm,
    I have beaten out my exile.



Les Millwin


    The little Millwins attend the Russian Ballet.
    The mauve and greenish souls of the little Millwins
    Were seen lying along the upper seats
    Like so many unused boas.

    The turbulent and undisciplined host of art students--
    The rigorous deputation from “Slade”--
    Was before them.
    With arms exalted, with fore-arms
    Crossed in great futuristic X’s, the art students
    Exulted, they beheld the splendours of _Cleopatra_.

    And the little Millwins beheld these things;
    With their large and anæmic eyes they looked out upon this configuration.

    Let us therefore mention the fact,
    For it seems to us worthy of record.



Further Instructions


    Come, my songs, let us express our baser passions,
    Let us express our envy of the man with a steady job
                      and no worry about the future.
    You are very idle, my songs.
    I fear you will come to a bad end.
    You stand about in the streets,
    You loiter at the corners and bus-stops
    You do next to nothing at all.

    You do not even express our inner nobilities,
    You will come to a very bad end.

    And I?
    I have gone half cracked,
    I have talked to you so much that
                      I almost see you about me,
    Insolent little beasts, shameless, devoid of clothing!

    But you, newest song of the lot,
    You are not old enough to have done much mischief,
    I will get you a green coat out of China
    With dragons worked upon it,
    I will get you the scarlet silk trousers
    From the statue of the infant Christ at Santa Maria Novella,
    Lest they say we are lacking in taste,
    Or that there is no caste in this family.



A Song of the Degrees


I

    Rest me with Chinese colours,
    For I think the glass is evil.


II

    The wind moves above the wheat--
    With a silver crashing,
    A thin war of metal.

    I have known the golden disc,
    I have seen it melting above me.
    I have known the stone-bright place,
            The hall of clear colours.


III

    O glass subtly evil, O confusion of colours!
    O light bound and bent in, O soul of the captive,
    Why am I warned? Why am I sent away?
    Why is your glitter full of curious mistrust?
    O glass subtle and cunning, O powdery gold!
    O filaments of amber, two-faced iridescence!



Ite


    Go, my songs, seek your praise from the young and from the intolerant,
    Move among the lovers of perfection alone.
    Seek ever to stand in the hard Sophoclean light
    And take your wounds from it gladly.



Dum Capitolium Scandet


    How many will come after me
        singing as well as I sing, none better;
    Telling the heart of their truth
        as I have taught them to tell it;
    Fruit of my seed,
        O my unnameable children.

    Know then that I loved you from afore-time,
    Clear speakers, naked in the sun, untrammelled.



To καλὀν


    Even in my dreams you have denied yourself to me
    And sent me only your handmaids.



The Study in Aesthetics


    The very small children in patched clothing,
    Being smitten with an unusual wisdom,
    Stopped in their play as she passed them
    And cried up from their cobbles:
          _Guarda! Ahi, guarda! ch’ è be’a!_[A]

    But three years after this
    I heard the young Dante, whose last name I do not know--
    For there are, in Sirmione, twenty-eight young
    Dantes and thirty-four Catulli;

    And there had been a great catch of sardines,
    And his elders
    Were packing them in the great wooden boxes
    For the market in Brescia, and he
    Leapt about, snatching at the bright fish
    And getting in both of their ways;
    And in vain they commanded him to _sta fermo!_
    And when they would not let him arrange
    The fish in the boxes
    He stroked those which were already arranged,
    Murmuring for his own satisfaction
    This identical phrase:
          _Ch’ è be’a._

    And at this I was mildly abashed.

 [A] _Bella._



The Bellaires

    RIGHT
    _Aus meinen grossen Schmerzen_
    _Mach’ ich die kleinen Lieder._


    The good Bellaires
    Do not understand the conduct of this world’s affairs.
    In fact they understood them so badly
    That they have had to cross the Channel.

    Nine lawyers, four counsels, five judges and three proctors of the King,
    Together with the respective wives, husbands, sisters
         and heterogeneous connections of the good Bellaires,
    Met to discuss their affairs;
    But the good Bellaires have so little understood their affairs
    That now there is no one at all
    Who can understand any affair of theirs. Yet
    Fourteen hunters still eat in the stables of
    The good Squire Bellaire;
    But these may not suffer attainder,
    For they may not belong to the good Squire Bellaire
    But to his wife.
    On the contrary, if they do not belong to his wife,
    He will plead
    A “freedom from attainder”
    For twelve horses and also for twelve boarhounds
    From Charles the Fourth;
    And a further freedom for the remainder
    Of horses, from Henry the Fourth.
    But the judges,
    Being free of mediæval scholarship,
    Will pay no attention to this,
    And there will be only the more confusion,
    Replevin, estoppel, espavin and what not.

    Nine lawyers, four counsels, etc.,
    Met to discuss their affairs,
    But the sole result was bills
    From lawyers to whom no one was indebted,
    And even the lawyers
    Were uncertain who was supposed to be indebted to them.

    Wherefore the good Squire Bellaire
    Resides now at Agde and Biaucaire.
    To Carcassonne, Pui, and Alais
    He fareth from day to day,
    Or takes the sea air
    Between Marseilles
    And Beziers.

    And for all this I have considerable regret,
    For the good Bellaires
    Are very charming people.



Salvationists


I

    Come, my songs, let us speak of perfection--
    We shall get ourselves rather disliked.


II

    Ah yes, my songs, let us resurrect
    The very excellent term _Rusticus_.
    Let us apply it in all its opprobrium
    To those to whom it applies.
    And you may decline to make them immortal.
    For we shall consider them and their state
    In delicate
    Opulent silence.


III

    Come, my songs,
    Let us take arms against this sea of stupidities--
    Beginning with Mumpodorus;
    And against this sea of vulgarities--
    Beginning with Nimmim;
    And against this sea of imbeciles--
    All the Bulmenian literati.



Arides


    The bashful Arides
    Has married an ugly wife,
    He was bored with his manner of life,
    Indifferent and discouraged he thought he might as
    Well do this as anything else.

    Saying within his heart, “I am no use to myself,
    Let her, if she wants me, take me.”
    He went to his doom.



The Bath Tub


    As a bathtub lined with white porcelain,
    When the hot water gives out or goes tepid,
    So is the slow cooling of our chivalrous passion,
    O my much praised but-not-altogether-satisfactory lady.



Amitiés

    RIGHT
    _Old friends the most._
                W. B. Y.


I

_To one, on returning certain years after._

    You wore the same quite correct clothing,
    You took no pleasure at all in my triumphs,
    You had the same old air of condescension
    Mingled with a curious fear
          That I, myself, might have enjoyed them.

    _Te voilà, mon Bourrienne_, you also shall be immortal.


II

_To another._

    And we say good-bye to you also,
    For you seem never to have discovered
    That your relationship is wholly parasitic;
    Yet to our feasts you bring neither
    Wit, nor good spirits, nor the pleasing attitudes
          Of discipleship.


III

    But you, _bos amic_, we keep on,
    For to you we owe a real debt:
    In spite of your obvious flaws,
    You once discovered a moderate chop-house.


