COMPANION TO CANTO VI
Canto VI was first published in The Dial as “The Sixth Canto” in August 1921 and in Poems 1918-1921. New York: Boni & Liveright, 8 December 1921. (P&P IV: 172-175; Gallup 32). Go to the Sixth Canto. It was completely reworked for A Draft of XXX Cantos (Paris: Hours Press, 1930).
Annotations in the List of Works Cited:
Author’s last name, first name. “Title of the Article or Individual Page.” Title of the Website, Name of the Publisher [if different from website name], Date of Publication in Day Month Year format, URL. [MLA 8 format].
Example: Preda, Roxana. “Companion to Canto IV.” The Cantos Project, 5 August 2016.
OCCEP – The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound
(Contributor name, OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line number(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
© Roxana Preda. Companion to Canto VI, 9 December 2016.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Carroll F. Terrell. Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U. of California P, 1993.
Erza Pound. Guide to Kulchur. London: Peter Owen, 1978.
Ezra Pound to His Parents: Letters 1895-1929. Eds. Mary de Rachewiltz, A David Moody and Joanna Moody. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010.
Literary Essays of Ezra Pound. Ed. T. S. Eliot. New York: New Directions, 1968.
Personae. The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound. Ed. Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz. New York: New Directions, 1990.
Ezra Pound. The Spirit of Romance. New York: New Directions, 2005.
- we know what you have done – the formula “we know” suggests a reference to the Sirens’ song: “For we know all the toils that in wide Troy  the Argives and Trojans endured through the will of the gods, and we know all things that come to pass upon the fruitful earth” (Homer, Odyssey XII: 185-91).
In the 1919 version of the canto, Pound has the line as “The tale of thy deeds, Odysseus!”
Pound quoted the greater part of the phrase “For we know all the toils that in wide Troy” in the original Greek (Odyssey 12.189: ἴδμενγάρτοιπάνθ᾽ὅσ᾽ἐνὶΤροίῃεὐρείῃ) in l. 9 of “E.P. Ode Pour L’Election de son Sepulchre,” the opening poem of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley:
Caught in the unstopped ear
- Guillaume – Guillaume VII de Poitiers and IX of Aquitaine (1071-1127) was a ruler, crusader, lover, “the most courtly man in the world” and the first troubadour. Vida.
Pound connects him with Odysseus here and with Malatesta in Canto VIII (Makin 93).
And Poictiers, you know, Guillaume Poictiers
had brought the song up out of Spain
With the singers and viels. (VIII/32)
- Sold his ground rents – William mortgaged Toulouse, to which he had claim by his marriage to Philippa of Toulouse (1073-1118), to go on the First Crusade in 1101 (Makin 95). For Pound, this resonated with Bertran de Born’s later sirvente “Be.m platz lo gais temps de pascor” where he urges the barons to mortgage their castles to make war: “Barons, metetz en gatge /Castels e vilas e ciutatz,” which Pound also translated in SR (“Barons! put in pawn castles, and towns and cities before anyone makes war on us,” 47-48). In his portrait of de Born in Near Perigord, Pound quotes de Born as saying: “Pawn your castles, lords! /Let the Jews pay” (P 150). William regained Toulouse in 1113 and lost it again in 1122. See also Makin 307 n.13. Map of Aquitaine in 1154.
- Tant las fotei…vetz – Prov. “You shall hear how much I fucked them /a hundred and eighty-eight times.” From Guillaume de Poitiers’s poem Farai un vers, pos mi sonelh, (“I’ll make a verse and take a nap”). See also full translation Makin 110-112. Poem. Song. Vida.
- Louis is wed with Eleanor – The king of France, Louis VII was wedded with Eleanor, Duchess of Aquitaine and Guillaume’s IX’s grand-daughter, on the death of her father, William X, in 1137. At the time, Louis was sixteen and Eleanor was fifteen. The wedding took place on 25 July in Bordeaux (C n.6)
- And had (he Guillaume) a son – Pound draws the genealogical lines from Guillaume (William IX Duke of Aquitaine, 1071-1127) to his oldest son, William X (1099-1137) to Eleanor, William X’s daughter (1122-1204) and her son Henry (1155-1183) in the style of a troubadour vida.
- Duchess of Normandia – Pound’s source is Guillaume IX’s short biography where the author erroneously states that Eleanor’s mother was the Duchess of Normandy (Chabaneau 6). The truth is by far more interesting: Her grandfather’s mistress, the viscountess of Chatellerault (also called “La Dangereuse” or “La Maubergeonne”) had two legitimate daughters: one of them, Aenor de Chatellerault would marry Guillaume IX’s son, William X, in 1121. In this way, Eleanor d’Aquitaine’s grandmother was her grandfather’s mistress, not his wife.
