Saturday, April 27, 2013

NPM: Ezra Pound

Image stol'n from Shanghai Daily Photo.

Order of business #1: I AM STILL HUNGRY FOR  FROGS. Give me your frogs. Post them or email them (beechleavesold(at) You give me frogs. I give you granola. And love.

Order of business #2: NATIONAL POETRY  MONTH YEAH YEAH YEAH. We're on the last stretch. We've mentioned and quoted poet Ezra Pound here and there in the past, but I don't think we've ever glanced at his verse.

Say what you may about his arrogance or his odious political associations. I read his poetry as an assertion that the written word, standing alone, must yet have some unvitiated strength remaining and is still worth the the headaches of fidelity.

In a Station of the Metro
Ezra Pound  (1885 - 1972)

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.

A Pact

I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has a pig-headed father;
I am old enough now to make friends.
It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root
Let there be commerce between us.


As cool as the pale wet leaves
                of lily-of-the-valley
She lay beside me in the dawn.

The Tea Shop

The girl in the tea shop
     Is not so beautiful as she was,
The August has worn against her.
She does not get up the stairs so eagerly;
Yes, she will also turn middle-aged,
And the glow of youth that she spread about us
     As she brought us our muffins
Will be spread about us no longer.
     She also will turn middle-aged.

Erat Hora

"Thank you, whatever comes." And then she turned
And, as the ray of sun hanging flowers
Fades when the wind hath lifted them aside,
Went swiftly from me. Nay, whatever comes
One hour was sunlit and the most high gods
May not make boast of any better thing
Than to have watched that hour as it passed.

The Lake Isle

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the little bright boxes
          piled up neatly upon the shelves
And the loose fragrant cavendish
          and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
          loose under he bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales not too greasy,
And the whores dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
          or install me in any profession
Save this damn'd profession of writing,
          where one needs one's brains all the time.


  1. Ezra is a prime example I give of having to disconnect the art from the man. It's too bad he was such a horrible human being, because he was one of the greatest modern poets to ever live.

    1. I'm not too familiar with his autobiography, but from what I've gleaned, World War I and its implications were profoundly disturbing to him, intellectually, spiritually, etc. Trauma makes one do curious things -- up to and including throwing in one's lot with fascists.

      (Of course, that still doesn't excuse the antisemitism.)


    2. Got a day off tomorrow, I'll see what I can whip up. Not that I've ever written a good haiku in my life, of course.