IV

    _Iste fuit vir incultus,_
    _Deo laus, quod est sepultus,_
    _Vermes habent eius vultum_
                        _A-a-a-a--A-men._
    _Ego autem jovialis_
    _Gaudero contubernalis_
    _Cum jocunda femina._



To Dives


    Who am I to condemn you, O Dives,
    I who am as much embittered
    With poverty
    As you are with useless riches?



Ladies


_Agathas_

    Four and forty lovers had Agathas in the old days,
    All of whom she refused;
    And now she turns to me seeking love,
    And her hair also is turning.


_Young Lady_

    I have fed your lar with poppies,
    I have adored you for three full years;
    And now you grumble because your dress does not fit
    And because I happen to say so.


_Lesbia Illa_

    Memnon, Memnon, that lady
    Who used to walk about amongst us
    With such gracious uncertainty,
    Is now wedded
    To a British householder.
    _Lugete, Veneres! Lugete, Cupidinesque!_


_Passing_

    Flawless as Aphrodite,
    Thoroughly beautiful,
    Brainless,
    The faint odour of your patchouli,
    Faint, almost, as the lines of cruelty about your chin,
    Assails me, and concerns me almost as little.



Coda


    O my songs,
    Why do you look so eagerly and so curiously into people’s faces,
    Will you find your lost dead among them?



Ancora


    Good God! They say you are _risqué_,
    O canzonetti!
    We who went out into the four A.M. of the world
    Composing our albas,
    We who shook off our dew with the rabbits,
    We who have seen even Artemis a-binding her sandals,
    Have we ever heard the like?
    O mountains of Hellas!!

    Gather about me, O Muses!
    When we sat upon the granite brink in Helicon
    Clothed in the tattered sunlight,
    O Muses with delicate shins,
    O Muses with delectable knee-joints,
    When we splashed and were splashed with
    The lucid Castalian spray,
    Had we ever such an epithet cast upon us!!



A TRANSLATION

FROM THE PROVENÇAL OF EN BERTRANS DE BORN.

=“Dompna pois de me no’us cal”=


    Lady, since you care nothing for me,
    And since you have shut me away from you
    Causelessly,
    I know not where to go seeking,
    For certainly
    I will never again gather
    Joy so rich, and if I find not ever
    A lady with look so speaking
    To my desire, worth yours whom I have lost,
    I’ll have no other love at any cost.

    And since I could not find a peer to you,
    Neither one so fair, nor of such heart,
    So eager and alert,
    Nor with such art
    In attire, nor so gay
    Nor with gift so bountiful and so true,
    I will go out a-searching,
    Culling from each a fair trait
    To make me a borrowed lady
    Till I again find you ready.

    Bels Cembelins, I take of you your colour,
    For it’s your own, and your glance
    Where love is,
    A proud thing I do here,
    For, as to colour and eyes
    I shall have missed nothing at all,
    Having yours.
    I ask of Midons Aelis (of Montfort)
    Her straight speech free-running,
    That my phantom lack not in cunning.

    At Chalais of the Viscountess, I would
    That she give me outright
    Her two hands and her throat,
    So take I my road
    To Rochechouart,
    Swift-foot to my Lady Anhes,
    Seeing that Tristan’s lady Iseutz had never
    Such grace of locks, I do ye to wit,
    Though she’d the far fame for it.

    Of Audiart at Malemort,
    Though she with a full heart
    Wish me ill,
    I’d have her form that’s laced
    So cunningly,
    Without blemish, for her love
    Breaks not nor turns aside.
    I of Miels-de-ben demand
    Her straight fresh body,
    She is so supple and young,
    Her robes can but do her wrong.

    Her white teeth, of the Lady Faidita
    I ask, and the fine courtesy
    She hath to welcome one,
    And such replies she lavishes
    Within her nest;
    Of Bels Mirals, the rest,
    Tall stature and gaiety,
    To make these avail
    She knoweth well, betide
    No change nor turning aside.

    Ah, Bels Senher, Maent, at last
    I ask naught from you,
    Save that I have such hunger for
    This phantom
    As I’ve for you, such flame-lap,
    And yet I’d rather
    Ask of you than hold another,
    Mayhap, right close and kissed.
    Ah, lady, why have you cast
    Me out, knowing you hold me so fast!



The Coming of War: Actaeon


    An image of Lethe,
            and the fields
    Full of faint light
            but golden,
    Gray cliffs,
            and beneath them
    A sea
    Harsher than granite,
            unstill, never ceasing;
    High forms
            with the movement of gods,
    Perilous aspect;
            And one said:
    “This is Actaeon.”
            Actaeon of golden greaves!

    Over fair meadows,
    Over the cool face of that field,
    Unstill, ever moving,
    Hosts of an ancient people,
    The silent cortège.



After Ch’u Yuan


    I will get me to the wood
    Where the gods walk garlanded in wistaria,
    By the silver blue flood
      move others with ivory cars.
    There come forth many maidens
      to gather grapes for the leopards, my friend,
    For there are leopards drawing the cars.

    I will walk in the glade,
    I will come out of the new thicket
      and accost the procession of maidens.



Liu Ch’e


    The rustling of the silk is discontinued,
    Dust drifts over the court-yard,
    There is no sound of foot-fall, and the leaves
    Scurry into heaps and lie still,
    And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:

    A wet leaf that clings to the threshold.



Fan-piece, for her Imperial Lord


    O fan of white silk,
          clear as frost on the grass-blade,
    You also are laid aside.



Ts’ai Chi’h


    The petals fall in the fountain,
            the orange-coloured rose-leaves,
    Their ochre clings to the stone.



In a Station of the Metro


    The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
    Petals on a wet, black bough.



Alba


    As cool as the pale wet leaves
                        of lily-of-the-valley
    She lay beside me in the dawn.



Heather


    The black panther treads at my side,
    And above my fingers
    There float the petal-like flames.

    The milk-white girls
    Unbend from the holly-trees,
    And their snow-white leopard
    Watches to follow our trace.



The Faun


    Ha! sir, I have seen you sniffing and snoozling about
                              among my flowers.
    And what, pray, do you know about horticulture,
                              you capriped?

    “Come, Auster, come, Apeliota,
    And see the faun in our garden.
    But if you move or speak
    This thing will run at you
    And scare itself to spasms.”



Pervigilium

    The gilded phaloi of the crocuses
            are thrusting at the spring air.
    Here is there naught of dead gods
    But a procession of festival,
    A procession, O Giulio Romano,
    Fit for your spirit to dwell in.
    Dione, your nights are upon us.

    The dew is upon the leaf.
    The night about us is restless.



The Encounter


    All the while they were talking the new morality
    Her eyes explored me.
    And when I arose to go
    Her fingers were like the tissue
    Of a Japanese paper napkin.



Tempora


    Io! Io! Tamuz!
    The Dryad stands in my court-yard
    With plaintive, querulous crying.
    (Tamuz. Io! Tamuz!)
    Oh, no, she is not crying: “Tamuz.”
    She says, “May my poems be printed this week?
    The god Pan is afraid to ask you,
    May my poems be printed this week?”



