COMPANION TO CANTO VII
Canto VII was first published in The Dial as “The Seventh 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 Seventh Canto.
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 VII, 16 January 2017.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Carroll F. Terrell. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.
Guide to Kulchur. London: Peter Owen, 1958.
Ezra Pound. Literary Essays. New York: New Directions, 1968
Roxana Preda. Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound – Generic acronym for the new glosses in The Cantos Project.
Pound, Ezra. Personae. The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound. Ed. Lea Baechler and A. Walton Litz. New York: New Directions, 1990.
Pound, Ezra. Poetry & Prose. Contributions to Periodicals. Vol. III. Eds. Lea Baechler, A. Walton Litz and James Longenbach. New York: Garland, 1991.
Ezra Pound. Selected Prose, 1909-1965. Ed. William Cookson. New York: New Directions, 1975.
LIST OF CONTRIBUTORS
Peter Makin (PM)
Walter Baumann (WB)
Peter Liebregts (PL)
- Eleanor – Eleanor of Aquitaine (1124-1204). Eleanor was married to the King of France, Louis VII for 15 years (1137-1152). Her marriage to Louis being annulled in 1152, she then married Henry, the Duke of Normandy and the future King of England. Like Helen of Troy, she gave up her first royal marriage to marry a foreigner, lesser in rank than her husband and a future enemy. Her new marriage transferred the duchy of Aquitaine to the English crown succession, thereby supporting Henry’s expansion in France and contributing to constant territorial disputes with the French crown during her lifetime and that of her sons.
Eleanor is also mentioned in Canto II, which was initially conceived as number VIII and a sequel to the present canto. Pound repositioned Canto VIII as Canto II in 1923.
- spoiled in a British climate – Eleanor’s marriage to Henry Plantagenet deteriorated over time and reached a nadir when Henry imprisoned her for ten years (1173-1189) for helping their sons rebel against him (Owen 69-79).
- ‘Έλανδρos and ‘έλέπτολις – (helandros and heleptolis, destroyer of men and destroyer of cities) – Aeschylus’s puns on the name of Helen in his play Agamemnon: 689-90: “‘Έλέναυς, ‘έλανδρος, ‘έλέπτολις” (“helenaus, helandros, heleptolis” – destroyer of ships, destroyer of men, destroyer of cities). The quote showcases Pound’s view of Eleanor as an avatar of Helen of Troy, a woman whose second marriage is a source of relentless war.
- Homer blind - For Pound, Homer's blindness was the reason for his particular power as a poet: in this canto, as well as in canto II, he emphasizes Homer's imagination and musical sensibility.
In "I Gather the Limbs of Osiris," (1911), Pound remarked:
"Homer of the Odyssey, man conscious of the world outside him: and if we accept the tradition of Homer's blindness, we may find in that blindness the significant cause of his power; for him, the outer world would have been a place of mystery, of uncertainty, of things severed from their attendant trivialities, of acts, each one cloaked in some glamour of the inexperienced; his work, therefore, a work of imagination and not of observation" (SP 31).
- Ear, ear for the sea surge – The poetic quality that Pound most admired in Homer was his ear for language and his ability to make Greek imitate natural sound.
In his article “Hugues Salel” (“Of Homer, two qualities remain untranslated: the magnificent onomatopoeia, as of the rush of the waves on the sea beach and their recession as in παρὰ θι̃να πολυφλοίσβοιο θαλάσσης [para thina poluphloisboio thalassês] untranslated and untranslatable; and secondly, the authentic cadence of speech; the absolute conviction that the words used, […] are in the actual swing of words spoken (LE 250; P&P III: 140-142).
- rattle of old men’s voices – The discourse of the Trojan elders when they see Helen on theramparts of the city (Iliad III: 139-160), also mentioned in Canto II.
Unlike the Greek elders in Aeschylus’s Agamemnon, who hate Helen as a woman “with war for dower,” the Trojan old men recognize her as a goddess and do not blame her, but neither do they appreciate her beauty and divinity, being concerned only for their safety and welfare: they advise their king to send her back to the Greek ships and end the war. Pound emphasizes his contempt for their prudence and insensitivity by the word “rattle,” which is part of the general symbolism of desiccation and lifelessness presented in this canto: “thin husks,” (73-78), “dead, dry talk, gassed out,” (89-90) and “the words rattle” (107-114). In canto II, written two years later, the elders’ voices are a more neutral “murmur.” Agamemnon. Iliad III: 139-165.