- Maire del rei jove – “mother of the young king.” In William IX’s vida, Eleanor is called “maire del rei jove” because of Eleanor's second son, Henry (1155-1183). He is called “Young Henry” or the “young king” because he was crowned king during his father’s life (Chabaneau 6). Guillaume IX's vida.
- Went over sea – Pound repeats the beginning of Canto I and Odysseus’ journey from Circe’s island to the mouth of the underworld. Louis and Eleanor went together to the Holy Land, for pilgrimage and to fight in the second crusade. They actually went over land and their trip would prove to be disastrous, both militarily and personally (Makin 122-23; Owen 24-28).
- Acre – King Louis VII and Eleanor went over land through Constantinople to the Holy Land and “did not land in Acre, but at Saint Siméon, the small harbour of the city of Antioch at the foot of the mountain range called Jebel Accra” (C VI: n.10. See also Owen 24).
- “Ongla, oncle” – end words from Arnaut’s song “Lo ferm voler” [“The firm desiring”]. The poem counts as A’s first sestina, yet it is not often commented on because of its sexual double-entendre and extensive punning on sexual organs (Jernigan 1974). From Guillaume (1071-1127) to Arnaut, (fl. 1180-1200) two generations later, Pound shows that under the pressures of the “amour courtois,” the explicit sexuality of troubadour verse became hidden in the “trobar clus,” as practiced by Anaut’s “Lo ferm voler.” Out of the six rhyming words, Pound chooses “ongla” (“nail”) and “uncle” to reference what may have happened in Antioch: a sexual liaison between Eleanor and her uncle, Raymond (See Intrigues galantes; Owen, 104-105). Lo ferm voler.
Pound was rather dismissive of the poem, writing that “The rest [of Arnaut’s poems] are of love without preface, except the rhyme of the Uncle and the Nail, ‘L’Oncle et l’ongla,’ which is bad enough to have been his first experiment with the sestina, and is unfortunately, the only one which survives” (SR 36). Yet Pound did translate the poem (P&T 502-3) and worked with Walter Rummel on its music, publishing it in Hesternae Rosae (II: 5-9).
- Her uncle – Eleanor’s uncle was Raymond de Poitiers (1115-1149), Guillaume IX’s second son, eight years her senior and Prince of Antioch (1136-1149). Pound’s juxtaposition with Theseus indicates that Raymond and Eleanor had had a relationship before her marriage to Louis, which is explicitly stated in his source (Intrigues Galantes 81). The reference to Theseus below, reinforces Pound’s vision of Eleanor as a twelfth century Helen, a legendary cause of love and strife. Since Louis refused to give Raymond the military aid requested, Raymond lost the battle of Inab and his own life in 1149. See also C VI: n.14. Intrigues Galantes.
- Theseus, son of Aegeus – Hero of Athens, comparable to Heracles and Cadmus. Theseus was raised by his mother, Aethra, in her town, Troezen, while his father Aegeus returned alone to Athens. One of Theseus’s less known exploits was to kidnap Helen from Sparta when Helen was very young, not yet of marriageable age. He brought Helen to his mother, Aethra in Aphidna to hold her in absolute secrecy and then left to Epirus to help his friend Pirithous kidnap the daughter of Aïdoneus, the king of the Molossians. The trip was disastrous: Pirithous was killed and Theseus kept in captivity until Heracles freed him. Returning to Athens, Theseus found that the Dioscuri (Helen’s brothers, Castor and Pollux) had brought an army to rescue her and terrorized Athens until they found out that Helen was held in Aphidna, which they destroyed before taking her back to Sparta. Plutarch commented that of all Theseus’s acts, “his rape of Helen is said to have filled Attica with war, and to have brought about at last his banishment and death” (Plutarch Lives I: 67).
- Not at ease – Louis was aware of his wife’s special relationship to her uncle. According to Pound’s source, he was further embarrassed by Eleanor’s taking up contact with Saladin in Jerusalem, in defiance of himself and the Christian cause. This is why Louis left both Antioch and Jerusalem with nothing achieved and divorced Eleanor after returning to France, in 1152 (Intrigues galantes 81-82).
- Saladin’s cimier – An-Nasir Salah ad-Din Yusuf ibn Ayyub, also called Saladin (1137-1193). Kurdish army commander and first sultan of Egypt and Syria. Just considering S’s birth year, we see that Eleanor’s presumed relationship with Saladin was a myth. Saladin was twelve at the time Eleanor was in Antioch (1149); he was to become the opponent of her son, Richard Lionheart during the third crusade. However, Pound’s source embroidered quite a story on Eleanor’s meetings with the Muslim commander (Intrigues galantes 82-83).
- Divorced her that year – The relationship between Louis and Eleanor deteriorated rapidly while they were in the Holy Land. In fifteen years of marriage, they only had two daughters, a reason for Louis to seek another wife who would give him sons and an heir to the throne. Eleanor herself desired the annulment and suggested it herself in Antioch: it was finally carried out in 1152. The reason was consanguinity, which was the reason usually invoked in royal marriages and divorces.