Black Slippers: Bellotti


        At the table beyond us
        With her little suede slippers off,
        With her white-stocking’d feet
        Carefully kept from the floor by a napkin,
        She converses:
                      _Connaissez-vous Ostende?_
    The gurgling Italian lady on the other side of the restaurant
    Replies with a certain hauteur,
    But I await with patience
    To see how Celestine will re-enter her slippers.
    She re-enters them with a groan.



Society


    The family position was waning,
    And on this account the little Aurelia,
    Who had laughed on eighteen summers,
    Now bears the palsied contact of Phidippus.



Image from D’Orleans


    Young men riding in the street
    In the bright new season
    Spur without reason,
    Causing their steeds to leap.

    And at the pace they keep
    Their horses’ armoured feet
    Strike sparks from the cobbled street
    In the bright new season.



Papyrus


    Spring ...
    Too long ...
    Gongula ...



“Ione, Dead the Long Year”


    Empty are the ways,
    Empty are the ways of this land
    And the flowers
                Bend over with heavy heads.
    They bend in vain.
    Empty are the ways of this land
                Where Ione
    Walked once, and now does not walk

    But seems like a person just gone.



Shop Girl


    For a moment she rested against me
    Like a swallow half blown to the wall,
    And they talk of Swinburne’s women,
    And the shepherdess meeting with Guido,
    And the harlots of Baudelaire.



To Formianus’ Young Lady Friend

AFTER VALERIUS CATULLUS


    All Hail! young lady with a nose
                  by no means too small,
    With a foot unbeautiful,
                  and with eyes that are not black,
    With fingers that are not long, and with a mouth undry,
    And with a tongue by no means too elegant,
    You are the friend of Formianus, the vendor of cosmetics,
    And they call you beautiful in the province,
    And you are even compared to Lesbia.

    O most unfortunate age!



Tame Cat


    “It rests me to be among beautiful women.
    Why should one always lie about such matters?

    I repeat:
    It rests me to converse with beautiful women
    Even though we talk nothing but nonsense,

    The purring of the invisible antennæ
    Is both stimulating and delightful.”



L’Art, 1910


    Green arsenic smeared on an egg-white cloth,
    Crushed strawberries! Come, let us feast our eyes.



Simulacra


    Why does the horse-faced lady of just the unmentionable age
    Walk down Longacre reciting Swinburne to herself, inaudibly?
    Why does the small child in the soiled-white imitation fur coat
    Crawl in the very black gutter beneath the grape stand?
    Why does the really handsome young woman approach me in Sackville Street
    Undeterred by the manifest age of my trappings?



Women Before a Shop


    The gew-gaws of false amber and false turquoise attract them.
    “Like to like nature”: these agglutinous yellows!



Epilogue


    O chansons foregoing
    You were a seven days’ wonder,
    When you came out in the magazines
    You created considerable stir in Chicago,

    And now you are stale and worn out,
    You’re a very depleted fashion,
    A hoop-skirt, a calash,
    An homely, transient antiquity.

    Only emotion remains.

    Your emotions?
                    Are those of a maître-de-café.



The Social Order


I

    This government official,
    Whose wife is several years his senior,
    Has such a caressing air
    When he shakes hands with young ladies.


II

(Pompes Funèbres)

    This old lady,
    Who was “so old that she was an atheist,”
    Is now surrounded
    By six candles and a crucifix,
    While the second wife of a nephew
    Makes hay with the things in her house.
    Her two cats
    Go before her into Avernus;
    A sort of chloroformed suttee,
    And it is to be hoped that their spirits will walk
    With their tails up,
    And with a plaintive, gentle mewing,
    For it is certain that she has left on this earth
    No sound
    Save a squabble of female connections.



The Tea Shop


    The girl in the tea shop
                      is not so beautiful as she was,
    The August has worn against her.
    She does not get up the stairs so eagerly,
    Yes, she also will turn middle-aged,
    And the glow of youth that she spread about us
                      as she brought us our muffins
    Will be spread about us no longer.
                      She also will turn middle-aged.



Epitaphs


FU I

    Fu I loved the high cloud and the hill,
    Alas, he died of alcohol.


LI PO

    And Li Po also died drunk.
    He tried to embrace a moon
    In the Yellow River.



Our Contemporaries


    When the Taihaitian princess
    Heard that he had decided,
    She rushed out into the sunlight and swarmed up a cocoanut palm tree,

    But he returned to this island
    And wrote ninety Petrarchan sonnets.

     NOTE.--Il s’agit d’un jeune poète qui a suivi le culte de Gauguin
     jusqu’à Tahiti même (et qui vit encore). Étant fort bel homme,
     quand la princesse bistre entendit qu’il voulait lui accorder ses
     faveurs elle montra son allegresse de la façon dont nous venons de
     parler. Malheureusement ses poèmes ne sont remplis que de ses
     propres subjectivités, style Victorien de la “Georgian Anthology.”



Ancient Wisdom, Rather Cosmic


    So-shu dreamed,
    And having dreamed that he was a bird, a bee, and a butterfly,
    He was uncertain why he should try to feel like anything else,

    Hence his contentment.



The Three Poets


    Candidia has taken a new lover
    And three poets are gone into mourning.
    The first has written a long elegy to “Chloris,”
    To “Chloris chaste and cold,” his “only Chloris.”
    The second has written a sonnet
                    upon the mutability of woman,
    And the third writes an epigram to Candidia.



The Gipsy

     “_Est-ce que vous avez vu des autres--des camarades--avec des
     singes ou des ours?_”

                                              A Stray Gipsy--A.D. 1912.



    That was the top of the walk, when he said:
    “Have you seen any others, any of our lot,
    With apes or bears?”
                 --A brown upstanding fellow
    Not like the half-castes,
                  up on the wet road near Clermont.
    The wind came, and the rain,
    And mist clotted about the trees in the valley,
    And I’d the long ways behind me,
                  gray Arles and Biaucaire,
    And he said, “Have you seen any of our lot?”

    I’d seen a lot of his lot ...
                  ever since Rhodez,
    Coming down from the fair
                  of St. John,
    With caravans, but never an ape or a bear.



The Game of Chess

DOGMATIC STATEMENT CONCERNING THE GAME OF CHESS: THEME FOR A SERIES OF
PICTURES


    Red knights, brown bishops, bright queens,
    striking the board, falling in strong “L”s of colour,
    Reaching and striking in angles,
                  holding lines in one colour.
    This board is alive with light;
                  these pieces are living in form,
    Their moves break and reform the pattern:
                  Luminous green from the rooks,
    Clashing with “X”s of queens,
                  looped with the knight-leaps.

    “Y” pawns, cleaving, embanking!
    Whirl! Centripetal! Mate! King down in the vortex,
    Clash, leaping of bands, straight strips of hard colour,
    Blocked lights working in. Escapes. Renewal of contest.



Provincia Deserta


    At Rochecoart,
    Where the hills part
                  in three ways,
    And three valleys, full of winding roads,
    Fork out to south and north,
    There is a place of trees ... gray with lichen.
    I have walked there
                  thinking of old days.
    At Chalais
                  is a pleached arbour;
    Old pensioners and old protected women
    Have the right there--
                  it is charity.
    I have crept over old rafters,
                  peering down
    Over the Dronne,
                  over a stream full of lilies.
    Eastward the road lies,
                  Aubeterre is eastward,
    With a garrulous old man at the inn.