- phantom Rome – In lines 4-16, Pound goes through a quick survey of the literary donations of the classics, from Homer to Dante, presenting it as a tradition beginning in the cultivation of sound, turning toward the visual and ultimately the visionary in Dante’s Paradiso. The Latin poets built on the Greek substance and added “a certain sophistication” (“How to Read” in LE 27).
- “Si pulvis nullus erit… excute” – “Et si nullus erit pulvis, tamen excute nullum.” L. “if there’s no dust, flick it off anyway” (Ars amatoria I: 151). Pound’s example from Ars Amatoria shows Ovid immersed in contemporary life and creating poetry out of details of his own experience, without recourse to mythology. The poet is instructing his reader on seduction strategies in the Roman theatre: he should squeeze himself into a narrow seat next to the lady of interest, then brush away an invisible speck of dust from her lap. Ars amatoria.
- Then file and candles, e li mestiers ecoutes [escoutes] – OF. “and listen to the masters.” Allowing that Pound is continuing in Ovid’s voice, which is addressing an invisible “you,” we may assume that he goes on to admonish this “you” to file and polish his work by candlelight and observe the rules of the craft. The word “mestier” in Old French straddles the meanings of the French “métier” (craft, profession); “maitre” (master); and “mystère” (mystery, secret). (Anglo-Norman Dictionary)
It is interesting to note that “e[s]coutes” rhymes with Ovid’s “excute” (“flick off” the dust), a word which Pound moves at the end of the line for rhyme purposes.
- but still scene – In contrast to chronicles, which recorded events in chronological sequence as bare succession of actions, there are isolated instances in medieval literature where a scene is presented, evoked in visual terms, as in Bertran de Born’s sirventes. De Born preferred to include visual details only when describing battles, but Pound considers this as an innovation and gives the example of de Born’s “Be.m platz lo gais temps de pascor,” to which he refers below.
- y cavals armatz – [e cavals armatz] Prov. “and horses in armor.” From Bertran de Born’s sirvente “Be.m platz lo gais temps de pascor.” (“Well pleaseth me the sweet time of Easter.”) The first stanza is emotion presented by means of a “scene,” an evocation. Pound translated the poem in SR and associated it with the “pageantry” of Paolo Ucello: “Well pleaseth me the sweet time of Easter/ That maketh the leaf and the flower come out/ And it pleaseth me when I hear the clamor/ Of the birds, their song through the woods;/ And it pleaseth me when I see through the meadows/ The tents and pavilions set up, and great joy have I/ When I see o’er the campagna the knights armed and horses arrayed./” (SR 47-48) Poem.
- ciocco – In Canto 18 of the Paradiso, Dante compares the array of souls in the 9th circle of Paradise to the game of “ciocco”: this consists in striking a smoldering log and guessing one’s fortune by the play of sparks. Pound first mentions it in Canto V: 16-17 (OCCEP V: n.9-10). The ciocco, as Dante conceives it, is a metaphor for the visionary presentation of history, for in the Paradiso scene Dante describes, the sparks are not random, but distribute themselves to form the neck and crest of the imperial eagle: this formal arrangement is also a prophecy of the victory of the Empire, which Pound shows in canto V to have been fulfilled, 200 years after Dante’s death, in the time of Alessandro de Medici. The latter’s ascent to power in Florence was only made possible by the support of the Holy-Roman Emperor Charles V, who was the real ruler of the Italian peninsula at the time. In this way, the sparks of the ciocco are a definite “image,” a formal arrangement that has the power of forecasting the future. The poet is a seer and a prophet. Dante in the circle of Jupiter.
- Un peu moisi... barometre –Pound chooses a few statements from the fourth paragraph of Un coeur simple by Gustave Flaubert and reorders them to make a synthesis of a historical period. By a few strokes, Pound directs our attention to the mouldy, declining state of the old house. Even the ellipses are suggestive: the reader may wonder what is under the barometer: “a pyramid of old books and boxes,” a heap of detritus that is kept and cherished. Flaubert: Un coeur simple.
