“Passages from the Opening Address in a Long Poem”
(Future, February 1918)
Ghosts move about me patched with histories.
You had your business: to set out so much thought,
So much emotion, and call the lot “Sordello.”
Worth the evasion, the setting figures up
And breathing life upon them.
Has it a place in music? And your: “Appear Verona!”?
I walk the airy street,
See the small cobbles flare with the poppy spoil.
‘Tis your “Great Day,” the Corpus Domini,
And all my chosen and peninsular village
Has spread this scarlet blaze upon its lane,
Oh, before I was up, - with poppy-flowers.
Mid-June, and up and out to the half ruined chapel,
Not the old place at the height of the rocks
But that splay barn-like church, the Renaissance
Had never quite got into trim again.
As well begin here, here began Catullus:
“Home to sweet rest, and to the waves deep laughter,”
The laugh they wake amid the border rushes.
This is our home, the trees are full of laughter,
And the storms laugh loud, breaking the riven waves
On square-shaled rocks, and here the sunlight
Glints on the shaken waters, and the rain
Comes forth with delicate tread, walking from Isola Garda,
Lo soleils plovil.
It is the sun rains, and a spatter of fire
Darts from the “Lydian” ripples, lacus undae,
And the place is full of spirits, not lemures,
Not dark and shadow-wet ghosts, but ancient living,
Wood-white, smooth as the inner-bark, and firm of aspect
And all a-gleam with colour?
But coloured like the lake and olive leaves,
GLAUKOPOS, clothed like the poppies, wearing golden greaves,
Light on the air. Are they Etruscan gods?
The air is solid sunlight, apricus.
Sun-fed we dwell there (we in England now)
For Sirmio serves my whim, better than Asolo,
Yours and unseen. Your palace step?
My stone seat was the Dogana’s vulgarest curb
And there were not “those girls,” there was one flare,
One face, ‘twas all I ever saw, but it was real ...
And I can no more say what shape it was ...
But she was young, too young.
True, it was Venice,
And at Florian’s under the North arcade
I have seen other faces and had my rolls for breakfast,
Drifted at night and seen the lit, gilt cross-beams
Glare from the Morosini.
And for what it’s worth
I have my background; and you had your background,
Watched “the soul,” Sordello’s soul, flare up
And lap up life, and leap “to th’ Empyrean”;
* * * *
Gods float in the azure air,
Bright gods and Tuscan, back before dew was shed;
It is a world like Puvis’?
Never so pale, my friend,
‘Tis the first light - not half-light - Panisks
And oak-girls and the Maelids have all the wood;
Our olive Sirmio
Lies in its burnished mirror, and the Mounts Balde and Riva
Are alive with song, and all the leaves are full of voices.
“Non è fuggi.”
“It is not gone.” Metastasio
Is right, we have that world about us.
And the clouds bowe above the lake, and there are folk upon them
Going their windy ways, moving by Riva,
By the western shore, far as Lonato,
And the water is full of silvery almond-white swimmers,
The silvery water glazes the upturned nipple.
Pound, Ezra. “Passages from the Opening Address in a Long Poem.” In Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose: Contributions to Periodicals. Eds. Lea Baechler, A. Walton Litz and James Longenbach. Vol. 2. New York: Garland, 1991. 220-21.
Pound, Ezra. Appendix A. The Future Cantos. In The Genesis of Ezra Pound’s Cantos, by Ron Bush. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. 301-303.
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