    I know the roads in that place:
    Mareuil to the north-east,
                  La Tour,
    There are three keeps near Mareuil,
    And an old woman,
                  glad to hear Arnaut,
    Glad to lend one dry clothing.

    I have walked
                  into Perigord,
    I have seen the torch-flames, high-leaping,
    Painting the front of that church,
    And, under the dark, whirling laughter.
    I have looked back over the stream
                  and seen the high building,
    Seen the long minarets, the white shafts.
    I have gone in Ribeyrac
                  and in Sarlat,
    I have climbed rickety stairs, heard talk of Croy,
    Walked over En Bertran’s old layout,
    Have seen Narbonne, and Cahors and Chalus,
    Have seen Excideuil, carefully fashioned.

    I have said:
                  “Here such a one walked.
    “Here Cœur-de-Lion was slain.
                  “Here was good singing.
    “Here one man hastened his step.
                  “Here one lay panting.”

    I have looked south from Hautefort,
                  thinking of Montaignac, southward.
    I have lain in Rocafixada,
                  level with sunset,
    Have seen the copper come down
                  tinging the mountains,
    I have seen the fields, pale, clear as an emerald,
    Sharp peaks, high spurs, distant castles.
    I have said: “The old roads have lain here.
    “Men have gone by such and such valleys
    “Where the great halls are closer together.”
    I have seen Foix on its rock, seen Toulouse, and Arles greatly altered,
    I have seen the ruined “Dorata.”
                  I have said:
    “Riquier! Guido.”
                  I have thought of the second Troy,
    Some little prized place in Auvergnat:
    Two men tossing a coin, one keeping a castle,
    One set on the highway to sing.
                  He sang a woman.
    Auvergne rose to the song;
                  The Dauphin backed him.
    “The castle to Austors!”
                  “Pieire kept the singing--
    “A fair man and a pleasant.”
                  He won the lady,
    Stole her away for himself, kept her against armed force:
    So ends that story.
    That age is gone;
    Pieire de Maensac is gone.
    I have walked over these roads;
    I have thought of them living.



CATHAY

             FOR THE MOST PART FROM THE CHINESE OF RIHAKU,
                   FROM THE NOTES OF THE LATE ERNEST
                    FENOLLOSA, AND THE DECIPHERINGS
                        OF THE PROFESSORS MORI
                               AND ARIGA



Song of the Bowmen of Shu


    Here we are, picking the first fern-shoots
    And saying: When shall we get back to our country?
    Here we are because we have the Ken-nin for our foemen,
    We have no comfort because of these Mongols.
    We grub the soft fern-shoots,
    When anyone says “Return,” the others are full of sorrow.
    Sorrowful minds, sorrow is strong, we are hungry and thirsty.
    Our defence is not yet made sure, no one can let his friend return.
    We grub the old fern-stalks.
    We say: Will we be let to go back in October?
    There is no ease in royal affairs, we have no comfort.
    Our sorrow is bitter, but we would not return to our country.
    What flower has come into blossom?
    Whose chariot? The General’s.
    Horses, his horses even, are tired. They were strong.
    We have no rest, three battles a month.
    By heaven, his horses are tired.
    The generals are on them, the soldiers are by them
    The horses are well trained, the generals have ivory arrows
         and quivers ornamented with fish-skin.
    The enemy is swift, we must be careful.
    When we set out, the willows were drooping with spring,
    We come back in the snow,
    We go slowly, we are hungry and thirsty,
    Our mind is full of sorrow, who will know of our grief?

                _By Bunno._
                _Very early._



The Beautiful Toilet


    Blue, blue is the grass about the river
    And the willows have overfilled the close garden.
    And within, the mistress, in the midmost of her youth,
    White, white of face, hesitates, passing the door.
    Slender, she puts forth a slender hand,

    And she was a courtezan in the old days,
    And she has married a sot,
    Who now goes drunkenly out
    And leaves her too much alone.

                _By Mei Sheng._
                _B.C. 140._



The River Song


    This boat is of shato-wood, and its gunwales are cut magnolia,
    Musicians with jewelled flutes and with pipes of gold
    Fill full the sides in rows, and our wine
    Is rich for a thousand cups.
    We carry singing girls, drift with the drifting water,
    Yet Sennin needs
    A yellow stork for a charger, and all our seamen
    Would follow the white gulls or ride them.
    Kutsu’s prose song
    Hangs with the sun and moon.

    King So’s terraced palace
                          is now but a barren hill,
    But I draw pen on this barge
    Causing the five peaks to tremble,
    And I have joy in these words
                          like the joy of blue islands.
    (If glory could last forever
    Then the waters of Han would flow northward.)
    And I have moped in the Emperor’s garden, awaiting an order-to-write!
    I looked at the dragon-pond, with its willow-coloured water
    Just reflecting the sky’s tinge,
    And heard the five-score nightingales aimlessly singing.

    The eastern wind brings the green colour into the
         island grasses at Yei-shu,
    The purple house and the crimson are full of Spring softness.
    South of the pond the willow-tips are half-blue and bluer,
    Their cords tangle in mist, against the brocade-like palace.
    Vine-strings a hundred feet long hang down from carved railings,
    And high over the willows, the fine birds sing to each other, and listen,
    Crying--“Kwan, Kuan,” for the early wind, and the feel of it.
    The wind bundles itself into a bluish cloud and wanders off.
    Over a thousand gates, over a thousand doors are
         the sounds of spring singing,
    And the Emperor is at Ko.
    Five clouds hang aloft, bright on the purple sky,
    The imperial guards come forth from the golden
         house with their armour a-gleaming.
    The Emperor in his jewelled car goes out to inspect his flowers,
    He goes out to Hori, to look at the wing-flapping storks,
    He returns by way of Sei rock, to hear the new nightingales,
    For the gardens at Jo-run are full of new nightingales,
    Their sound is mixed in this flute,
    Their voice is in the twelve pipes here.

                _By Rihaku._
                _8th century A.D._



The River-Merchant’s Wife: a Letter


    While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
    I played about the front gate, pulling flowers
    You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse,
    You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
    And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
    Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

    At fourteen I married My Lord you.
    I never laughed, being bashful.
    Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
    Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

    At fifteen I stopped scowling,
    I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
    Forever and forever, and forever.
    Why should I climb the look out?

    At sixteen you departed,
    You went into far Ku-to-Yen, by the river of swirling eddies,
    And you have been gone five months.
    The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
    You dragged your feet when you went out.
    By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
    Too deep to clear them away!
    The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
    The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
    Over the grass in the West garden,
    They hurt me.
    I grow older,
    If you are coming down through the narrows of the river Kiang,
    Please let me know beforehand,
    And I will come out to meet you,
                    As far as Cho-fu-Sa.

                _By Rihaku._



The Jewel Stairs’ Grievance


    The jewelled steps are already quite white with dew,
    It is so late that the dew soaks my gauze stockings,
    And I let down the crystal curtain
    And watch the moon through the clear autumn.

