Pound Cantos, Woke crying.

I found this on the Guardian website. I have a cure for the columnist: stop being woke. Politics is a necessary evil. One seeks beauty where it is, and if your ideology would blindfold you, change your ideology.

I should add that one of the goals of this blog is to post poetry that is no longer taught because the woke have infested everything.

In the age of Decolonising The Curriculum and Rhodes Must Fall, we’ve seen the legacies of Winston Churchill and Rudyard Kipling robustly contested. I support both these movements. I am also profoundly mortified by the politics of one of my favourite poets.

Ezra Pound was a pioneer of the most exciting aesthetic movement of the 20th century. He implored artists to “make it new”; his editing transformed TS Eliot’s lumpen and exposition-laden verse into The Waste Land, which thrills to this day; and, in just two lines, he composed what I consider to be the single greatest poem ever written, In A Station Of The Metro. He was also a fascist. A vituperative antisemite. The mind that produced the sparse beauty of that poem wanted to annihilate the political and social groups that he deemed at odds with his cause. Not only did he court private audiences with Mussolini, he delivered pro-axis and anti-Jew broadcasts four times a week between 1941 and 1943, on Italian radio.
With Pound, it’s impossible to separate the art from the artist. He considered himself a propagandist. Canto XLV, one of his many attacks on financiers, is suffused with antisemitic language and imagery. Nor are these just the concerns of the past: the coding of Jews as illicitly wealthy and conspiring against democracy is again a feature of European politics.
So what are we to do with our problematic faves? History shows that any attempt to bend culture to the will of a rigid ideology is itself politically abominable (Mao, I’m looking at you). And yet we can’t absolve ourselves of the political and social consequences of problematic art (or, in my case at least, gum up our ears to its siren call). For me, the biggest lesson is that studying English literature at university is a recipe for misery. If this is being woke, I cry to dream again.

Ash Sarkar, Guardian

It is impossible to blog the Cantos in sequence without breaking copyright, though the poems are now eighty years old. I like Canto XLV. Sarkar is wrong. It is not the jews. All bankers are bastards.

Canto XLV

With Usura

With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting
that design might cover their face,
with usura
hath no man a painted paradise on his church wall
harpes et luz
or where virgin receiveth message
and halo projects from incision,
with usura
seeth no man Gonzaga his heirs and his concubines
no picture is made to endure nor to live with
but it is made to sell and sell quickly
with usura, sin against nature,
is thy bread ever more of stale rags
is thy bread dry as paper,
with no mountain wheat, no strong flour
with usura the line grows thick
with usura is no clear demarcation
and no man can find site for his dwelling.
Stonecutter is kept from his tone
weaver is kept from his loom
wool comes not to market
sheep bringeth no gain with usura
Usura is a murrain, usura
blunteth the needle in the maid’s hand
and stoppeth the spinner’s cunning. Pietro Lombardo
came not by usura
Duccio came not by usura
nor Pier della Francesca; Zuan Bellin’ not by usura
nor was ‘La Calunnia’ painted.
Came not by usura Angelico; came not Ambrogio Praedis,
Came no church of cut stone signed: Adamo me fecit.
Not by usura St. Trophime
Not by usura Saint Hilaire,
Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern;
Azure hath a canker by usura; cramoisi is unbroidered
Emerald findeth no Memling
Usura slayeth the child in the womb
It stayeth the young man’s courting
It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth
between the young bride and her bridegroom
They have brought whores for Eleusis
Corpses are set to banquet
at behest of usura.

N.B. Usury: A charge for the use of purchasing power, levied without regard to production; often without regard to the possibilities of production. (Hence the failure of the Medici bank.)

Ezra Pound