Ezra Pound Poem

Salve Pontifex (A. C. S.)

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One after one they leave thee,
  High Priest of Iacchus,
Intoning thy melodies as winds intone
The whisperings of leaves on sunlit days.
And the sands are many
And the seas beyond the sands are one
In ultimate, so we here being many
Are unity; nathless thy compeers,
       Knowing thy melody,
Lulled with the wine of thy music
Go seaward silently, leaving thee sentinel
O’er all the mysteries,
       High Priest of Iacchus.
For the lines of life lie under thy fingers,
And above the vari-coloured strands
Thine eyes look out unto the infinitude
Of the blue waves of heaven,
And even as Triplex Sisterhood
Thou fingerest the threads knowing neither
Cause nor the ending,
       High Priest of Iacchus,
Draw’st forth a multiplicity
Of strands, and, beholding
The colour thereof, raisest thy voice
Towards the sunset,
       O High Priest of Iacchus!
And out of the secrets of the inmost mysteries
Thou chantest strange far-sourced canticles:
       O High Priest of Iacchus!
Life and the ways of Death her
Twin-born sister, that is life’s counter-
And of night and the winds of night;
Silent voices ministering to the souls
Of hamadryads that hold council concealed
In streams and tree-shadowing
Forests on hill slopes,
       O High Priest of Iacchus,
All the manifold mystery
Thou makest a wine of song,
And maddest thy following even
With visions of great deeds
And their futility,
       O High Priest of Iacchus!
Though thy co-novices are bent to the scythe
Of the magian wind that is voice of Persephone,
Leaving thee solitary, master of initiating
Mænads that come through the
Vine-entangled ways of the forest
Seeking, out of all the world,
Madness of Iacchus,
That being skilled in the secrets of the double cup
They might turn the dead of the world
Into peans,
       O High Priest of Iacchus,
Wreathed with the glory of thy years of creating
Entangled music,
Now that the evening cometh upon thee,
Breathe upon us, that low-bowed and exultant
Drink wine of Iacchus, that since the conquering
Hath been chiefly contained in the numbers
Of them that, even as thou, have woven
Wicker baskets for grape clusters
Wherein is concealed the source of the vintage,
O High Priest of Iacchus,
Breathe thou upon us
             Thy magic in parting!
Even as they thy co-novices,
At being mingled with the sea,
While yet thou madest thy canticles
Serving upright before the altar
That is bound about with shadows
Of dead years wherein thy Iacchus
Looked not upon the hills, that being
Uncared for, praised not him in entirety.
       O High Priest of Iacchus,
Being now near to the border of the sands
Where the sapphire girdle of the sea
       Encinctureth the maiden
Persephone, released for the spring,
Look! Breathe upon us
The wonder of the thrice encinctured mystery
Whereby thou being full of years art young,
Loving even this lithe Persephone
That is free for the seasons of plenty;
Whereby thou being young art old
And shalt stand before this Persephone
       Whom thou lovest,
In darkness, even at that time
That she being returned to her husband
Shall be queen and a maiden no longer,
Wherein thou being neither old nor young
Standing on the verge of the sea
Shalt pass from being sand,
       O High Priest of Iacchus,
And becoming wave
       Shalt encircle all sands,
Being transmuted through all
The girdling of the sea.

       O High Priest of Iacchus,
Breathe thou upon us!

Note. This apostrophe was written three years
before Swinburne’s death.

Effects of Musicupon a Company of People
Echoes II


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