Letter from Poetry Magazine

Letter to the Editor

by Ed Allen
Dear Editor,

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

Originally Published: May 16, 2008

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This prose originally appeared in the June 2008 issue of Poetry magazine

June 2008

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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