“Flaubert's details – and most of the details from other authors in this canto – are symptomatic, carry whole lives and cultures with them” (PM).
- The house too thick – Pound deeply despised the free leasehold system practiced in England, whereby a house buyer is allowed to purchase only a limited period lease on the house, not the house itself.
He remarked: “The London ground rents and entails, lease system etc. have defiled English buildings. A man will be hesitant to build permanent beauty if he knows that someone else can bag it at the end of 9 or 99 years. As ‘B. H. Dias’ I spent my odd time for several months observing the decadence of wood-carving, fanlights over London doors” (GK 245). WB.
- the great domed head – Beginning of Pound’s portrait of Henry James as prime model of a distinct literary method: the “ghostly visit.” The whole canto is an evocation of a Jamesian “sense of the past” and its lingering in memories, styles, impressions, and conversations. James usually constructed this evocation in the gothic mode, as a preparation for a horror scene, notably in The Jolly Corner. Pound leaves out the gothic construct – his interest is rather in the personal exploration and brief reliving of a remembered past.
- con gli occhi onesti e tardi – I. “with eyes honest and deliberate.” This is a variation on two passages in Dante’s Divina Commedia. The first one, in Inferno IV, describes the procession of non-Christian personalities of great authority “con occhi tardi e gravi” who dwell in the Limbo, in a castle full of light, separate from the darkness around them (Inferno IV: 112); the second is Dante’s description of Sordello’s face, conveying the authority and dignity emanating from his expression.“Venimmo a lei: o anima lombarda,/come ti stavi altera e disdegnosa/e nel mover de li occhi onesta e tarda!” (“We went toward him: O Lombard soul,/ how lordly and disdainful you were,/ and in the movement of the eyes, how honest and deliberate!) (Purgatory, VI: 60-63. Tr. Roxana Preda).
- Grave incessu –L. “solemn walk.” Pound’s adaptation of Vergil’s “vera incessu patuit dea” (“the walk revealed the true goddess”) concluding the apparition of Aphrodite to Aeneas and his recognition of his divine mother in the Aeneid I: 405.
- ghostly visits – Probably an evocation of a visit that Pound made in 1919 to the flat of Margaret Cravens, an American friend and first patron, who committed suicide on June 1, 1912 (Pound and Spoo 144-45). See also VII: 79-86 “shell of the older house.”
- Empire handle – handle in the Egyptian-inspired Napoleonic style. It rhymes with the “sham Mycenian,/ ‘Toc’ sphinxes, sham-Memphis columns” (VII: 79-80) Pound mentions below to evoke a derivative, second-rate culture.
- Ione – Ione de Forest, artistic name of the dancer Jeanne Heyse, or Joan Hayes (1890-1912). Pound may have seen her dance in Aleister Crowley’s suite of rituals called The Rites of Eleusis, performed first in a private drawing room, then at Caxton Hall in 1909. Ione danced in the last episode, dedicated to Artemis and called “The Rite of Luna.” Ione killed herself on 2 August 1912 in her home in Chelsea. (C VII: n.17, 31-32). Pound wrote “Dance Figure” and “Ione dead the Long Year” to commemorate her. Poems.
“A similar female presence permeates many of its [Lustra volume’s] poems, “April,” “Gentildonna,” “The Spring” (“She, who moved here amid the cyclamen/ Moves only now a clinging tenuous ghost”). These spirits stand in contrast to Lustra’s images of real women – the women in the tea shops, restaurants, and streets of contemporary London” (McCarren 79).
- Liu Ch’e’s lintel – Liu Ch’e is the Han emperor Wu-Ti (156-87 BC), who composed an elegy for his dead concubine Li Furen. This classic poem has been translated many times: here is the version Pound knew:
“The sound of rustling silk is stilled,
With dust the marble courtyard filled;
No footfalls echo on the floor,
Fallen leaves in heaps block up the door…
For she, my pride, my lovely one, is lost,
And I am left, in hopeless anguish tossed” (Giles 100; Qian 40).
Pound remodeled Liu Ch’e poem to:
“The rustling of the silk is discontinued,
Dust drifts over the courtyard,
There is no sound of footfall, and the leaves
Scurry into heaps and lie still,
And she the rejoicer of the heart is beneath them:
A wet leaf that clings to the threshold. (“Liu Ch’e” P 110-111).
