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Monday, 16 August 2010

Ezra Pound: The black panther lies under his rose-tree



Black Leopard (Panthera pardus): photo by Qilinmon, 2007

The black panther lies under his rose-tree.
J'ai pitié des autres.
...........Pas assez! Pas assez!

For me nothing. But that the child
.....walk in peace in her basilica,

the light there almost solid.

File:Adansonia grandidieri04.jpg

Grandidier's Baobab (Adansonia grandidieri) near Morondava, Madgascar: photo by Bernard Gagnon, 2007

Ezra Pound, from Canto XCIII (1954) in Section: Rock-Drill De Los Cantares LXXXV-XCV (1955)


Curtis Roberts said...

Like the light, this is so solid on the page. It's other things also, but my initial impression is that it's so solid, so alive.

TC said...

That's how it feels to me too, Curtis.

Pound perhaps the caged panther in his small garden at the federal asylum for the criminally insane. Yet the garden seems curiously lit from within, regardless or perhaps even because of the distance between the real literal and the imagined paradisal situations.

Here, as you suggest, lit by life and by compassion.

Ed Baker said...

St. Elezabeth's here in D.C.

I do believe that Charles Olson who live not too far from our grocery store visited Pound ... often..

My first "teacher" , Rudd Fleming, also frequently visited EP in fact they co-wrote a play or two together.

the "Gorilla Cage" was at Pisa where he was first arrested.. Pound describes it as
"about 6 x 6 1/2 feet"

later in D.C. at his trial for treason:

as Harry Meacham, in his The Caged Panther puts it:

"{...}, and in three minuets the jury found him of unsound mind and he was placed in the criminal lunatic ward of St. Elizabeths in Washington, D.C." (1946).

Pound was at St.Elizabeths
for about 12 years...

if he wasn't crazy before he got there he surely was after 12 years with those criminally insane...

I was in high school when he got out...elementary school whe he went in


growing up my parents used to say things like:

"if you don't straighten-out RIGHT NOW where going to send you off to St. Elizabeths!"

billymills said...

The late Cantos are saturated with light; it is their element. EP was wrong about so many things, but what matter when he could write like this?



Thanks for this "radiant . . . gist", a pleasure to find it, Pound still casting his light, the light here too "almost solid". . . .


light coming into fog against invisible
top of ridge, black of leaves on branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

is what is to be said, shows
itself as that presence

stopped, in those looking on
an example, which makes

grey-white of fog reflected in channel,
wingspan of gull gliding over sandspit

John B-R said...

billymills, I do think Pound's wrongs matter, they matter a lot, but they don't cancel this poem, any more than Heidegger's Nazism cancels what's of value in his philosophy, etc etc etc.

My point is that everything matters, and nothing cancels anything.

Of course, I believe you were speaking rhetorically ... so I probably needn't have written this ...

TC said...

Billy, Steve, yes, the light, solid.

John, Oh my, yet again with that stupendous door-stopper Heidegger being flung as the first stone. Heidegger and E.P. have about as much in common as yours truly and Angelina Jolie. Let he who is without wrong...

As Ed points out, St Elizabeths was anyway a punishment that should have satisfied the legions of Judge Judys.

Ed Baker said...

Heidegger? Speaking of Heidegger:

just the other day I was reading
with my eyes/mind/mouth wide-open:

Martin Heidegger's:

Dialogue On Language
between a Japanese and an Inquirer

that opens the book: On The Way To Language:
WOW! WAS I was struck... STRUCK I TELL YOU S T R U C H!

;seemingly it seems that Everybody-and-their-Mother went East to Kyoto! to learn how to drink tea, use a brush, mix sumi-ink, and marry
young Japanese Muses ....

and, they each everyone of them found that Kyoto Dragon...
(dialogue in this book begins

"between a Japanese and an Inquirer" :

"I: And so, that temple grove remains a fitting place for him (Count Shuzo Kuki) who died early.

"J: All his reflection was devoted to what the Japanese call 'Iki'.

"I: In my dialogues with Kuki, I never had more than a distant inkling of what that word meant.

" [...]."

this "gem" was translated by Peter Hertz in 1971 and PUBLISHED as a paper-back by Harper Row in 1982!

notice how precisely EVERY word has been made into English Language...

:what DOES this have to do with Ezra Pound?
:that Black Panther?

I just don't know.

(that last section re:

"a discussion on Georg Trakl's Poetic Woks"

and, do notice the preciseness of using connective "on" rather than the expected word "of'


OH the preceding section's title is (dig it!):


Elmo St. Rose said...

I was going to ask TC if anyone
but Hugh Kenner read Pound's atleast I have an
answer...Hugh Kenner is dead so
that leaves??

Perhaps the general overwhelmed
the Pound's
adoption of fascism in terms of
the effects on the ground

Archibald MacLeish got him out...
recommend TC's account of Olson's
relationship with Pound to understand...the possibility of
madness rather than politics.

