Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Friday 30 April 2010

Dirce: A Set (Landor/Pound)


File:Dirce Beauty Colobura dirce.jpg

Stand close around, ye Stygian set,
With Dirce in one boat conveyed!
Or Charon, seeing, may forget
That he is old and she a shade.

Lalage's shadow moves in the fresco's knees
She is blotted with Dirce's shadow
dawn stands there fixed and unmoving
................only we two have moved.

File:Colobura dirce.jpg

Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864): Dirce
Ezra Pound (1885-1972): from Canto L

Dirce Beauty (Colobura dirce), Botanischer Garten, Munich: photo by Richard Bartz, 2010
Colobura dirce, Jardin Botanico del Quindio: photo by Caya!!, 2007


TC said...

In case these fragile diaphanous butterfly-wing things (er, I guess I mean poems) actually do interest people... it might be interesting to look into Pound's pedagogical textbook ABC of Reading, in which he devotes a stretch of ten pages or so to exhibits of and comments upon Landor's poems -- including this present one, which he recalls not only in Canto L (quoted here) but again in Canto LXXXII, where the memory of the Dirce lines, as a sort of tag for time passing and beauties lost, floats back into his reflections in the Pisa prison camp.

"The effect of his severe classical studies never deserts him," says EP of WL in ABC, "and the cantabile quality never wholly deserts the verses of his shorter poems, even when they are manifestly *inscribed*".



Nice to see this here (hear it), Pound pointed out these lines from Landor, didn't he -- otherwise why familiar? Something here in the moving or unmoving of parallel universes ---


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

system coordinates, present
overlook the present

movement, of other material
point, follow bodies

cloudless blue sky reflected in channel,
shadowed green canyon of ridge above it


thanks for this, just coming in as I tried to send you mine -- mind going to ABC of Reading, just as you've noted here. . . . (echos from Cantos not recalled here, so thanks).

TC said...


Yes, we have system coordinates today.

A. the morning adventuress, asked whether there is a "cloudless blue sky" here (out there) today, reported, "well, a watery pale blue... at least the birds think it's blue."

Curtis Roberts said...

They interest me a lot. I was in mid-research when your and Stephen's helpful comments popped up. My copy of ABC Of Reading isn't close at hand and I would very much appreciate it if you could possibly provide a little more information and context about Canto LXXXII, particularly the reference to Lalage.

TC said...


I think in Canto L Pound is evoking shadowy poetic archetypal women perhaps as a smokescreen to conceal specific actual women, which would be a not uncommon way of doing things, for him. (In the end he was always intensely private about personal/sexual matters;
as his daughter Mary de Rachewiltz points out in her memoir Discretions, he often used the names of goddesses as poetic cover.)

Lalage a common name for a courtesan, Dirce certainly imported out of Landor's Stygian shades.

A half dozen years, a war and a turning of the epochs later, he reprised the Dirce image in the Pisan Canos, pairing her with Aphrodite:

(Cytherea Cythera)
With Dirce in one bark convey'd

(The memoria were the rock to which he clung, in that latter harrowed time.)