Liu Ch’e’s original poem shows that he too revisited the lady’s chamber and courtyard to feel her presence. The term “lintel” as a metaphor for the mind is more appropriate as a comment on the persistence of memory, which is Pound’s theme in this canto.
- The Elysée – The name of a hotel in a network, spread around Paris, called Hôtels Elysées. What occasionally differentiates them is the name of the street where they are located. In an earlier draft of the canto, Pound indicated the street: it was rue la Boétie, parallel to the rue du Colisée, where Margaret’s flat was located (Pound and Spoo 145).
- Erard – a piano designed by Sébastien Érard, a prestigious French piano manufacturer.
- in "time" – The lines evoke Cravens’ Paris flat in the style of Flaubert, using the passage from Un coeur simple as a parallel (See also C VII: n.20, 32). Cravens was an accomplished pianist and had money, so she would have been able to afford an Érard. The silver and the panier on the desk also evoke a woman’s presence (see also Pound and Spoo 145). Such details have documentary value, give the tone of a period.
- Beer-bottle – reference to the statues in the Luxembourg Gardens.
“He and Fritz Vanderpyl, whose corner apartment (deuxième étage, with a stone life mask on the balcony) looked down the Rue Royer-Collard to the Luxembourg Gardens, strolled in the Gardens observing official art, notably the statue of Blanche de Castille by Auguste Dumont, 1850, of which they constated the contour in pronouncing it a “beer-bottle on the statue’s pediment” (Kenner 390). Map.
- Fritz – Fritz René Vanderpyl (1876-1965). Dutch writer living in Paris, near the Luxembourg Gardens.In canto 80, Pound gives the address of the flat: 13, rue Gay de Lussac (LXXX/510). Map.
- Smaragdos, chrysolitos – Propertius is mourning Cynthia’s indulgence for luxury gifts: “sed quascumque tibi vestis, quoscumque smaragdos,/ quosve dedit flavo lumine chrysolithos,/ haec videam rapidas in vanum ferre procellas:/ quae tibi terra, velim, quae tibi fiat aqua.” (“But, that man, whatever clothes he gave you, whatever emerald, or yellow-glowing topaz, I’d like to see swift-moving hurricanes whirl them to the void: I wish they were merely earth or water to you”) (Propertius Elegies Book II, XVI: 43-46). The luxuries of the Roman world that Propertius mentions here are real details of contemporary life of the period: Pound may look on them with a “prose,” even a Flaubertian interest. See the same approach to da Gama’s fashionable clothes in the same line.
Pound considered Propertius’ lines above as a distinctive mark of his style, his poetic virtú, in analogy with Catullus’ “luteus pede soccum” (“yellow sandals”) he mentioned in canto IV (SP 29).
- De Gama – Vasco da Gama (1469-1524) Portuguese explorer who discovered the maritime route to India by going around the Cape of Good Hope. Da Gama is the hero of Camões’s epic poem The Lusiads: in the stanzas 97-98 of his Canto II, Camões describes Da Gama’s clothes as resplendent in Hispanic style, but with the noble additions of Venetian crimson satin and of gold in his buttons, bloomers, and doublet.
In SR Pound commented: “Although Camões is indubitably a poet, one reads him today with a prose interest. Os Lusiadas is better than an historical novel; it gives us the tone of a time’s thought. Thus far it is epic. […] the real weakness of the Lusiads is that it is an epic of a cross section, and voices a phase, a fashion of a people, and not their humanity” (216).
- Mountains of the sea gave birth to troops – pastiche of Camões’s bombastic rhetoric, which Pound considered a symptom of the political decadence of the Portuguese empire Camões was glorifying in his epic. In Three Cantos II, Pound makes a similar point (OCCEP Three Cantos II: n.41-43). See also his criticism of Camões’s bombast, superficiality, and exclusive interest in externals in SR 214-22.
- Le vieux commode en acajou [la vieille commode] – Fr. “the old mahogany chest.”
- Tyro – Odysseus meets Tyro at the mouth of the underworld after talking to Tiresias (Odyssey XI: 267-95). She tells him she was in love with a river, Enipeus, but was ravished in her sleep by Poseidon (see also Canto II: 23-27: OCCEP: n. 13). Tyro’s fate is similar to that of the nymph Nicaea, who was raped by Dionysus in her sleep.