As for the's
a paraphrase from Maimonides that
might be apt about the cougar
encounters in California...

"When a wild beast enters a is a visitation"

or John Muir "In wilderness is the
preservation of the world"

Tyger Tyger
Burning Bright
Who Framed Thy
Fearful Symmetry Blake of course

Ed Baker said...

Rudd Fleming did about the most to get pound out...

read Carlo's "take" on Rudd.

I took a "Creative Writing" class with Rudd in about 1965..

at that time maybe the course started with about 25 people... by the third class it was down to maybe 7!

a couple of us would find our way to his office

read poems we were working

sometimes we would go over to his and Polly's home on and "hang out" and read. some times some one like Howard Nemrov would be there

after many years passed I looked in the telephone book and there listed "Rudd Fleming"

so I called... Polly answered (WOW!)

Rudd had died. I said : "this is Ed Baker, remember me?"

"Oh yes, Rudd spoke of you often. Do come over...and bring some poems. And bring Ronnie (Wilson) with you."

check out the Liam Rector "stuff" at the tail of Carlo's article..

Liam, as I recall, went to Hopkins with me... I recall we exchanged a cpl of emails around 2,000

Carlo still around here I visited him at his place down the way from me about 3 miles last year he and his wife's house filled with 50,000 + books he sells them...

Olson sat on one of Polly's "priceless" chairs and broke the chair... pissed her off, truly.... I was told.

TC said...

It's always possible someone would wish to address the lines posted.

In addition to their resonance with other images in a passage which concerns compassion, the lines: "...for me nothing. But that the child/ walk in peace in her basilica" perhaps have personal referential content for the poet.

The passage seems, among other things, to hint of the confusion and vulnerability of a poet who would always be shy of speaking his emotions directly in "public".

In her memoir Discretions Pound's daughter Mary de Rachewiltz touches upon her father's reticence in speaking of private feelings, pointing out that in the rare instances when this kind of revelation does occur in the Cantos, it is most often expressed indirectly, through the medium of another language, French (as here), Greek, etc.

The immediate reference in Canto XCIII is to a visit by his daughter, her husband and their children to Washington in 1953. Their purpose was to try to get him out of the federal insane asylum. But, as Mary recalls in her memoir, her father did not want to discuss his own difficult situation, instead deflecting the conversation to her efforts to restore a derelict castle in the Dolomites:

"'Thank God you have taken time to produce a family and lead a sane life.' And it never bored him to listen to accounts of Boris and the children and of our efforts with the castle. But whenever I tried to lead the conversation back to 'What can we do to get you out of here?' he became tense and impatient: 'All you can do is plant a little decency in Brunnenberg'".

TC said...

Pound's admonition to his daughter re. "planting" brings back some memories and puts me in mind also of the physical basis of EP/big cat connection.

In 1963 it came to pass that I was enlisted, in the role of volunteer emissary from a collector/curator, Jim Ede, to travel to that little castle in the Dolomites, to which E.P. had repaired for a while after his liberation from St Elizabeths. My mission was to request that Henri Gaudier-Brzeska's Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound, in E.P.'s possession since its commissioned creation in 1914 by the doomed young sculptor (who shortly after creating it went off to die in the trenches of France), be donated to the Tate Gallery.

Once I had scaled the Tyrolean Alp upon which the little renovated castle perched, I was greeted by Mary, and two things quickly became apparent.

First, Mary looked very much like her father; the features were feline, even leonine; I was reminded of the comment of the poet Herbert Read, upon meeting Pound in London in 1915 (E.P. was then thirty), that he gave the powerful impression of "an agile lynx".

Second, the Hieratic Head, which had that same strong leonine character, had been quite literally "planted" -- there on the grounds, as a sort of wonderfully commanding white marble garden ornament, looking out over a vast valley that stretched halfway to Innsbruck.

A young fool had just arrived from nowhere asking that it be dug up and carted away.

Mary was extremely polite, if understandably the slightest bit brusque at first, in declining. She even provided tea and biscuits. It had been a long hike up that mountain.

(The alpine "basilica" by the way had proven too cold and draughty for the by then unwell and largely silent old man, who was off in Venice at that point, chez Olga Rudge.)

billymills said...

Exactly, Tom, and hence to "thy quiet house" in Drafts and Fragments. And isn't the panther a memory of Gaudier-Brzeska? Not to mention Ovid and:

The black panther treads at my side,
And above my fingers
There float the petal-like flames.

TC said...

Thank you Billy, and Yes, the black panther, the pard and the lynx, protective figures, from the Ovidian beginnings, all through those dark woods of the intervening years.

One recalls the Lynx Chorus of LXXIX, writ in Pisa, mixing into the ritual his black fellow inmates ("O Lynx, wake Silenus and Casey...").

