The Cantos by Ezra Pound

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But Canto IV ’s poetry is, perhaps, best seen as a rather unique kind of parataxis, with related (or sometime unrelated) images superimposed one upon the other. Each new ‘disconnected’ idea transforms what has gone before. Where there is recurrence (an echo) then there is amplification of meaning, where difference, a dispersal of energy, as when ripples cut across one another in a pond and diffract: growing in energy where crest meets crest or trough meets trough, diminishing where crest meets trough:

Ply over ply
The shallow eddying fluid,
(28/15)


As Canto IV continues, two more ‘waves’ cross, one from Ovid and one from the troubadour life of ‘Guillaume of Cabestang, whose heart was eaten by his lady – not knowing what she did, nor that her husband had slain the troubadour out of jealousy:’

And by the curved, carved foot of the couch,
claw-foot and lion head, an old man seated
Speaking in the low drone….:
Ityn!
Et ter flebiliter, Itys, Ityn!
(24/13)


The first ‘ply’ here is a description of the couch’s foot, and the words ply , one over the other: ‘curved, carved.’ The ‘over-ply’ is ‘an old man’, Tereus, sat on the floor, himself possessed of ‘claw-foot and lion head,’ whose words are a melancholy murmur – ‘in the low drone’ – but then to seem to acquire the lightness of a swallow’s twitter: ‘Ityn!/Et ter flebiliter, Itys, Ityn!’

These lines constitute, as it were, the ‘first wave’ of images. Then the second wave follows:

And she went before the window and cast her down,
‘All the while, the while, swallows crying:
Ityn!
‘It is Cabestan’s heart in the dish.’
‘It is Cabestan’s heart in the dish?’
‘No other taste shall change this.’
And she went toward the window,
the slim white stone bar
Making a double arch;
Firm even fingers held to the firm pale stone;
Swung for a moment,
and the wind out of Rhodez
Caught in the full of her sleeve.
(ibid.)

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Ezra Pound