Thursday, July 23, 2015

Sound as a Pound

Back in January, when I was teaching the American Authors in Paris creative writing class, one of the main assignments for the students was to do a presentation on one such author in a site in Paris related to that writer. So, for example, we had presentations on Fitzgerald in front of the first hotel he stayed in, on the Rue de Rivoli; Gertrude Stein in front of the Rue de Fleurus apartment; and one on Ezra Pound, not too far from Stein's place. A very talented student called Jesse read aloud from the Cantos while standing in front of the building where Pound spent many months. Here is a photo I took, as we all huddled close to him on the sidewalk to allow the sour-faced locals to squeeze past us:


It made me realise that I hadn't read any Ezra Pound in many years, even though I always loved his work when I was a student. So over the weekend I bought this:


And I am really enjoying getting back into the music of his poetry again, particularly the Cantos, which, even if they are not always coherent or intellectually comprehensible, sound great when read aloud, and contain passages with dazzling individual images, such as:

Panisks, and from the oak, dryas,
And from the apple, mælid,
Through all the wood, and the leaves are full of voices,
A-whisper, and the clouds bowe over the lake,
And there are gods upon them,
And in the water, the almond-white swimmers,
The silvery water glazes the upturned nipple,
                As Poggio has remarked.
Green veins in the turquoise,
Or, the gray steps lead up under the cedars.

from CANTO III

Thanks to Jesse Shackelford for putting me back in touch with this.


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