Ezra Pound Poem

Canto V

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Great bulk, huge mass, thesaurus;
Ecbatan, the block ticks and fades out;
The bride awaiting the god’s touch; Ecbatan,
City of patterned streets; again the vision:
Down in the viae stradae, toga’d the crowd, and arm’d
Rushing on populous buriness, and from parapets
Looked down—at North
Was Egypt, and the celestial Nile, blue-deep
                cutting low barren lands,
Old men and camels working the water-wheels;
                Measureless seas and stars,
Iamblichus’ light, the souls ascending,
Sparks like a partridge covey,
                Like the “ciocco,” brand struck in the game.
“Et omniformis”:
                          Air, fire, the pale soft light.
Topaz, I manage, and three sorts of blue;
                          but on the barb of time.
The fire? always, and the vision always,
Ear dull, perhaps, with the vision, flitting
And fading at will. Weaving with points of gold,
Gold-yellow, saffron . . .
                                     The roman show, Aurunculeia’s,
And come shuffling feet, and cries “Da nuces!
“Nuces!” praise and Hymenaeus “brings the girl to her man.”
Titter of sound about me, always,
                                     and from “Hesperus . . .”
Hush of the older song: “Fades light from seacrest,
“And in Lydia walks with pari’d women
“Peerless among the pairs, and that once in Sardis
“In satieties . . .
               “Fades the light from the sea, and many things
“Are set abroad and brought to mind of thee,”
And the vinestocks lie untended, new leaves come to the shoots,
North wind nips on the bough, and seas in heart
Toss up chill crests,
               And the vine stocks lie untended
And many things are set abroad and brought to mind
Of thee, Atthis, unfruitful.
               The talks ran long in the night.
And from Mauleon, fresh with a new earned grade,
In maze of approaching rain-steps, Poicebot—
The air was full of women.
                                     And Savairic Mauleon
Gave him his land and knight’s fee, and he wed the woman.
Came lust of travel on him, or romerya;
and out of England a knight with slow-lifting eyelids
Lei fassar furar a del, put glamour upon her . . .
And left her an eight months gone.
                “Came lust of woman upon him,”
Poicebot, now on North road from Spain
(Sea-change, a grey in the water)
                And in small house by town’s edge
Found a woman, changed and familiar face;
Hard night, and parting at morning.

And Pieire won the singing, Pieire de Maensac,
Song or land on the throw, and was dreitz hom
And had De Tierci’s wife and with the war they made:
                                       Troy in Auvergnat
While Menelaus piled up the church at port
He kept Tyndarida. Dauphin stood with de Maensac.

John Borgia is bathed at last.
                  (Clock-tick pierces the vision)
Tiber, dark with the cloak, wet cat gleaming in patches.
Click of the hooves, through garbage,
Clutching the greasy stone. “And the cloak floated”
Slander is up betimes.
                                        But Varchi of Florence,
Steeped in a different year, and pondering Brutus,
                 “SIGA MAL AUTHIS DEUTERON!
“Dog-eye!!” (to Alessandro)
                 “Whether for Love of Florence,” Varchi leaves it,
Saying, “I saw the man, came up with him at Venice,
“I, one wanting the facts,
“And no mean labour.
                                      “Or for a privy spite?”
                 Good Varchi leaves it,
But: “I saw the man. Se pia?
O impia? For Lorenzaccio had thought of stroke in the open
“But uncertain (for the Duke went never unguarded) . . .
“And would have thrown him from wall
“Yet feared this might not end him,” or lest Alessandro
Know not by whom death came,
                                      O si credesse
“If when the foot slipped, when death came upon him,
“Lest cousin Duke Alessandro think he’d fallen alone
“No friend to aid him in falling.”
                                      Caina attende.
As beneath my feet a lake, was ice in seeming.
And all of this, runs Varchi, dreamed out beforehand
In Perugia, caught in the star-maze by Del Carmine,
Cast on a natal paper, set with an exegesis, told,
All told to Alessandro, told thrice over,
Who held his death for a doom.
In abuleia.
                But Don Lorenzino
“Whether for love for Florence . . . but
          “O si morisse, credesse caduto da se.”

                                        SIGA, SIGA!
The wet cloak floats on the surface,
Schiavoni, caught on the wood-barge,
Gives out the afterbirth, Giovanni Borgia,
Trails out no more at nights, where Barabello
Prods the Pope’s elephant, and gets no crown, where Mozarello
Takes the Calabrian roadway, and for ending
Is smothered beneath a mule,
                                       a poet’s ending,
Down a stale well-hole, oh a poet’s ending. “Sanazarro
“Alone out of all the court was faithful to him”
For the gossip of Naples’ trouble drifts to North,
Fracastor (lightning was midwife) Cotta, and Ser D’Alviano,
Al poco giorno ed al gran cerchio d’ombra,
Talk the talks out with Navighero,
Burner of yearly Martials,
               (The slavelet is mourned in vain)
And the next comer
                 says “were nine wounds,
“Four men, white horse with a double rider,”
The hooves clink and slick on cobbles . . .
Schiavoni . . . the cloak floats on the water,
“Sink the thing,” splash wakes Schiavoni;
Tiber catching the nap, the moonlit velvet,
A wet cat gleaming in patches.
                                      “Se pia,” Varchi
“O empia, ma risoluto
“E terribile deliberazione”
               Both sayings run in the wind,
Ma si morisse!

Abu Salammamm⁠—A Song of Empire
Canto III


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