Article Index

 

CANTO LVI

 

 

 genghis khan

  

LVI. 

Ghengis 1206

Kublai 1260

Twentieth Dynasty YUEN (Mongol)

Lady Ouang Chi

HONG VOU died 1399

Twenty-first Dynasty MING 1368

 Ezra Pound The Cantos New York: New Directions, 1998. 255

 

The Mongols take over in canto 56 for an interval of 160 years. The terrible Ghengis Khan came in having heard something of ‘alphabets, morals, mores’, and being surprised to learn that it was more profitable to tax his new subjects than to exterminate them in his usual fashion; but Kublai Khan, who extended Mongol domination over all China ‘was a buggar for taxes’ and his finance minister was ‘stinking with graft’; and though Gin Tsong honoured Kung with the rites ‘his son died of assassins’. Through the main part of this canto the movement is unsettled, scherzo-like, casting rapidly back and forth between occupying Mongol and weak Sung, touching on wars, taxes, and granaries, on bandits, pirates–and a treatise for the cultivation of silk-worms. Under the decadent last of these Mongols there were again ‘At court, eunuchs and grafters / among mongols no man trusted other’, and that dynasty fell in confusion ‘from losing the law of Chung Ni (Confucius)’. This time it was the son of a poor labourer, Hong Vou, who rose up to defeat the failing rulers and restore order in the empire. ‘Once again war is over. Go talk to the savants,’ he said, under the ideograms naming Yao, Chun, [Han], and Chou. 

David Moody, Ezra Pound: Poet II: 280

 

RELATED CANTOS

CANTO XVIII [Kublai Khan’s bark money and the conquest of China]

CANTO LIII [the standard of virtue: the ancient emperors, the Chou dynasty and Confucius]

 

A Draft of XXX Cantos

ship4 for c1

Eleven New Cantos

rsz guido cavalcanti