- Plantagenet married her – After the annulment, Eleanor was the richest woman in France and especially vulnerable to kidnapping and forced marriage. It was imperative for her not only to dodge unworthy suitors but to marry quickly for protection. She chose Henry II Plantagenet and Duke of Normandy, who had the best political prospects, though he was eleven years her junior: in 1152, Eleanor was thirty and Henry nineteen. Together, they owned the whole west of France, from the Pyrenees to the Channel, a much greater swath of land than the King himself. Additionally, Henry was heir to the throne of England, which would become his two years after marrying Eleanor, in 1154. Map.
- Et quand… fasché – “And when the king heard this [he was] silent and angry.” Probably Pound’s pastiche of an old French chronicle (Makin 310: n.22). Louis was not only aware that he had lost Aquitaine, but also that Eleanor was now Duchess of Normandy and would soon become Queen of England, which happened in 1154.
- Nauphal, Vexis – Neaufles and Vexin, border territories between France and Normandy that were included in the dowry of Louis’s daughter Margaret (from his second marriage to Constance of Castile). Margaret was destined to marry Eleanor and Henry’s second son, also named Henry (“the young king”). The coronation took place in 1172 when Henry was 17 and Margaret 15. (See also C VI: n. 21).
- If no issue Gisors shall revert – Margaret and Henry’s only child survived only three days, so that when Henry died in 1183, the pair had no children. Margaret’s half-brother, Philip Augustus (king of France 1180-1223), demanded the return of her dowry, whereas Henry II was temporizing (Makin 265-66; 310-11).
- Need not wed Alix – Alys, Alais, or Alice of France, Countess of Vexin (1160-1220), the second daughter of Louis VII and Constance of Castile, and Margaret’s younger sister. In 1169, Henry II and Louis VII made a contract whereby Alys would marry Richard Lionheart, Henry’s third son. As Henry abused his ward and got her with child, Richard procrastinated and in the end refused to marry her. This procrastination led to a conflict with the French crown. A new contract stipulating that Richard need not wed Alys but whomever he chose was eventually drawn up between Philippe Auguste and Richard at Messina in March 1191 (Makin 269-70, 312; Owen 73). In 1191, Richard finally married Berengaria of Navarre and the former pledge was annulled.
- Eleanor – Eleanor d’Aquitaine (1122-1204). Queen of France (1137-1152) and Queen of England (1154-1204). Pound imagines her as a figure of freedom from the male world of politics and war, a resister. This freedom was manifested in her choices of husbands and lovers, in her commitment to Aquitaine, and in the flourishing of troubadour poetry at her courts in France and England for almost a century, in a vortex containing the prime poets of the age, Bernart de Ventadorn, Bertran de Born and Arnaut Daniel (Makin 128-130).
- Domna jauzionda – Prov. “joyous lady.” Quotation out of the poem Tant ai mo cor ple de joya (Such is my heart full of joy) by Bernart de Ventadorn. Trobar.org.
- Richard – Richard Plantagenet called the Lionheart (1157-1199), Eleanor’s third son who reigned England as Richard I (1189-1199). Like his mother, Richard surrounded himself with troubadours: He was a friend of Bertran de Born and Peire Vidal, patron of Gaucelm Faidit and entertained Arnaut Daniel at his court in England (Makin 128-29).
- Malemorte Corrèze – Malemort, which in Pound’s time was a village near Brive, owes its name to a massacre which happened there in the times of Richard Coeur de Lion. On 21 April 1177, “two thousand persons – free-lances, their wives and their children – were slain here in one day” (Smith 211). The Romanesque church of St. Xantin sits immediately on the south bank of the river Corrèze (McKechnie 76-77).
“There is to the east of Brive a place with so fine & sinister a name that I was almost led there, altho I knew there was nothing for the eye, a name I had invented for a poem once but had never expected to find in the stone as Malemort. I restrained myself however from this defection & took the jagged highway toward Toulouse...” (WTSF 35).
Nevertheless, Pound took heart and visited Malemort sur Corrèze on 23 August 1919, as he wrote to his parents (L/HP 446; Bressan, “Regionalism”).
- My Lady of Ventadour – Margarida de Torena, wife of Eblis III, Viscount of Ventadorn. Pound’s pastiche of Bernart’s speech using as his inspiration both what he knows of the troubadour’s life from the medieval vidas and his own trip to Malemort and Poitiers in 1919.
- Eblis - Viscount Eblis III, Bernart’s former patron. In 1148 he married Margarida of Torena whom he shut up in a dungeon out of jealousy. He divorced her in 1150. (C VI: n.29). Ventadour vida.
