I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman-
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has had a pig-headed father;
I am old enough now to make friends.
It was you who broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root-
Let there be commerce between us
Pound is addressing Walt Whitman as a son might address a father. This is a rather competetive relationship he has with the ancestors. It is much like that in literature as well as in life. Tthis generation looks back on the previous generation as a bunch of old fogies, guys who should just die. They look to their grandfathers, the earlier times, and maybe having a better relationship with them. As many of us have better relationships with our grandparents than our parents.
He does not like
Whitman's expansive style and detail. Nevertheless, Pound will have to
deal with him. Pound appreciated a more modern style. Yet his subject matter
was quit often older and reached back to Greek times and often the French
and Italians too. Whitman was creating new traditions for America and her
writers while Pound was writing in the established American traditions.
He searched for commerce between all the great varieties and styles. Whitman
"broke the new wood" and established a foundation to guide those after
him, which allowed Pound to bring these other styles into what was American
poetry, essentially carving the wood and becoming a more refined poet.
This is all oedipal in its fashions. Whitman killed off his "fathers" to
create American poetry. His "son" grew up till kill him but he has a relationship
with his grandfather. Pound decided that he and Whitman needed some sort
of relationship between them, a "commerce."
"Hugh Swelwyn Maulberly" (1920)
This poem diagnoses the cultural, social, and economic ills of England. Maulberly is a fictional poet, a second persona to Pound. Pound creates him to aide his pursuits into explore experience and resuscitate poetry in sculptured poems. There is a problem in the modern era. The problem is, "Where are we going to find ME?" As you remember, science divorced fact from value and Darwin increased the problem in the 1800's. The 1900's asked, "Where are we going to go?" Pound delves into the old past to try to find meaning in the present.
**side note… Enjambment is moving from one line of poetry to the next without ending the sentence.For three years, out of key with the time,
He strove to resuscitate the dead art;
Of Poetry; to maintain "the sublime"
In the old sense. Wrong from the start--
The ancient philosopher Longinus wrote On the Sublime as an analysis for what we are hoping for in poetry . His question, "what is the purpose of poetry?", his answer, "To take us to the sublime." Whitman found the sublime everywhere. The disease of this era was that everything seemed meaningless, the trick was to find the sublime. Whitman made smelly armpits into the sublime where as the Modernists found boredom and lack of meaning in even the most spectacular cathedrals. Out of touch with his time, the Modern era, Muaberley has struggled for three years to redefine the sublime.
Who does this remind us of? Miniver Cheevy, they have a similar longing, of times long lost and heroic standards of yesterday. He can not find them because they are gone. He lived in a country of savages. His search is like growing lilies from acorns. Can we grow lilies from acorns? We are better off growing oaks from acorns. Capaneus is one of the seven who attack Thebes and is struck down by Zeus.No, hardly, but seeing he had been born
In a half savage country, out of date;
Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from acorn;
Capaneus, trout for factitious bait;
Pound loves to quote old writings such as he does in line ten, "," was taken from Homer's The Odyssey. You have to be educated to appreciate Pound, he inserts German, Italian, French, and other languages into his poetry. The Greek "catches in your ear" when read. You do not know what to do with it when you hear it, and it holds you there. Americans simply do not appreciate it.Idmen gar toi panq, os eni Troih
[For we all know the toils in wide Troy]
Caught in the unstopped ear;
Giving the rocks small lee-way
The chopped seas held him, therefore, that year.
His true Penelope was Flaubert,
He fished by obstinate isles;
Observed the elegance of Circe's hair
Rather than the mottoes on sun-dials.
Pound intermixed many time periods in his poetry. Penelope was Odysseus's wife and Flaubert was a French novelist in the 1800's. The two would not normally be in the same line of writing or speech, but it its Pound's search for meaning today in the lore and literature of the past that brings them together.
An image was needed for the 20th century, to define the modern era. The Attic stage was a stage in Greek architecture and art. He wants to do away with these Greek symbols and create his own for the modern movement.The age demanded an image
Of its accelerated grimace,
Something for the modern stage,
Not, at any rate, an Attic grace;
We must paraphrase the classics since the original Greek stops up our ears, it is better to have mendacities. Mendacities are lies. He is saying it is better to lie then to paraphrase the classics."Not, not certainly the obscure reveries
Of the inward gaze;
Than the classics in paraphrase!
Statues are made of plaster of paris now, no longer are they made of marble or times-taxingly carved from alabaster. Art is made for the masses, cheaply and quickly: black velvet Elvises and pink flamingtos to place in front of the trailer.The "age demanded" chiefly a mould in plaster,
Made with no loss of time,
A prose kinema, not, not assuredly, alabaster
Or the "sculpture" of rhyme.