                _By Rihaku._

     NOTE.--Jewel stairs, therefore a palace. Grievance, therefore there
     is something to complain of. Gauze stockings, therefore a court
     lady, not a servant who complains. Clear autumn, therefore he has
     no excuse on account of weather. Also she has come early, for the
     dew has not merely whitened the stairs, but has soaked her
     stockings. The poem is especially prized because she utters no
     direct reproach.



Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin


    March has come to the bridge head,
    Peach boughs and apricot boughs hang over a thousand gates,
    At morning there are flowers to cut the heart,
    And evening drives them on the eastward-flowing waters.
    Petals are on the gone waters and on the going,
              And on the back-swirling eddies,
    But to-day’s men are not the men of the old days,
    Though they hang in the same way over the bridge-rail.

    The sea’s colour moves at the dawn
    And the princes still stand in rows, about the throne,
    And the moon falls over the portals of Sei-go-yo,
    And clings to the walls and the gate-top.
    With head gear glittering against the cloud and sun,
    The lords go forth from the court, and into far borders.
    They ride upon dragon-like horses,
    Upon horses with head-trappings of yellow metal,
    And the streets make way for their passage.
              Haughty their passing,
    Haughty their steps as they go into great banquets,
    To high halls and curious food,
    To the perfumed air and girls dancing,
    To clear flutes and clear singing;
    To the dance of the seventy couples;
    To the mad chase through the gardens.
    Night and day are given over to pleasure
    And they think it will last a thousand autumns,
              Unwearying autumns.
    For them the yellow dogs howl portents in vain,
    And what are they compared to the lady
        Riokushu,
              That was cause of hate!
    Who among them is a man like Han-rei
              Who departed alone with his mistress,
    With her hair unbound, and he his own skiffsman!

                _By Rihaku._



Lament of the Frontier Guard


    By the North Gate, the wind blows full of sand,
    Lonely from the beginning of time until now!
    Trees fall, the grass goes yellow with autumn.
    I climb the towers and towers
          to watch out the barbarous land:
    Desolate castle, the sky, the wide desert.
    There is no wall left to this village.
    Bones white with a thousand frosts,
    High heaps, covered with trees and grass;
    Who brought this to pass?
    Who has brought the flaming imperial anger?
    Who has brought the army with drums and with kettle-drums?
    Barbarous kings.
    A gracious spring, turned to blood-ravenous autumn,
    A turmoil of wars-men, spread over the middle kingdom,
    Three hundred and sixty thousand,
    And sorrow, sorrow like rain.
    Sorrow to go, and sorrow, sorrow returning,
    Desolate, desolate fields,
    And no children of warfare upon them,
          No longer the men for offence and defence.
    Ah, how shall you know the dreary sorrow at the
          North Gate,
    With Rihoku’s name forgotten,
    And we guardsmen fed to the tigers.

                _By Rihaku._



Exile’s Letter


    To So-Kin of Rakuyo, ancient friend, Chancellor of Gen.
    Now I remember that you built me a special tavern
    By the south side of the bridge at Ten-Shin.
    With yellow gold and white jewels, we paid for songs and laughter
    And we were drunk for month on month, forgetting the kings and princes.
    Intelligent men came drifting in from the sea and from the west border,
    And with them, and with you especially
    There was nothing at cross purpose,
    And they made nothing of sea-crossing or of mountain crossing,
    If only they could be of that fellowship,
    And we all spoke out our hearts and minds, and without regret.

    And then I was sent off to South Wei,
          smothered in laurel groves,
    And you to the north of Raku-hoku,
    Till we had nothing but thoughts and memories in common.
    And then, when separation had come to its worst,
    We met, and travelled into Sen-Go,
    Through all the thirty-six folds of the turning and twisting waters,
    Into a valley of the thousand bright flowers,
    That was the first valley;
    And into ten thousand valleys full of voices and pine-winds.
    And with silver harness and reins of gold,
    Out come the East of Kan foreman and his company.
    And there came also the “True man” of Shi-yo to meet me,
    Playing on a jewelled mouth-organ.
    In the storied houses of San-Ko they gave us more Sennin music,
    Many instruments, like the sound of young phoenix broods.
    The foreman of Kan Chu, drunk, danced
                because his long sleeves wouldn’t
                  keep still
    With that music playing.
    And I, wrapped in brocade, went to sleep with my head on his lap,
    And my spirit so high it was all over the heavens,
    And before the end of the day we were scattered like stars, or rain.
    I had to be off to So, far away over the waters,
    You back to your river-bridge.

    And your father, who was brave as a leopard,
    Was governor in Hei Shu, and put down the barbarian rabble.
    And one May he had you send for me,
          despite the long distance.
    And what with broken wheels and so on, I won’t say it wasn’t hard going,
    Over roads twisted like sheep’s guts.
    And I was still going, late in the year,
          in the cutting wind from the North,
    And thinking how little you cared for the cost,
          and you caring enough to pay it.
    And what a reception:
    Red jade cups, food well set on a blue jewelled table,
    And I was drunk, and had no thought of returning.
    And you would walk out with me to the western corner of the castle,
    To the dynastic temple, with water about it clear as blue jade,
    With boats floating, and the sound of mouth-organs and drums,
    With ripples like dragon-scales, going grass green on the water,
    Pleasure lasting, with courtezans, going and coming without hindrance,
    With the willow flakes falling like snow,
    And the vermilioned girls getting drunk about sunset,
    And the water a hundred feet deep reflecting green eyebrows
    --Eyebrows painted green are a fine sight in young moonlight,
    Gracefully painted--
    And the girls singing back at each other,
    Dancing in transparent brocade,
    And the wind lifting the song, and interrupting it,
    Tossing it up under the clouds.
          And all this comes to an end.
          And is not again to be met with.
    I went up to the court for examination,
    Tried Layu’s luck, offered the Choyo song,
    And got no promotion,
          and went back to the East Mountains
                white-headed.
    And once again, later, we met at the South bridge-head.
    And then the crowd broke up, you went north to
        San palace,
    And if you ask how I regret that parting:
          It is like the flowers falling at Spring’s end
                Confused, whirled in a tangle.
    What is the use of talking, and there is no end of talking,
    There is no end of things in the heart.
    I call in the boy,
    Have him sit on his knees here
              To seal this,
    And send it a thousand miles, thinking.

                _By Rihaku._



_From Rihaku_

FOUR POEMS OF DEPARTURE

    _Light rain is on the light dust
    The willows of the inn-yard
    Will be going greener and greener,
    But you, Sir, had better take wine ere your departure,
    For you will have no friends about you
    When you come to the gates of Go._



Separation on the River Kiang


    Ko-jin goes west from Ko-kaku-ro,
    The smoke-flowers are blurred over the river.
    His lone sail blots the far sky.
    And now I see only the river,
            The long Kiang, reaching heaven.



Taking Leave of a Friend


    Blue mountains to the north of the walls,
    White river winding about them;
    Here we must make separation
    And go out through a thousand miles of dead grass.
    Mind like a floating wide cloud.
    Sunset like the parting of old acquaintances
    Who bow over their clasped hands at a distance.
    Our horses neigh to each other
            as we are departing.