- Έλέναυς, ‘έλανδρος, ‘έλέπτολις – Gr. “destroyer of ships, men, cities” from Aeschylus’s play, Agamemnon 689-90. This is how the Greek elders see Helen, as a destroyer, a “bride of war.” (See also Canto II: 11 and OCCEP II: n.11.) Agamemnon.
- The scarlet curtain – Reference to Arthur Golding’s translation of a passage in Ovid’s Metamorphoses: “cum super atria velum/candida purpureum simulatas inficit umbras” (“[just as] when a purple curtain drawn over a marble hall colours it with false shadows” PL) (Book X: 595-96).
Arthur Golding’s version runs:
“A redness mixt with whyght uppon her tender body cam,
As when a scarlet curtaine streynd ageinst a playstred wall
Dooth cast like shadowe, making it seeme ruddye therewith all.” (LE 237). Ovid: Atalanta.
In this passage, Hippomenes is watching Atalanta run naked in a race to the death against a marriage suitor. Whereas before the race H had been critical, even indignant at this practice, while gazing at her body move before him, and observing its changes of hues and colours in the light, he turns into a believer. This moment is the point when he falls in love with Atalanta, deciding to race and win her for himself.
- Lamplight at Buovilla – According to his vida, Arnaut was in love with the wife of Guillem de Bouvila (C VII: n. 30; Chabaneau 13-14). Though the author of Arnaut’s vida says he was unsuccessful in seducing her, Pound imagines him with his lady in a room of the chateau, gazing at her naked body move against the light as Hippomenes had gazed at Atalanta.
- e quel remir – Prov. “that I may gaze on her.” From Arnaut Daniel’s poem “Doutz brais e critz.” Arnaut’s lines: “Quel seu bel cors baisan rizen descobra/ E quel remir contral lum de la lampa” are rendered literally: “that kissing and laughing I should uncover her pretty body and that I should gaze at it against the light of the lamp” (Makin 180). Pound brought together Ovid’s description of Atalanta’s flight and Arnaut’s “e quel remir” in his Arnaut essay:
“But no man in Provençal has written as he writes in Doutz brais: ‘E quel remir’ and the rest of it, though Ovid, where he recounts Atalanta’s flight from Hippomenes in the tenth book, had written:
cum super astria velum
Candida purpureum simulatas inficit umbras.” (LE 111)
Pound translated “Doutz brais e critz” as “Glamour and Indigo” and published it in his article “Arnaut Daniel” in 1920. There, he translated the passage: "Yes, that she kiss me in the half-light, leaning/ To me, and laugh and strip and stand forth in the lustre/ Where lamp-light with light limb but half engages" (LE 136).
- Nicea – Gr. Nicaea or Nikaia, nymph who was a devotee of Artemis but who was raped by Dionysus in her sleep. After the rape, seeing that she was forever changed and never again a virgin, she gave birth and then killed herself. Theoi: Nikaia. Nicaea’s fate rhymes with both that of Tyro and of Ione. In Canto II, Pound imagines Tyro perishing under a wall of water while being embraced by the god. Pound compared Ione to Nicaea in “Dance Figure”: “O Nathat-Ikanaie, ‘Tree-at-the-river.’” Poems.
- moved before me – Possibly a vision of Ione inspired by Ovid and Arnaut.
In the description he provides, Kaczynski mentions that “her [Ione’s] body was as gaunt and cadaverous, and the pale powders she wore made her anaemic skin even more pallid.” (223). But in his vision, or memory, Pound sees her skin with a “tropic” hue, like that of Atalanta and of Arnaut’s lady.
- sham Mycenian / “Toc” sphinxes – “toc” F. sham. See n.19.
- voi che siete in piccioletta barca– Dante’s address to the reader in Paradiso: II: 1-7:
O voi che siete in piccioletta barca,
desiderosi d'ascoltar, seguiti
dietro al mio legno che cantando varca,
tornate a riveder li vostri liti:
non vi mettete in pelago, ché forse,
perdendo me, rimarreste smarriti.
All you who in your wish to hear my words
have followed thus far in your little boat
behind my ship that singing sails these waters,
go back now while you still can see your shores;
do not attempt the deep; it well could be
that losing me, you would be lost yourselves.