The barbitos was a stringed instrument like the lyre used in the time of Sappho. Everything has changed: music, fashion, etc. Pound views this change as a negative thing. Everything has all gone downhill.The tea-rose tea-gown, etc.
Supplants the mousseline of Cos,
The pianola "replaces"
Dionysus is the Greek god of the wine, fertility, and even orgy, among other things. Christ replaced him; woe to Ezra. Phallic is the representation of the male genitalia. We have our own Dionysian festival in Louisiana, Mardi Gras. Very vulgar and in the open, this has been replaced by Jesus. Caliban was the flesh and Ariel was the spirit in Shakespeare. In our age the spirit does not control the flesh as it was in the days of lore; the flesh controls the spirit. Notice how he identifies Dionysus with the spirit & Christ with the flesh - just the opposite of ordinary perspectives.Christ follows Dionysus,
Phallic and ambrosial
Made way for macerations;
Caliban casts out Ariel.
This is a continuing comparison of past and present. Heraceitus said "The truth about the universe is the everything changes." According to him, we never step in the same river twice. The water that was in it has flowed away. Pound says the it is change for the worse.All things are a flowing,
Sage Heracleitus says;
But a tawdry cheapness
Shall outlast our days.
Samothrace was a place of ancient mystery religion. What has replaced the mystery? The market place has replaced the mystery with its cheapened effects. A primary complaint of the pope's last visit to Mexico was the commercialism of the event, the capitalistic system invaded. The good and the beautiful have been decided by the market place. Even religion has been swept up in the market place.Even the Christian beauty
We see to kalon [the beautiful]
Decreed in the market place.
Faun's flesh is not to us,
Not the saint's vision.
We have the press for wafer;
Franchise for circumcision.
Commerce has replaced the sacred event of circumcision in the Jewish religion and the American dream of making money. The press, our modern sacrament, has replaced the Christian sacrament of communion.
All men, in law, are equals.
Free of Pisistratus,
We choose a knave or an eunuch
To rule over us.
Pisistratus was a Greek dictator who had great things done in his name, such as architecture and art. He had the Iliad and the Odyssey edited into their present form, much as King James is best known for the translation of the Bible that he supported.
Democracy picks knaves and eunuchs for its leaders (which is ours?) & produced mass entertainment rather than great art. Pound admired such people as Mussolini and Hitler because they were strong men.
O bright Apollo,
Tin andra, tin hroa, tina qeon, [What man, what hero, what god,]
What god, man, or hero
Shall I place a tin wreath upon?
Rather than olive wreaths we have tin wreaths, a sign of our diminished times.
These fought, in any case,
and some believing, pro domo, in any case ..
Some quick to arm,
some for adventure,
some from fear of weakness,
some from fear of censure,
some for love of slaughter, in imagination,
learning later ...
some in fear, learning love of slaughter;
Died some pro patria, non dulce non et decor" ..
walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving
came home, home to a lie,
home to many deceits,
home to old lies and new infamy;
usury age-old and age-thick
and liars in public places.
Daring as never before, wastage as never before.
Young blood and high blood,
Fair cheeks, and fine bodies;
fortitude as never before
frankness as never before,
disillusions as never told in the old days,
hysterias, trench confessions,
laughter out of dead bellies.
died for nothing. Mr. Nixon advised Hugh (Pound) about his writing. He
told Hugh to write a column even if it was for free so that he may build
an audience. HE was teaching the young writer how to become "big" and rich.
IF you want to popular among the people you must ally the critics. Don't
waste your time writing great literature, write stories that the people
want to hear or read.
There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization.
Charm, smiling at the good mouth,
Quick eyes gone under earth's lid,
For two gross of broken statues,
For a few thousand battered books.
Gladstone was still respected,
When John Ruskin produced
"Kings Treasuries"; Swinburne
And Rossetti still abused.
Fśtid Buchanan lifted up his voice
When that faun's head of hers
Became a pastime for
Painters and adulterers.
The Burne-Jones cartons
Have preserved her eyes;
Still, at the Tate, they teach
Cophetua to rhapsodize;
Thin like brook-water,
With a vacant gaze.
The English Rubaiyat was still-born
In those days.
The thin, clear gaze, the same
Still darts out faun-like from the half-ruin'd face,
Questing and passive ....
"Ah, poor Jenny's case" ...
Bewildered that a world
Shows no surprise
At her last maquero's