In their spirited exchange ["Letters to the Editor," March 2008], both Clive James and William Watt seem to miss the real point of Pound's wonderful line "the ant's a centaur in his dragon world." When read in the context of the canto's refrain "pull down thy vanity," the line comes clear. In a world laid out on the scale of fleas and mites (and under the electron microscope that world does appear dragon-haunted), the ant stands like a centaur. Whether or not his front appendages are raised like the centaur's human arms is a side issue. Pound invites us to consider what our human vanity looks like when viewed from a perspective in which we ourselves are no more centaur-like than the mighty ant.
Vermillion, South Dakota