Canto IV

This Canto is in the public domain, or on the web, and unlike our critics, I will quote it. Pound is correct to note the influence of China on Greece and Greece on China: having made remade Chinese poetry as imagism — which is an error, Chinese poetics are allusions piled on metaphor, done to keep the poet’s head attached in times of censorship, as in now.

It is fair to say that we are running into copyright issues, so I have removed parts of the Canto. In doing so I have emphasised his alliances — of the sage, the poet, and the gladiator, all at risk of death in the arena. And note that Pound predicted that our postmodern Troy would not stand.

Canto IV

Palace in smoky light,
Troy but a heap of smouldering boundary stones,
Hear me.   Cadmus of Golden Prows!
The silver mirrors catch the bright stones and flare,
Dawn, to our waking, drifts in the green cool light;
Dew-haze blurs, in the grass, pale ankles moving.
Beat, beat, whirr, thud, in the soft turf
                under the apple trees,
Choros nympharum, goat-foot, with the pale foot alternate;
Crescent of blue-shot waters, green-gold in the shallows,
A black cock crows in the sea-foam;
The dogs leap on Actæon,
                “Hither, hither, Actæon,”
Spotted stag of the wood;
Gold, gold, a sheaf of hair,
                Thick like a wheat swath,
Blaze, blaze in the sun,
                The dogs leap on Actæon.
Stumbling, stumbling along in the wood,
Muttering, muttering Ovid:
                “Pergusa… pool… pool… Gargaphia,
“Pool… pool of Salmacis.”
                The empty armour shakes as the cygnet moves.
Thus the light rains, thus pours, e lo soleills plovil
The liquid and rushing crystal
                beneath the knees of the gods.
Ply over ply, thin glitter of water;
Brook film bearing white petals.
The pine at Takasago
                grows with the pine of Isé!
The water whirls up the bright pale sand in the spring’s mouth
“Behold the Tree of the Visages!”
Forked branch-tips, flaming as if with lotus.
                Ply over ply
The shallow eddying fluid,
                beneath the knees of the gods.
                And So-Gyoku, saying:
“This wind, sire, is the king’s wind,
                This wind is wind of the palace,
Shaking imperial water-jets.”
                And Hsiang, opening his collar:
“This wind roars in the earth’s bag,
                it lays the water with rushes.”
No wind is the king’s wind.
                Let every cow keep her calf.
“This wind is held in gauze curtains…”
                       No wind is the king’s…

Père Henri Jacques would speak with the Sennin, on Rokku,
Mount Rokku between the rock and the cedars,
As Gyges on Thracian platter set the feast,
Cabestan, Tereus,
                It is Cabestan’s heart in the dish,
Vidal, or Ecbatan, upon the gilded tower in Ecbatan
Lay the god’s bride, lay ever, waiting the golden rain.
By Garonne.             “Saave!”
The Garonne is thick like paint,
Procession,—“Et sa’ave, sa’ave, sa’ave Regina!”—
Moves like a worm, in the crowd.
Adige, thin film of images,
Across the Adige, by Stefano, Madonna in hortulo,
As Cavalcanti had seen her.
                The Centaur’s heel plants in the earth loam.
And we sit here…
                there in the arena…

Ezra Pound, 1914, 1933, Abridged.