Leave-taking near Shoku

    RIGHT
    “_Sanso, King of Shoku, built roads._”


    They say the roads of Sanso are steep,
    Sheer as the mountains.
    The walls rise in a man’s face,
    Clouds grow out of the hill
            at his horse’s bridle.
    Sweet trees are on the paved way of the Shin,
    Their trunks burst through the paving,
    And freshets are bursting their ice
            in the midst of Shoku, a proud city.

    Men’s fates are already set,
    There is no need of asking diviners.



The City of Choan


    The phœnix are at play on their terrace.
    The phœnix are gone, the river flows on alone.
    Flowers and grass
    Cover over the dark path
            where lay the dynastic house of the Go.
    The bright cloths and bright caps of Shin
    Are now the base of old hills.

    The Three Mountains fall through the far heaven,
    The isle of White Heron
            splits the two streams apart.
    Now the high clouds cover the sun
    And I can not see Choan afar
    And I am sad.



South-Folk in Cold Country


    The Dai horse neighs against the bleak wind of Etsu,
    The birds of Etsu have no love for En, in the north,
    Emotion is born out of habit.
    Yesterday we went out of the Wild-Goose gate,
    To-day from the Dragon-Pen.[B]
    Surprised. Desert turmoil. Sea sun.
    Flying snow bewilders the barbarian heaven.
    Lice swarm like ants over our accoutrements.
    Mind and spirit drive on the feathery banners.
    Hard fight gets no reward.
    Loyalty is hard to explain.
    Who will be sorry for General Rishogu,
            the swift moving,
    Whose white head is lost for this province?

 [B] _I.e._, we have been warring from one end of the empire to the
 other, now east, now west, on each border.



Sennin Poem by Kakuhaku


    The red and green kingfishers
              flash between the orchids and clover,
    One bird casts its gleam on another.

    Green vines hang through the high forest,
    They weave a whole roof to the mountain,
    The lone man sits with shut speech,
    He purrs and pats the clear strings.

    He throws his heart up through the sky,
    He bites through the flower pistil
              and brings up a fine fountain.
    The red-pine-tree god looks on him and wonders.
    He rides through the purple smoke to visit the sennin,
    He takes “Floating Hill”[C] by the sleeve,
    He claps his hand on the back of the great water sennin.

    But you, you dam’d crowd of gnats,
    Can you even tell the age of a turtle?

 [C] Name of a sennin.



A Ballad of the Mulberry Road

    RIGHT
    (_Fenollosa MSS., very early._)


    The sun rises in south east corner of things
    To look on the tall house of the Shin
    For they have a daughter named Rafu,
            (pretty girl)
    She made the name for herself: “Gauze Veil,”
    For she feeds mulberries to silkworms,
        She gets them by the south wall of the
              town.

    With green strings she makes the warp of her basket,
    She makes the shoulder-straps of her basket
            from the boughs of Katsura,
    And she piles her hair up on the left side of her head-piece.

    Her earrings are made of pearl,
    Her underskirt is of green pattern-silk,
    Her overskirt is the same silk dyed in purple,
    And when men going by look on Rafu
            They set down their burdens,
    They stand and twirl their moustaches.



Old Idea of Choan by Rosoriu


I.

    The narrow streets cut into the wide highway at Choan,
    Dark oxen, white horses,
            drag on the seven coaches with outriders.
    The coaches are perfumed wood,
    The jewelled chair is held up at the crossway,
    Before the royal lodge
            a glitter of golden saddles, awaiting the princess,
    They eddy before the gate of the barons.
    The canopy embroidered with dragons
            drinks in and casts back the sun.

    Evening comes.
          The trappings are bordered with mist.
    The hundred cords of mist are spread through
          and double the trees,
    Night birds, and night women,
          spread out their sounds through the gardens.


II.

    Birds with flowery wing, hovering butterflies
            crowd over the thousand gates,
    Trees that glitter like jade,
            terraces tinged with silver,
    The seed of a myriad hues,
    A net-work of arbours and passages and covered ways,
    Double towers, winged roofs,
            border the net-work of ways:
    A place of felicitous meeting.
    Riu’s house stands out on the sky,
            with glitter of colour
    As Butei of Kan had made the high golden lotus
            to gather his dews,
    Before it another house which I do not know:
    How shall we know all the friends
            whom we meet on strange roadways?



To-Em-Mei’s “The Unmoving Cloud”

    “Wet springtime,” says To-em-mei,
          “Wet spring in the garden.”


I.

    The clouds have gathered, and gathered,
              and the rain falls and falls,
    The eight ply of the heavens
              are all folded into one darkness,
    And the wide, flat road stretches out.
    I stop in my room toward the East, quiet, quiet,
    I pat my new cask of wine.
    My friends are estranged, or far distant,
    I bow my head and stand still.


II.

    Rain, rain, and the clouds have gathered,
    The eight ply of the heavens are darkness,
    The flat land is turned into river.
              “Wine, wine, here is wine!”
    I drink by my eastern window.
    I think of talking and man,
    And no boat, no carriage, approaches.


III.

    The trees in my east-looking garden
              are bursting out with new twigs,
    They try to stir new affection,

    And men say the sun and moon keep on moving
              because they can’t find a soft seat.

    The birds flutter to rest in my tree,
              and I think I have heard them saying,
    “It is not that there are no other men
    But we like this fellow the best,
    But however we long to speak
    He can not know of our sorrow.”

                _T’ao Yuan Ming._
                _A.D. 365-427._


END OF CATHAY



Near Perigord

    RIGHT
    _A Perigord, pres del muralh_
    _Tan que i puosch ’om gitar ab malh._


    You’d have men’s hearts up from the dust
    And tell their secrets, Messire Cino,
    Right enough? Then read between the lines
                of Uc St. Cire,
    Solve me the riddle, for you know the tale.

    Bertrans, En Bertrans, left a fine canzone:
    “Maent, I love you, you have turned me out.
    The voice at Montfort, Lady Agnes’ hair,
    Bel Miral’s stature, the vicountess’ throat,
    Set all together, are not worthy of you ...”
    And all the while you sing out that canzone,
    Think you that Maent lived at Montaignac,
    One at Chalais, another at Malemort
    Hard over Brive--for every lady a castle,
    Each place strong.

                Oh, _is_ it easy enough?
    Tairiran held hall in Montaignac,
    His brother-in-law was all there was of power
    In Perigord, and this good union
    Gobbled all the land, and held it later
                for some hundreds years.
    And our En Bertrans was in Altafort,
    Hub of the wheel, the stirrer-up of strife,
    As caught by Dante in the last wallow of hell--
    The headless trunk “that made its head a lamp.”
    For separation wrought out separation,
    And he who set the strife between brother and brother
    And had his way with the old English king,
    Viced in such torture for the “counterpass.”