- Que la lauzeta mover – “Can vei la lauzeta mover.” The first line of Bernart de Ventadorn’s poem, which Pound translated as “When I see the lark a-moving” (SR 41-42). Poem.
- Lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana – Prov. “Sordello was from Mantua,” the beginning of S’s vida in C. Chabaneau. Pound introduced the vida in “Troubadours, their Sorts and Conditions,” LE 97. Sordello’s vida, Chabaneau 106. (See also Makin 192-95).
- Sier Escort – Sordello’s father was Sier el Cort as recorded in his vida (Sordello’s vida, Chabaneau 106).
- Richard de Saint Boniface – Rizzardo di San Bonifacio, Count of Verona, first husband of Cunizza da Romano. The marriage was concluded to consolidate a peace between the families Da Romano and San Bonifacio in 1222. But by 1226 the two families were at war again and news spread that Sordello had carried off Cunizza (Makin 192-3).
- Cunizza da Romano – (1198 - 1279) Italian noblewoman, sister of Ezzelino III (1194-1259) and Alberico da Romano (1196-1260). Cunizza freed her brothers’ slaves on 1 April 1265. The act of manumission was drawn up in Florence in the house of Cavalcante dei Cavalcanti, Guido’s father. (Verci’s 496-98; Zamboni 383-85; Makin 271-72).
Cunizza’s importance for Pound as a transmitter of culture was succinctly put by Peter Makin:
“Sordello was the last great representative of the troubadour culture, and Cunizza had formed his genius. She survived into old age and was living at the house of Cavalcante de’ Cavalcanti during the formative years of his son Guido.” (204-205). Cunizza’s life is more amply retold in Canto XXIX/141-42, whose composition happened at the same time with the second version of the present canto.
Cunizza appears as a figure of beauty and love in the sphere of Venus in Dante’s Paradiso IX: 13-66. Though Dante does not mention Cunizza’s freeing of her brothers’ slaves, Pound makes the connection explicit in Guide to Kulchur:
“Allow, in my case thirty years, thereabout, for a process which I do not yet call finished, the process of gradually comprehending why Dante Alighieri named certain writers. Sordello he might also have touched in spoken tradition. Cunizza, white-haired in the House of the Cavalcanti, Dante, small gutter-snipe, or small boy hearing the talk in his father’s kitchen or, later, from Guido, of beauty incarnate, or, if the beauty can by any possibility be brought into doubt, at least and with utter certainty, charm and imperial bearing, grace that stopped not an instant in sweeping over the most violent authority of her time and, from the known fact, that vigour which is a grace in itself. There was nothing in Créstien de Troyes’ narratives, nothing in Rimini or in the tales of the ancients to surpass the facts of Cunizza, with, in her old age, great kindness, thought for her slaves” (GK 107-8).
- Masnatas et servos - ML “servants and slaves” – quotation from the manumission document included in G. Verci’s Storia degli Ecelini, III: 496. Source.
- Picus de Farinatis and Don Elinus and Don Lipus – the witnesses to Cunizza's signing of the manumission act. They were the sons of the Ghibelline Farinata degli Uberti (1212-1264) whom Dante presents in Inferno: X:31-50. Verci III: 496. Source.
- A marito substraxit ipsam…dictum Sordellum concubuisse: - ML. “He kidnapped her from her husband... she slept with the said Sordello.” (Rolandino Chronicle in Chabaneau 108).
- Winter and summer – Pound’s pastiche of a poem by Sordello, beginning: “Atretan deu ben chantar finamen” (C VI: 38). Pound would quote a line from this poem as a conclusion to canto XXXVI. Poem. Lollis 180.
- Cairels was of Sarlat – Cairels (fl. 1220-1230) was an obscure troubadour contemporary with Sordello. Pound uses the same standard formula of their vidas to foreground the parallelism: Lo Sordels si fo di Mantovana – Cairels was of Sarlat. But Cairels was a bad poet and had no Romantic tale to distinguish him, no mark of heroic patrimony, no special shape to his sword hilt. See the comparison with Theseus below (Chabaneau 50). Cairels.
- They would have given him poison – Theseus was the son of Aegeus the king of Athens and Aethra the daughter of the King of Troezen. He did not know his father since he had left Troezen before his birth, leaving instructions to his mother that when their son is old enough he should take the sandals and sword he was leaving under a rock and come visit him. Theseus did so but when he arrived in Athens, the only one who knew him was Medea, Aegeus’s wife and mother of Medus, the heir of the kingdom. She persuaded Aegeus to receive T as a “stranger guest” and poison him. During the meal T drew his sword as if to cut the meat, but wanting to make himself known to his father. When the latter saw his sword hilt, he dashed the poison to the floor and recognized him as his son. (Plutarch Parallel Lives, I: The Life of Theseus, sections 3 and 12).