Ezra Pound Poem

Provincia Deserta

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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 \vomen
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;
Heard, 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 Cceur-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
                  tingeing 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 valleys
“Where the great halls were closer together.”
I have seen Foix on its rock, seen Toulouse, and Aries greatly
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.

from Canto CXV


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