Hugh Selwyn Mauberley [Part II]

By Ezra Pound 1885–1972 Ezra Pound

             1920 (Mauberley)


                                   I

Turned from the “eau-forte
Par Jaquemart”
To the strait head
Of Messalina:

“His True Penelope
Was Flaubert,”
And his tool
The engraver's.

Firmness,
Not the full smile,
His art, but an art
In profile;

Colourless
Pier Francesca,
Pisanello lacking the skill 
To forge Achaia.


                                    II

      “Qu’est ce qu’ils savent de l’amour, et qu’est ce qu’ils peuvent comprendre?
        S’ils ne comprennent pas la poésie, s’ils ne sentent pas la musique, qu’est ce qu’ils peuvent comprendre de cette passion en comparaison avec laquelle la rose est grossière et le parfum des violettes un tonnerre?”         — CAID ALI
 
For three years, diabolus in the scale,
He drank ambrosia,
All passes, ANANGKE prevails,
Came end, at last, to that Arcadia.
 
He had moved amid her phantasmagoria,
Amid her galaxies,
NUKTIS’AGALMA
 
  .      .      .      .      .      .      .      .
 
Drifted ... drifted precipitate
Asking time to be rid of ...
Of his bewilderment; to designate
His new found orchid.  ...
 
To be certain ... certain ...
(Amid ærial flowers) ... time for arrangements—
Drifted on
To the final estrangement;
 
Unable in the supervening blankness
To sift TO AGATHON from the chaff
Until he found his sieve ...
Ultimately, his seismograph:
 
—Given that is his “fundamental passion,”
This urge to convey the relation
Of eye-lid and cheek-bone
By verbal manifestations;
 
To present the series
Of curious heads in medallion—
 
He had passed, inconscient, full gaze,
The wide-banded irides
And botticellian sprays implied
In their diastasis;
 
Which anæsthesis, noted a year late,
And weighed, revealed his great affect,
(Orchid), mandate
Of Eros, a retrospect.
 
                            .               .               .
 
Mouths biting empty air,
The still stone dogs,
Caught in metamorphosis, were
Left him as epilogues.
 
 
                     “THE AGE DEMANDED”
 
                   VIDE POEM II. PAGE 355
 
For this agility chance found
Him of all men, unfit
As the red-beaked steeds of
The Cytheræan for a chain bit.
 
The glow of porcelain
Brought no reforming sense
To his perception
Of the social inconsequence.
 
Thus, if her colour
Came against his gaze,
Tempered as if
It were through a perfect glaze
 
He made no immediate application
Of this to relation of the state
To the individual, the month was more temperate
Because this beauty had been.
 
    .   .   .   .   .
                           The coral isle, the lion-coloured sand
                           Burst in upon the porcelain revery:
                           Impetuous troubling
                           Of his imagery.
    .   .   .   .   .
 
Mildness, amid the neo-Nietzschean clatter,
His sense of graduations,
Quite out of place amid
Resistance to current exacerbations,
 
Invitation, mere invitation to perceptivity
Gradually led him to the isolation
Which these presents place
Under a more tolerant, perhaps, examination.
 
By constant elimination
The manifest universe
Yielded an armour
Against utter consternation,
 
A Minoan undulation,
Seen, we admit, amid ambrosial circumstances
Strengthened him against
The discouraging doctrine of chances,
 
And his desire for survival,
Faint in the most strenuous moods,
Became an Olympian apathein
In the presence of selected perceptions.
 
A pale gold, in the aforesaid pattern,
The unexpected palms
Destroying, certainly, the artist’s urge,
Left him delighted with the imaginary
Audition of the phantasmal sea-surge,
 
Incapable of the least utterance or composition,
Emendation, conservation of the “better tradition,”
Refinement of medium, elimination of superfluities,
August attraction or concentration.
 
Nothing, in brief, but maudlin confession,
Irresponse to human aggression,
Amid the precipitation, down-float
Of insubstantial manna,
Lifting the faint susurrus
Of his subjective hosannah.
 
Ultimate affronts to human redundancies;
 
Non-esteem of self-styled “his betters”
Leading, as he well knew,
To his final
Exclusion from the world of letters.
 
 
                                           IV
 
                     Scattered Moluccas
                     Not knowing, day to day,
                     The first day’s end, in the next noon;
                     The placid water
                     Unbroken by the Simoon;
 
                     Thick foliage
                     Placid beneath warm suns,
                     Tawn fore-shores
                     Washed in the cobalt of oblivions;
 
                     Or through dawn-mist
                     The grey and rose
                     Of the juridical
                     Flamingoes;
 
                     A consciousness disjunct,
                     Being but this overblotted
                     Series
                     Of intermittences;
 
                     Coracle of Pacific voyages,
                     The unforecasted beach;
                     Then on an oar
                     Read this:
 
                     “I was
                     And I no more exist;
                     “Here drifted
                     An hedonist.”
 
 
                                 MEDALLION
 
Luini in porcelain!
The grand piano
Utters a profane
Protest with her clear soprano.
 
The sleek head emerges
From the gold-yellow frock
As Anadyomene in the opening
Pages of Reinach.
 
Honey-red, closing the face-oval,
A basket-work of braids which seem as if they were
Spun in King Minos’ hall
From metal, or intractable amber;
 
The face-oval beneath the glaze,
Bright in its suave bounding-line, as,
Beneath half-watt rays,
The eyes turn topaz.

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Poet Ezra Pound 1885–1972

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 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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SCHOOL / PERIOD Modern

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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