continued from pound note one: here
followed by pound note two: here
followed by pound note three: here
followed by pound note four: here

This page has spun off from Pound Note Two, where some pictures by Bacon
reminded me of Pound's poetry.
I noted that both men have their fans, but I included myself out.

Francis Bacon 1909-1992

November 2006. An essay by Lee Garver, Assistant Professor of English at Butler University, has appeared in Journal of Modern Literature, Summer 2006, entitled Seafarer Socialism: Pound, the New Age and Anglo-Medieval Radicalism.

Let's skip the Seafarer Socialism of the Anglo-Medieval Radicals. Since the Anglo-Saxon language is so imperfectly appreciated by Anglo-Americans, and since their sensitivity to the shades of meaning in Anglo-Saxon word-use is so blunted, do their comments about the content of Anglo-Saxon writings have any validity?

Not any protector
May make merry man faring needy,
This he little believes, who aye in winsome life
Abides 'mid burghers some heavy business

For this there's no mood-lofty man over earth's midst,
Not though he be given his good, but will have in his youth greed;
Nor his deed to the daring, nor his king to the faithful

My lord deems to me this dead life
On loan and on land, I believe not
That on earth-weal eternal standeth
Save there be somewhat calamitous

Nor may he then the flesh-cover, whose life ceaseth,
Nor eat the sweet nor feel the sorry,
Nor stir hand nor think in mid heart,
And though he strew the grave with gold,
His born brothers, their buried bodies
Be an unlikely treasure hoard

the meaning is in the metre

Pound of Bacon

There was "always something deeply bogus" about Pound, as was remarked by David Gates in the New York Times, Feb 1, 2004 (see here); and as even some of his most dedicated bootlickers understood. A sudden sea-surge of renewed interest seems to have persuaded me, ten years on, to contemplate the matter again.

In September, 2007, I registered that Duchamp's artwork "reflects the dynamic nature of art today and the idea that the creative process that goes into a work of art is the most important thing --- the work itself can be made of anything and can take any form." Con-art, in other words. Duchamp, 1887 - 1968, is to blame: it's all his fault.

Wikipedia: Pound was born on 30 October 1885 and died on 1 November 1972. In later life he was able to analyze what he judged to be his own failings as a writer, attributable to his obstinate adherence to ideological fallacies. Meeting with poet Allen Ginsberg in Venice in 1967, Pound provided a self-professed coda to his body of work:

"My own work does not make sense. A mess ... my writing, stupidity and ignorance all the way through ... the intention was bad, anything I've done has been an accident, in spite of my spoiled intentions the preoccupation with stupid and irrelevant matters ... but my worst mistake was the stupid suburban anti-Semitic prejudice, all along that spoiled everything .... I found after 70 years that I was not a lunatic but a moron. I should have been able to do better .... It's all doubletalk ... it's all tags and patches ... a mess."

Here is what Bacon, 1909 - 1992, had to say about his own work:

Two statements, by Clive Wilmer, were made about Pound which excite notice. First was the assertion that Ezra was "the greatest translator of modern times". Personally, I don't believe he was a translator of any kind at all. Something, he certainly was, but what? The second interesting remark was that in the case of his so-called translations "the metre was chosen as appropriate to his meaning." Aha ! The metre provides the meaning ! Well, it's not in the words.

The following excerpt comes from Martin Gardner's 1983 book The Whys of a Philosophical Scrivener, Chapter 4, Beauty: Why I Am Not an Aesthetic Relativist.

so much can be

from a brown

drenched with rain

beside the red wheel

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Williams v Gardner. You pays your money and you takes your pick-axe.

*** *** ***


"Everywhere I have tried to separate out from the original records some flavor of an actual particularity the character denoting shape which the unique force has given."

Huh ? Come again ? Could any sentence be more self-consciously mannered ? Or hideously artificial ?

*** *** ***

"I confess that I am seldom interested in what he is saying, but only in the way he says it." T.S.Eliot on Pound, quoted by F.R.Leavis, in New Bearings in English Poetry, Chatto 1959, p.136. The way he says nothing ? Anything ?

There was a young poet I knew
Who failed to emerge into view.
He said: "I'll dispense
With rhyme, metre and sense."
So he did; and he's now in Who's Who.

Works consulted

Dr Chris Jones
Clive Wilmer on Pound's Life & Career
Pass the Peanuts

see here

At least Ezra called the language Anglo-Saxon, instead of that grotesque misnomer Old English.

Vladimir Nabokov's cries of distress at the travesties perpetrated by those failing to convey the masterpieces of Russian writing to an Anglo-American readership are sufficient witness to the exquisite torture suffered by anyone who actually understands Russian, or experiences the mangling of any other source language, be it Chinese, Latin, Scandinavian or Anglo-Saxon.

*** *** ***

Marcel Duchamp, 1917

voted the most influential artwork
of the 20th Century, in 2004

These be your Gods, O Israel!


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