Saturday, 27 June 2009

The Day the Music Died

Here is William Ewart Gladstone speaking into a phonograph, 1888.

And here is Ezra Pound reciting the Usura canto

When did that music die? I have heard recordings of EP reciting his poetry which sound like arias. Recorded in St Elizabeth's in the 1950s and maybe the students making the recordings thought him mad. Now we must all learn to speak in monotone and not wave our hands around except as Health'n'Safety guidelines allow.

In meiner Heimat

where the dead walked

and the living were made of cardboard.


Papiols said...

I submit it's not possible to recite (i.e., snarl) this poem aloud without getting pissed off. Remarkable work.

By some accounts Pound was more political prisoner than patient.


LOQUITUR: En Bertans de Born. Dante Alighieri put this man in hell
for that he was a stirrer up of strife. Eccovi! Judge ye! Have I dug
him up again? The scene is at his castle, Altaforte. ``Papiols'' is his
jongleur. ``The Leopard,'' the device of Richard Coeur de Lion.


Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
You whoreson dog, Papiols, come! Let's to music!
I have no life save when the swords clash.
But ah! when I see the standards gold, vair, purple, opposing
And the broad fields beneath them turn crimson,
Then howl I my heart nigh mad with rejoicing.


In hot summer I have great rejoicing
When the tempests kill the earth's foul peace,
And the lightning from black heav'n flash crimson,
And the fierce thunders roar me their music
And the winds shriek through the clouds mad, opposing,
And through all the riven skies God's swords clash.


Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
And the shrill neighs of destriers in battle rejoicing,
Spiked breast to spiked breat opposing!
Better one hour's stour than a year's peace
With fat boards, bawds, wine and frail music!
Bah! there's no wine like the blood's crimson!


And I love to see the sun rise blood-crimson.
And I watch his spears through the dark clash
And it fills all my heart with rejoicing
And pries wide my mouth with fast music
When I see him so scorn and defy peace,
His long might 'gainst all darkness opposing.


The man who fears war and squats opposing
My words for stour, hath no blood of crimson
But is fit only to rot in womanish peace
Far from where worth's won and the swords clash
For the death of such sluts I go rejoicing;
Yea, I fill all the air with my music.


Papiols, Papiols, to the music!
There's no sound like to swords swords opposing,
No cry like the battle's rejoicing
When our elbows and swords drip the crimson
And our charges 'gainst ``The Leopard's'' rush clash.
May God damn for ever all who cry ``Peace!''


And let the music of the swords make them crimson!
Hell grant soon we hear again the swords clash!
Hell blot black for always the thought ``Peace!''

Anonymous said...

But . . . not a big fan of the antisemitic connotations, as wonderful as the Usura canto is. Pound's decrying interest as a Jewish invention was (a) incorrect as a point of historical fact (our friend Gilgamesh would have paid interest); and (b) as dopey and self-defeating as the Nazis decrying the "Jewish physics." Turned out the Jewish physics was able to release an awful lot of energy ex nihilo, hmm?

Chertiozhnik, it occurs to me that parsing out EP's complexity as artist/person/political figure is a thinking person's analog to the morons trying to make sense out of Michael Jackson's hideous legacy.

Ezra Pound -- now here was a complicated person worthy of some thought. But folks prefer the pederast with a sequined glove and a son named Prince Michael I, AKA Blanket (I shit you not). Thanks for the great post.

Chertiozhnik said...

"it occurs to me that parsing out EP's complexity as artist/person/political figure is a thinking person's analog to the morons trying to make sense out of Michael Jackson's hideous legacy."

Mr. A: I don't understand how EP could have published the several anti-Semitic cantos (I mean the ranty toiletty bloggiest-of-the-bloggy ones) beside the best of his writing (the Usury canto amongst them, not I think anti-Semitic). Well, I just don't understand this scale of misjudgement, but then I have never had remotely enough talent to be in a position to have made such a misjudgement.

Mr Jackson was IMHO quite a good pop diva, a kind of ex-HRH Diana with tunes, his legacy will probably be an affirmation of a dead culture, the deadness of which EP popinted out a while ago.

Papiols: I have heard a recording of Ez singing this, it is impossible to sit quietly and listen.

Klatuu o embuçado said...

He was indeed a political prisoner!

Klatuu o embuçado said...

... and Jackson was also a pedophile that avoid prison by paying...

Chertiozhnik said...

He was lucky not to be hanged... as was MJ probably.

Klatuu o embuçado said...

Media make USA seem a madhouse abroad!