CANTO V

 

 

 

rsz titian varchi

Titian. Benedetto Varchi, 1540.

Once in a lifetime [...] a man may try-without rhetoric, without hankering after grandiose utterance-to straighten out his ideas on history, the rise of nations, the developments and atrophies of civilization, and all these and other things soiled by the clichés of politicians, Fourth of July orators, Orleanists, Claudelists, etc. (including social and religious instructors). [...]

The bulk of our civilisation is very probably due to the Roman Empire, but from the death of Septimus Severus (A.D. 211) to the abdication of Diocletian (A.D. 305) there were 19 emperors, and only one died comfortably in his bed, after a reign of two years.

Any historical concept and any sociologial deduction from history must assemble a great number of such violently contrasted facts, if it is to be valid. It must not be a simple paradox, or a simple opposition of two terms. [...]

Out of the welter I get perhaps only an increasing hatred of violence, an increasing contempt for destruction. I would not, in the present state of my sensibility, I would not destroy even the Albert Memorial.

Ezra Pound. "Pastiche: A Regional" (VII). The New Age XXV.17 (21 August 1919): 284. P&P III:322-323.