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Friday, 7 December 2012

Ezra Pound: Lynx

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Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx): photo by Bernard Landgraf, 9 July 2005

..........O lynx, my love, my lovely lynx,
..........Keep watch over my wine pot,
..........Guard close my mountain still
..........Till the god  come into this whiskey.
.....Manitou, god of lynxes, remember our corn.

. . .

Maelid and bassarid among lynxes; many? There are more under the oak trees,
We are here waiting the sun-rise
......and the next sunrise
For three nights amid lynxes. For three nights
......of the oak-wood
and the vines are thick in their branches vine lacking flower,
no lynx lacking a flower rope Maelid minus a wine jar
this forest is named Melagrana

....................O lynx, keep the edge on my cider
....................Keep it clear without cloud

We have lain here amid kalicanthus and sword-flower
......The heliads are caught in wild rose vine
The smell of pine mingles with wild rose leaves
....................O lynx, be many
....................of spotted fur and sharp ears.
....................O lynx, have your eyes gone yellow,
....................with spotted fur and sharp ears?


Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx) in Numedal Zoo
: photo by Andreas Tille, 22 July 2003

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Eurasian Lynx (Lynx lynx),
Skåne Zoo, near Höör, Scania, southern Sweden: photo by David Castor, 16 July 2009

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Vigilant lynx (Lynx lynx), Schönbrunn Zoo, Vienna: photo by mpiet, 25 October 2004

Ezra Pound: from Canto LXXIX, c. September 1945, in The Pisan Cantos, 1953

Sacred to the wine-god Dionysus and traditional emblem of keen-sightedness, the lynx figured in the feline mythology Pound shared with his wife, Dorothy, for whose birthday (September 14) he composed the choruses of this Canto.

Richard Sieburth, editorial note on Canto LXXIX in Ezra Pound: The Pisan Cantos, 2003

... the poet waking at dawn in the prison camp... Pound is not alluding to any particular source [in his morning chant], but singing his own chant in the vestiges of a mythic language which, however fragmentary and opaque its remnants, can still serve him to express something not thought but felt and desired. He consecrates the day, composing an impromptu homage out of rumors of the old rituals of time, wine, and love, which once bound people to each other and to nature. The exoticism is the crux, for what strikes us most forcibly in this incantation, after its strange beauty, is how unsharable it is. The poet's morning rites allude to an ancient past when the mysteries of life and death were celebrated collectively in rituals that once served to "hold the whole human race together" ... yet their performance there in the prison camp is irremediably solitary.

...Yet we also come to see that this exoticism is not so much a cause of the poet's solipsism as a symbolic mitigation of it. Every utterance is a social act, and in improvising his hymn from a ghostly memory of a lost past, Pound... takes us into the wilds of his mind only to remind us of a time when such a celebration did "hold the whole human race together"...

Christine Froula, editorial note on Canto LXXIX in A Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Poems, 1983


Susan Kay Anderson said...

pine smells rose smells with lynx
breathe into out

Hazen said...

"Mankind's true moral test, its fundamental test (which lies deeply buried from view), consists of its attitude towards those who are at its mercy: animals. And in this respect mankind has suffered a fundamental debacle, a debacle so fundamental that all others stem from it." — Milan Kundera

TC said...

EP possessed a marked affinity with cats. Indeed in his youth a certain feline physical resemblance was remarked by Wyndham Lewis and others; the high cheekbones in particular creating a strong catlike look. This was brought out in the great marble "Hieratic Head" done by his young sculptor friend Henri Gaudier. I saw this head planted on a hill looking out from the mountaintop where after his return from the long stay in the American madhouse the poet had gone to live with his daughter Maria (Mary) and her husband at Merano. And indeed when Maria stuck her head out a tower window of the old castle on the hill to greet me, I was struck by that feline bone structure in the face, inherited from her father. (Maria's mother was Olga Rudge, the American musician.)

At St Elizabeths in 1946 EP told a visiting Charles Olson that he was of the "cat family".

While living in Rapallo in the 1930s he quietly assumed the care of a great flock of stray cats. One room of the hotel where he lived looked out over the slanting corrugated-tile roof of a lower storey; the local cat pack, said to number some two dozen, congregated patiently there at mealtimes, waiting for him to feed them.

A visitor, Brigit Patmore, recalled:

"I had never realized how much Ezra cared for cats, but *they* knew -- those multi-coloured ravenous Italian cats, tortoisesshell, white, tabby, black and in-between mixtures... Each seemed to have its own position and there was no quarreling. But this palpitating crowd quivered like the out-spread tail of a strange peacock. Ezra must have trained them well."

Pound once took his fellow poet W. B. Yeats at night to a street in Rapallo that seemed to Yeats deserted, until Ezra began pulling from his pocket bones and pieces of meat, and began "to call the cats. He knows all their histories..."

Nin Andrews said...

Your writings about Pound remind me of the old part of San Juan --Puerto Rico-where every afternoon-they fed the cats. Out on the streets bowls of food appeared, and the cats all dined and then lay on the sidewalks, basking in the late afternoon light.

Dalriada said...

These are gorgeous creatures

Dalriada said...

I live with my 15+ years old cat and she is a marvellous companion Not the mercenary many people like to believe cats to be but very affectionate caring and entertaining

And yes still swift and lethal in the kill

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Vigilant Lynx

Flower rope
tangled oak-woods
places to climb
lynx not so picky

particular deep
with fur
all smells
all rose leaves

back to acorn tops
their leaves stuck
sharp outlines
the winds important

Wooden Boy said...

This is a rush of song.

"O lynx, be many"

TC said...

Alas, they are too few, and fewer by the day...

The earth's last remaining wild places are shrinking before the advance of humans everywhere. Native environments become harrowing grounds of test and trial.

A wonderful video documents the beauty, resourcefulness, dignity -- and vulnerability -- of these creatures... and of all the other creatures being squeezed out of existence by human "development":

Spain's Last Lynx



Thanks for glimpse of EP's daughter's head in tower window, " that feline bone structure in the face, inherited from her father." And Olson's, Brigit Patmore's and Yeats's recollections of Pound's cats -- and yes, EP's "Heiratic Head" in Guadier's statue (and profile in line drawing on cover of Personae).


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, waning white moon above branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

compared to color in present
work, sense of figure

that which shows itself, as
what is as such, that

silver line of sun reflected in channel,
shadowed green slope of ridge across it