Sunday, March 29, 2015

Striking Attitudes

Read a fair amount of early Pound last week in KL - from the handsomely assembled Library of America Poems and Translations. It contains almost everything except The Cantos. Struck by how good the early poems sound, once you get past the grating archaisms. Also struck by how, from the very beginning, Pound's voice, or any voice he adopts, is essentially an attitudinising one. It's not an attractive quality here, or in the later work, but it can be compelling.

Pound junior loves to show off, as, of course, does Pound senior. The following are all from a single poem, and four of them feature in a single section of ten lines: mortescent; obliviate; marcescent; marasmic; antepast; anthelion. Blimey! Talk about needing to get the dictionary out! (Not that that does a great deal of good. I still haven't tracked down mortescent anywhere - though it's entirely obvious in context what it means: If any flower mortescent lay... Very pretty in its own way, if you like that sort of thing.)

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