Ezra Pound Poem

Homage to Sextus Propertius, XI.

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The harsh acts of your levity!
Many and many.
I am hung here, a scare-crow for lovers.

Escape! There is, O Idiot, no escape,
Flee if you like into Ranaus,
desire will follow you thither,
Though you heave into the air upon the gilded Pegasean back,
Though you had the feathery sandals of Perseus
To lift you up through split air,
The high tracks of Hermes would not afford you shelter.

Amor stands upon you, Love drives upon lovers,
a heavy mass on free necks.

It is our eyes you flee, not the city,
You do nothing, you plot inane schemes against me,
Languidly you stretch out the snare
with which I am already familiar,

And yet again, and newly rumour strikes on my ears.

Rumours of you throughout the city,
and no good rumour among them.

‘You should not believe hostile tongues.
‘Beauty is slander’s cock-shy.
‘All lovely women have known this,’
‘Your glory is not outblotted by venom,’
‘Phoebus our witness, your hands are unspotted.

A foreign lover brought down Helen’s kingdom
and she was led back, living home;
The Cytharean brought low by Mars’ lechery
reigns in respectable heavens, . . .

Oh, oh, and enough of this,
        by dew-spread caverns,
The Muses clinging to the mossy ridges;
to the ledge of the rocks:
Zeus’ clever rapes, in the old days,
combusted Semele’s, of Io strayed.
Oh how the bird flew from Trojan rafters,
Ida has lain with a shepherd, she has slept between sheep.

Even there, no escape
Not the Hyrcanian seaboard, not in seeking the shore of Eos.

All things are forgiven for one night of your games. . . .
Though you walk in the Via Sacra, with a peacock’s tail for a fan.

Homage to Sextus Propertius, XII.
Homage to Sextus Propertius, X.


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