Canto IV

By Ezra Pound 1885–1972 Ezra Pound
Palace in smoky light,
Troy but a heap of smouldering boundary stones,
ANAXIFORMINGES!  Aurunculeia!
Hear me.   Cadmus of Golden Prows!
The silver mirrors catch the bright stones and flare,
Dawn, to our waking, drifts in the green cool light;
Dew-haze blurs, in the grass, pale ankles moving.
Beat, beat, whirr, thud, in the soft turf
                under the apple trees,
Choros nympharum, goat-foot, with the pale foot alternate;
Crescent of blue-shot waters, green-gold in the shallows,
A black cock crows in the sea-foam;
 
And by the curved, carved foot of the couch,
             claw-foot and lion head, an old man seated
Speaking in the low drone…:
                        Ityn!
Et ter flebiliter, Ityn, Ityn!
And she went toward the window and cast her down,
               “All the while, the while, swallows crying:
Ityn!
               “It is Cabestan’s heart in the dish.”
               “It is Cabestan’s heart in the dish?”
               “No other taste shall change this.”
And she went toward the window,
                      the slim white stone bar
Making a double arch;
Firm even fingers held to the firm pale stone;
Swung for a moment,
                        and the wind out of Rhodez
Caught in the full of her sleeve.
               . . .  the swallows crying:
‘Tis.  ‘Tis.  ‘Ytis!
               Actæon…
                   and a valley,
The valley is thick with leaves, with leaves, the trees,
The sunlight glitters, glitters a-top,
Life a fish-scale roof,
               Like the church roof in Poictiers
If it were gold.
               Beneath it, beneath it
Not a ray, not a slivver, not a spare disc of sunlight
Flaking the black, soft water;
Bathing the body of nymphs, of nymphs, and Diana,
Nymphs, white-gathered about her, and the air, air,
Shaking, air alight with the goddess
               fanning their hair in the dark,
Lifting, lifting and waffing:
Ivory dipping in silver,
               Shadow’d, o’ershadow’d
Ivory dipping in silver,
Not a splotch, not a lost shatter of sunlight.
Then Actæon: Vidal,
Vidal.   It is old Vidal speaking,
    stumbling along in the wood,
Not a patch, not a lost shimmer of sunlight,
                the pale hair of the goddess.
 
The dogs leap on Actæon,
                “Hither, hither, Actæon,”
Spotted stag of the wood;
Gold, gold, a sheaf of hair,
                Thick like a wheat swath,
Blaze, blaze in the sun,
                The dogs leap on Actæon.
Stumbling, stumbling along in the wood,
Muttering, muttering Ovid:
                “Pergusa… pool… pool… Gargaphia,
“Pool… pool of Salmacis.”
                The empty armour shakes as the cygnet moves.
 
Thus the light rains, thus pours, e lo soleills plovil
The liquid and rushing crystal
                beneath the knees of the gods.
Ply over ply, thin glitter of water;
Brook film bearing white petals.
The pine at Takasago
                grows with the pine of Isé!
The water whirls up the bright pale sand in the spring’s mouth
“Behold the Tree of the Visages!”
Forked branch-tips, flaming as if with lotus.
                Ply over ply
The shallow eddying fluid,
                beneath the knees of the gods.
 
Torches melt in the glare
                set flame of the corner cook-stall,
Blue agate casing the sky (as at Gourdon that time)
                the sputter of resin,
Safforn sandal so petals the narrow foot: Hymenæus Io!
                Hymen, Io Hymenæe! Aurunculeia!
One scarlet flower is cast on the blanch-white stone.
 
                And So-Gyoku, saying:
“This wind, sire, is the king’s wind,
                This wind is wind of the palace,
Shaking imperial water-jets.”
                And Hsiang, opening his collar:
“This wind roars in the earth’s bag,
                it lays the water with rushes.”
No wind is the king’s wind.
                Let every cow keep her calf.
“This wind is held in gauze curtains…”
                       No wind is the king’s…
 
The camel drivers sit in the turn of the stairs,
                Look down on Ecbatan of plotted streets,
“Danaë! Danaë!
             What wind is the king’s?”
Smoke hangs on the stream,
The peach-trees shed bright leaves in the water,
Sound drifts in the evening haze,
                The bark scrapes at the ford,
Gilt rafters above black water,
                Three steps in an open field,
Gray stone-posts leading…
 
Père Henri Jacques would speak with the Sennin, on Rokku,
Mount Rokku between the rock and the cedars,
Polhonac,
As Gyges on Thracian platter set the feast,
Cabestan, Tereus,
                It is Cabestan’s heart in the dish,
Vidal, or Ecbatan, upon the gilded tower in Ecbatan
Lay the god’s bride, lay ever, waiting the golden rain.
By Garonne.             “Saave!”
The Garonne is thick like paint,
Procession,—“Et sa’ave, sa’ave, sa’ave Regina!”—
Moves like a worm, in the crowd.
Adige, thin film of images,
Across the Adige, by Stefano, Madonna in hortulo,
As Cavalcanti had seen her.
                The Centaur’s heel plants in the earth loam.
And we sit here…
                there in the arena…

Ezra Pound, "Canto IV" from The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Copyright © 1993 by Ezra Pound. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Cantos of Ezra Pound (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1993)

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Poet Ezra Pound 1885–1972

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Subjects Relationships, Men & Women, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism, Greek & Roman Mythology, Love, Desire

Poetic Terms Allusion, Epic

 Ezra  Pound

Biography

Of all the major literary figures in the twentieth century, Ezra Pound has been one of the most controversial; he has also been one of modern poetry's most important contributors. In an introduction to the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot declared that Pound "is more responsible for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry than is any other individual." Four decades later, Donald Hall reaffirmed in remarks collected . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Relationships, Men & Women, Nature, Landscapes & Pastorals, Mythology & Folklore, Heroes & Patriotism, Greek & Roman Mythology, Love, Desire

SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

Poetic Terms Allusion, Epic

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