      How would you live, with neighbours set about you--
    Poictiers and Brive, untaken Rochechouart,
    Spread like the finger-tips of one frail hand;
    And you on that great mountain of a palm--
    Not a neat ledge, not Foix between its streams,
    But one huge back half-covered up with pine,
    Worked for and snatched from the string-purse of Born--
    The four round towers, four brothers--mostly fools:
    What could he do but play the desperate chess,
    And stir old grudges?
                “Pawn your castles, lords!
    Let the Jews pay.”
                And the great scene--
    (That, maybe, never happened!)
                Beaten at last,
    Before the hard old king:
                “Your son, ah, since he died
    My wit and worth are cobwebs brushed aside
    In the full flare of grief. Do what you will.”

      Take the whole man, and ravel out the story.
    He loved this lady in castle Montaignac?
    The castle flanked him--he had need of it.
    You read to-day, how long the overlords of Perigord,
    The Talleyrands, have held the place, it was no transient fiction.
    And Maent failed him? Or saw through the scheme?

      And all his net-like thought of new alliance?
    Chalais is high, a-level with the poplars.
    Its lowest stones just meet the valley tips
    Where the low Dronne is filled with water-lilies.
    And Rochecouart can match it, stronger yet,
    The very spur’s end, built on sheerest cliff,
    And Malemort keeps its close hold on Brive,
    While Born his own close purse, his rabbit warren,
    His subterranean chamber with a dozen doors,
    A-bristle with antennae to feel roads,
    To sniff the traffic into Perigord.
    And that hard phalanx, that unbroken line,
    The ten good miles from thence to Maent’s castle,
    All of his flank--how could he do without her?
    And all the road to Cahors, to Toulouse?
    What would he do without her?

                “Papiol,
    Go forthright singing--Anhes, Cembelins.
    There is a throat; ah, there are two white hands;
    There is a trellis full of early roses,
    And all my heart is bound about with love.
    Where am I come with compound flatteries--
    What doors are open to fine compliment?”
    And every one half jealous of Maent?
    He wrote the catch to pit their jealousies
    Against her, give her pride in them?

    Take his own speech, make what you will of it--
    And still the knot, the first knot, of Maent?

      Is it a love poem? Did he sing of war?
    Is it an intrigue to run subtly out,
    Born of a jongleur’s tongue, freely to pass
    Up and about and in and out the land,
    Mark him a craftsman and a strategist?
    (St. Leider had done as much at Polhonac,
    Singing a different stave, as closely hidden.)
    Oh, there is precedent, legal tradition,
    To sing one thing when your song means another,
    “_Et albirar ab lor bordon_--”
    Foix’ count knew that. What is Sir Bertrans’ singing?

    Maent, Maent, and yet again Maent,
    Or war and broken heaumes and politics?


II

      End fact. Try fiction, Let us say we see
    En Bertrans, a tower-room at Hautefort,
    Sunset, the ribbon-like road lies, in red cross-light,
    South toward Montaignac, and he bends at a table
    Scribbling, swearing between his teeth, by his left hand
    Lie little strips of parchment covered over,
    Scratched and erased with _al_ and _ochaisos_.
    Testing his list of rhymes, a lean man? Bilious?
    With a red straggling beard?
    And the green cat’s-eye lifts toward Montaignac.

      Or take his “magnet” singer setting out,
    Dodging his way past Aubeterre, singing at Chalais

                In the vaulted hall,
    Or, by a lichened tree at Rochecouart
    Aimlessly watching a hawk above the valleys,
    Waiting his turn in the mid-summer evening,
    Thinking of Aelis, whom he loved heart and soul ...
    To find her half alone, Montfort away,
    And a brown, placid, hated woman visiting her,
    Spoiling his visit, with a year before the next one.
    Little enough?
    Or carry him forward. “Go through all the courts,
    My Magnet,” Bertrand had said.

                We came to Ventadour
    In the mid love court, he sings out the canzon,
    No one hears save Arrimon Luc D’Esparo--
    No one hears aught save the gracious sound of compliments.
    Sir Arrimon counts on his fingers, Montfort,
    Rochecouart, Chalais, the rest, the tactic,
    Malemort, guesses beneath, sends word to Cœur de Lion:

    The compact, de Born smoked out, trees felled
    About his castle, cattle driven out!
    Or no one sees it, and En Bertrans prospered?

      And ten years after, or twenty, as you will,
    Arnaut and Richard lodge beneath Chalus:
    The dull round towers encroaching on the field,
    The tents tight drawn, horses at tether
    Further and out of reach, the purple night,
    The crackling of small fires, the bannerets,
    The lazy leopards on the largest banner,
    Stray gleams on hanging mail, an armourer’s torch-flare
    Melting on steel.

                And in the quietest space
    They probe old scandals, say de Born is dead;
    And we’ve the gossip (skipped six hundred years).
    Richard shall die to-morrow--leave him there
    Talking of _trobar clus_ with Daniel.
    And the “best craftsman” sings out his friend’s song,
    Envies its vigour ... and deplores the technique,
    Dispraises his own skill?--That’s as you will.
    And they discuss the dead man,
    Plantagenet puts the riddle: “Did he love her?”
    And Arnaut parries: “Did he love your sister?
    True, he has praised her, but in some opinion
    He wrote that praise only to show he had
    The favour of your party, had been well received.”

      “You knew the man.”
                “_You_ knew the man.”
    “I am an artist, you have tried both métiers.”
    “You were born near him.”
                “Do we know our friends?”
    “Say that he saw the castles, say that he loved Maent!”
    “Say that he loved her, does it solve the riddle?”
      End the discussion, Richard goes out next day
    And gets a quarrel-bolt shot through his vizard,
    Pardons the bowman, dies,

                Ends our discussion. Arnaut ends
    “In sacred odour”--(that’s apocryphal!)
    And we can leave the talk till Dante writes:
    _Surely I saw, and still before my eyes_
    _Goes on that headless trunk, that bears for light_
    _Its own head swinging, gripped by the dead hair,_
    _And like a swinging lamp that says, “Ah me!_
    _I severed men, my head and heart_
    _Ye see here severed, my life’s counterpart.”_

    Or take En Bertrans?


III

    RIGHT
    _Ed eran due in uno, ed uno in due._
                Inferno, XXVIII, 125.

    “Bewildering spring, and by the Auvezere
    Poppies and day’s-eyes in the green émail
    Rose over us; and we knew all that stream,
    And our two horses had traced out the valleys;
    Knew the low flooded lands squared out with poplars,
    In the young days when the deep sky befriended.
      And great wings beat above us in the twilight,
    And the great wheels in heaven
    Bore us together ... surging ... and apart ...
    Believing we should meet with lips and hands.

      High, high and sure ... and then the counter-thrust:
    ‘Why do you love me? Will you always love me?
    But I am like the grass, I can not love you.’
    Or, ‘Love, and I love and love you,
    And hate your mind, not _you_, your soul, your hands.’

      So to this last estrangement, Tairiran!

      There shut up in his castle, Tairiran’s,
    She who had nor ears nor tongue save in her hands,
    Gone--ah, gone--untouched, unreachable!
    She who could never live save through one person,
    She who could never speak save to one person,
    And all the rest of her a shifting change,
    A broken bundle of mirrors ...!”



Villanelle: the Psychological Hour


    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 lust, at least, found them?
    Twice they promised to come.
            “_Between the night and 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.’”)