And in LXXVI, earlier on from inside the wire of the camp, the paradisal memory of the cliffs of Sant' Ambrogio,

ac ferae familiares
the gemmed field a destra with fawn, with panther...

And then, in the last bit writ at Pisa (LXXXIV), the "objective correlative" of his restless prison camp doldrums,

and the he leopard lay on his back playing with straw in sheer boredom,
(Memoirs of the Roman Zoo)

I speculate that he had never "realistically" expected a basilica at Brunnenburg, so cannot have been too surprised not to find it. The nature temples, votive altars and other sacred spaces of the poem, the sanctuaries and refuges, with their panther and lynx guardians, had surely always existed as symbolic templates solely in his imagination, in any case. Wonderful to consider the things that came forth out of that precinct. By force, initially, of invention, but later perhaps of desire in desperation, and need?

And thank you Billy, yet again, for evoking the late "quiet house" at Torcello (from CX), very close to the spot where he'd really discovered poetry in himself, in 1906...

Hast'ou seen the boat's wake on sea-wall,
how crests it?
What panache?
paw-flap, wave-tap,
that is gaiety...


TC said...

A Gaudier-Brzeska Cat, for Billy Mills

billymills said...

And the panther drawing in Kenner's Pound Era, let's not forget.

Ed Baker said...

thanks for 'dipping in' to autobiography/membrances.


this 'Piss-Ant" realy really appreciates it.

I was (yes I was) during my second or third period of "formative" years say 1960 -1974

meeting many many many of (what are now considered) our Immortals..

and, in about 1977 I 100 % dropped out...(dropped back in in 1999) maybe I got scarred via meeting and schmoozing and sending of poems to the Likes of Cage, Mac Low, Corman, Bill Stafford,

etc etc etc..

sort of took the same road that Ezra Pound's daughter, Mary did which he offered (as you quote):

"'Thank God you have taken time to produce a family and lead a sane life.'

I feel like.... who wrote it? Washington Irving...
a combine of
Rip van Winkle and the Headless Horseman..

Googeling around for information on/about what transpired during the years 1975 and 2,001

just doesn't 'cut it'


like Ed Mund Jabes needed "books"

I need/want

The Book of What It Is I Missed

-more or less


I am now really "digging" your ... comment stream here... especially now that Billy Collins (who he? I've heard the name...and I think that he and I [...], but, I'm not sure) has entered the seen (sic)..

Hugh Kenner died? When did this happen?

In 1974, John Martin rejected (because he had too many things going) a book of mine saying:

Dear Ed,

sorry that we cannot {..}. Would be interested in seeing your next book."

the next book did come
... published in 2002!

point here?

you doing your own Biography? Much needed these days.

Ed Baker said...

for one
am really appreciating your
autobiographical "stuff"

as I dropped out 1975 through 2,001... TOTALLY
for same reasoning that Ezra Pound says to his daughter...

"'Thank God you have taken time to produce a family and lead a sane life.'

... Ezra Pound wasn't crazy... this "piss-ant" can attest to that!

do you know if EP knew
Louis Aragon? or vice-eh-versuh?

you doing your own autobiography?

Ed Baker said...

more of "drivvell" from me

however, drivelling has never detered me.. then as now. And, you write:

"Wonderful to consider the things that came forth out of that precinct. By force, initially, of invention, but later perhaps of desire in desperation, and need?"


Imagination... as Einstein said:

"Imagination is more important than knowledge"

TC said...


Your Olson chair-busting anecdote puts me in mind of a woman interviewee who told me a similar story when talking about Charles, and for that matter, something tells me these were not "isolated incidents"...

and er uh, "our" Billy here is, erm, not our "other" friend Billy Collins but the highly esteemed Billy Mills, who should be Ireland's poet laureate...

and Billy,

I will see your panther and raise with a jaguar, a puma, a leopard and "...out of nothing, a breathing..."



Great story, hiking up to "that little castle in the Dolomites" ---- thanks for that and all else. . . .

Ed Baker said...

well.. at least I didn't confuse 'em with either Haley and John Mills

or witH

The Mills Brothers...

best get me to Google and Wikipedia to clear things up!
:find out how to lower my blood-pressure...
the beer and humus just isn't doing it...

I am (now) thinking:

the problem is the humus!

however 140/92 has for the past 50 years been my normal so ....

billymills said...

A relief, Ed, a relief.

Ed Baker said...


(I get soooo excited...)


I just discovered DISCOVERED:

Katue Kitasono

and since we got the Dynamic Duo here-in this (sort of) discussion..

Now we got us a TRIPLE PLAY:


maybe even an holy trinity.

as I recall I read somewhere that Pound in about April 19, 1936 said:

"If you're going to write Modern English Poetry you had best learn Japanese."

so now I am off to track down who VOU Group is/was...

geeze here now 70 years and I am yet a fucking baby!