Pound has recourse to this address often in the cantos (93/651; 109/794).
- Dido – Queen of Carthage and an important character in Virgil’s Aeneid. Her first husband, Sicheus, murdered by her brother out of greed, had been her first love. When Aeneas and his crew are thrown on the shores of Carthage, the hero wins her heart by telling her the tragedy of Troy. A new passion is inflamed on the ruins of the old. But the story of Troy is a Sirens’ song that will end in calamity. When Aeneas leaves her to continue his journey to Italy, his promised land, Dido kills herself out of grief. (Virgil Aeneid Book IV: 1-31).
In the canto, Pound suggests a situation quite opposite to that in Vergil: the old suffering is too strong and drowns out the possibility of a new love. This happens to be Ione’s case. In her suicide note to the police, she blamed her marriage for her death. To her former husband, she sent a note saying “You have killed me” (Kaczynski 257).
- shell of speech – a phrase inspired by Remy de Gourmont, “shells” are received ideas generally accepted without question or debate.
Referring to the differences between the artist and his audience, Pound remarks: “When I find people ridiculing the new arts, […] I think it is only because they do not know what thought is like, and that they are familiar only with argument and gibe and opinion. That is to say they can only enjoy what they have been brought up to consider enjoyable, or what some essayist has talked about in mellifluous phrases. They think only “the shells of thought,” as De Gourmont calls them; the thoughts that have been already thought out by others” (“Vorticism” in G-B 87; P&P I: 275-85).
- The live man, out of lands and prisons/shakes the dry pods – Pound identifies the “live man” in the margins of this canto in the 1925 edition. He has Desmond Fitzgerald (1890-1947) in mind, an Irish poet who had ties both to Yeats and the imagists. Pound mentions his acquaintance with Fitzgerald to his father as early as 2 August 1909 (L/HP 179).
Fitzgerald was both a poet and an active revolutionary in the Irish cause. He was jailed in 1915-16 for his nationalist politics. Once released, he trained volunteers to prepare for the Easter Rising of 1916 and participated in the defense of the General Post Office in Dublin. Arrested again in May 1916, he was condemned to ten years’ penal servitude, but released on the conclusion of the treaty with England. He was made Sinn Fein Minister of Publicity in April 1919: “FitzGerald’s role was to counter British propaganda and use his contacts in London to forge channels to journalists from overseas and secure a republican narrative. He was by now wanted again for sedition and treason, but used literary contacts in London to make overtures to the foreign press” (Vulliamy, 10; See also C VII: n. 43). Pound sees him as a new Lorenzino, who sacrifices his life to the republican ideal. See following note.
- Lorenzaccio – I. “The bad Lorenzo”: Lorenzino de Medici (1514-1548), cousin of Alessandro de Medici, Duke of Florence (See OCCEP V: 42). Lorenzino declared that he assassinated his cousin to create a revolution in Florence and turn the tide of history towards a republican government in the city. Pound interprets his act as the attempt of a “live” man to stir a society which was exhausted, passive, and fatalistic. The murder had been foretold to Alessandro who chose not to take any action and await his fate. Pound presents him as a “watcher” with “tall indifference,” a “living shell,” a “dry phantom.”
- Ma se morisse!/Credesse caduto da se – I. “If he died/ Believing he fell by accident.” Part of Varchi’s narrative of Lorenzino’s murder of Alessandro: “one night he was tempted to push him from a wall, but feared he might not die, or that, even if he died, people would have believed he had fallen accidentally, on his own” (See also OCCEP V: n.61). Varchi on Lorenzaccio.
- E biondo – Obizzo II d’Este (1247-1293) Duke of Ferrara whom Dante places in the Inferno in the river of blood reserved for tyrants, next to Ezzelino da Romano, Cunizza’s brother. Obizzo was murdered by his own son and Pound implies here a comparison with Alessandro’s passivity.
E quella fronte c'ha 'l pel così nero,
è Azzolino; e quell'altro ch'è biondo,
è Opizzo da Esti, il qual per vero
fu spento dal figliastro sù nel mondo".
And there, that forehead smeared with coal-black hair,
is Azzolino; the other one, the blond,
Opizzo d’Esti, who and this is true,
was killed by his own stepson in your world. (Inferno XII: 109-112).