III

    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.”



Dans un Omnibus de Londres


    Les yeux d’une morte aimée
    M’ont salué,
    Enchassés dans un visage stupide
    Dont tous les autres traits étaient banals,
    Ils m’ont salué

    Et alors je vis bien des choses
    Au dedans de ma mémoire
    Remuer,
    S’éveiller.

    Je vis des canards sur le bord d’un lac minuscule,
    Auprès d’un petit enfant gai, bossu.

    Je vis les colonnes anciennes en “toc”
    Du Parc Monceau,
    Et deux petites filles graciles,
    Des patriciennes,
                    aux toisons couleur de lin,
    Et des pigeonnes
    Grasses
                    comme des poulardes.

    Je vis le parc,
    Et tous les gazons divers
    Où nous avions loué des chaises
    Pour quatre sous.

    Je vis les cygnes noirs,
    Japonais,
    Leurs ailes
    Teintées de couleur sang-de-dragon,

    Et toutes les fleurs
    D’Armenonville.

    Les yeux d’une morte
    M’ont salué.



To a Friend Writing on Cabaret Dancers

    RIGHT
    “_Breathe not the word to-morrow in her ears._”
                Vir Quidem, on Dancers.


    Good “Hedgethorn,” for we’ll anglicize your name
    Until the last slut’s hanged and the last pig disemboweled,
    Seeing your wife is charming and your child
    Sings in the open meadow--at least the kodak says so--
    My good fellow, you, on a cabaret silence
    And the dancers, you write a sonnet,
    Say “Forget To-morrow,” being of all men
    The most prudent, orderly, and decorous!

    “Pepita” has no to-morrow, so you write.

    Pepita has such to-morrows: with the hands puffed out,
    The pug-dog’s features encrusted with tallow
    Sunk in a frowsy collar--an unbrushed black.
    She will not bathe too often, but her jewels
    Will be a stuffy, opulent sort of fungus
    Spread on both hands and on the up-pushed bosom--
    It juts like a shelf between the jowl and corset.

    Have you, or I seen most of cabarets, good Hedgethorn?

    Here’s Pepita, tall and slim as an Egyptian mummy,
    Marsh-cranberries, the ribbed and angular pods
    Flare up with scarlet orange on stiff stalks
    And so Pepita
            flares on the crowded stage before our tables
    Or slithers about between the dishonest waiters--

        “_Carmen est maigre, un trait de bistre_
                _Cerne son œil de gitana_”

    And “rend la flamme”
            you know the deathless verses.
    I search the features, the avaricious features
    Pulled by the kohl and rouge out of resemblance--
    Six pence the object for a change of passion.

    “Write me a poem.”
            Come now, my dear Pepita,
    “-ita, bonita, chiquita,”
            that’s what you mean you advertising spade,
    Or take the intaglio, my fat great-uncle’s heirloom:
    Cupid, astride a phallus with two wings,
    Swinging a cat-o’-nine-tails.
            No. Pepita,
    I have seen through the crust.
            I don’t know what you look like
    But your smile pulls one way
            and your painted grin another,
    While that cropped fool,
            that tom-boy who can’t earn her living.
    Come, come to-morrow,
            To-morrow in ten years at the latest,
    She will be drunk in the ditch, but you, Pepita,
    Will be quite rich, quite plump, with pug-bitch features,
    With a black tint staining your cuticle,
    Prudent and svelte Pepita.
            “Poète, writ me a poème!”
    Spanish and Paris, love of the arts part of your
            geisha-culture!

    Euhenia, in short skirts, slaps her wide stomach,
    Pulls up a roll of fat for the pianist,
    “Pauvre femme maigre!” she says.
            He sucks his chop bone,
    That some one else has paid for,
            grins up an amiable grin,
    Explains the decorations.
            Good Hedgethorn, they all have futures,
    All these people.
            Old Popkoff
    Will dine next week with Mrs. Basil,
    Will meet a duchess and an ex-diplomat’s widow
    From Weehawken--who has never known
    Any but “Majesties” and Italian nobles.

    Euhenia will have a _fonda_ in Orbajosa.
    The amorous nerves will give way to digestive;
    “Delight thy soul in fatness,” saith the preacher.
    We can’t preserve the elusive “_mica salis_,”
    It may last well in these dark northern climates,
    Nell Gwynn’s still here, despite the reformation,
    And Edward’s mistresses still light the stage,
    A glamour of classic youth in their deportment.
    The prudent whore is not without her future,
    Her bourgeois dulness is deferred.
            Her present dulness....

    Oh well, her present dulness....

    Now in Venice, ‘Storante al Giardino, I went early,
    Saw the performers come: him, her, the baby,
    A quiet and respectable-tawdry trio;
    An hour later: a show of calves and spangles,

    “_Un e due fanno tre_,”
            Night after night,
    No change, no change of program, “_Chè!_
    _La donna è mobile._”



Homage to Quintus Septimius Florentis Christianus

(_Ex libris Graecae_)


I

    Theodorus will be pleased at my death,
    And someone else will be pleased at the death of Theodorus,
    And yet everyone speaks evil of death.

II

    This place is the Cyprian’s, for she has ever the fancy
    To be looking out across the bright sea,
    Therefore the sailors are cheered, and the waves
    Keep small with reverence, beholding her image.

                _Anyte._


III

    A sad and great evil is the expectation of death--
    And there are also the inane expenses of the funeral;
    Let us therefore cease from pitying the dead
    For after death there comes no other calamity.

                _Palladas._


IV

_Troy_

    Whither, O city, are your profits and your gilded shrines,
    And your barbecues of great oxen,
    And the tall women walking your streets, in gilt clothes,
    With their perfumes in little alabaster boxes?
    Where is the work of your home-born sculptors?

    Time’s tooth is into the lot, and war’s and fate’s too.
    Envy has taken your all,
    Save your douth and your story.

                _Agathas Scholasticus._


V

    Woman? Oh, woman is a consummate rage,
            but dead, or asleep, she pleases.
    Take her. She has two excellent seasons.

                _Palladas._


VI

_Nicharcus upon Phidon his doctor_

    Phidon neither purged me, nor touched me,
    But I remembered the name of his fever medicine
                              and died.



Fish and the Shadow


    The salmon-trout drifts in the stream,
    The soul of the salmon-trout floats over the stream
                    Like a little wafer of light.

    The salmon moves in the sun-shot, bright shallow sea....

    As light as the shadow of the fish
                    that falls through the water,
    She came into the large room by the stair,
    Yawning a little she came with the sleep still upon her.

    “I am just from bed. The sleep is still in my eyes.
    “Come. I have had a long dream.”

    And I: “That wood?
    And two springs have passed us.”

    “Not so far, no, not so far now,
    There is a place--but no one else knows it--
    A field in a valley....
                                _Qu’ieu sui avinen,_
    _Ieu lo sai._”

    She must speak of the time
    Of Arnaut de Mareuil, I thought, “_qu’ieu sui avinen_.”

    Light as the shadow of the fish
    That falls through the pale green water.


LONDON: PRINTED BY WILLIAM CLOWES AND SONS, LIMITED.





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