COMPANION TO CANTO XXVII
Annotations in the List of Works Cited
Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.
Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.
((Contributor name), OCCEP IV: n.no).
Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).
References to The Cantos
As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos for the first time, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: 7–17.
For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.
©Roxana Preda, Companion to canto XXVII, 17 July 2018.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Carroll F. Terrell. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993.
The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project.
Ezra Pound. Selected Prose, 1909-1965. Ed. William Cookson. New York: New Directions, 1975.
Pound, Ezra. Spirit of Romance. 1910. New York: New Directions, 2005.
- Formando di disio nuova persona – It. “fashions a new person from desire.” Line 17 from Guido Cavalcanti’s Ballata no. XII, translated by Ezra Pound, 1912. Source.
- Et quant au troisième … pas – Fr. “As to the third/ He fell into the / of his wife, [and] won’t be seen again.
- oth fugol ouitbaer – OE. “Until a bird bore out” – adaptation of line 83 the Anglo-Saxon poem “The Wanderer” which reads “sumne fugel oþbær.” Pound’s preceding lines are a sarcastic revision of the longer passage in The Wanderer (lines 81-89):
Sume wig fornom, War took off some,
ferede in forðwege, carried them on their way,
sumne fugel oþbær one, the bird took off
ofer heanne holm, across the deep sea,
sumne se hara wulf one, the gray wolf
deaðe gedælde, shared one with death,
sumne dreorighleor one, the dreary-faced
in eorðscræfe man buried
eorl gehydde. in a grave.
- Observed... cruiser − In her book Discretions, Mary de Rachewiltz stated that Pound had found this extraordinary observation in Kipling's work. Indeed, the story of the British officer who preserves such cool while his ship is being rammed at night by a German cruiser during World War I is told by Rudyard Kipling in an article called “The Night Hunt” in the Daily Telegraph (October 1916). Ramming an Enemy Cruiser. [Alistair Wilson]
- Porta-goose – Portuguese. Portugal is indeed England’s oldest ally. The alliance was started in 1147, it was first ratified in a treaty in 1373 and is still in force today (BBC History Magazine 2011). However, this was not a popular point of view around WWI when the relationship between the two nations was very strained: by means of an ultimatum in 1890, Britain had forced Portugal to withdraw from a number of African colonies.
Dr. Spahlinger – Henri Spahlinger (1882-1965), Swiss bacteriologist and researcher of a vaccine and serums for curing tuberculosis. Spahlinger’s research was not used, in spite of favourable articles published in The Lancet and in the American Journal of Public Health. Tuberculosis became curable with the discovery of streptomycin in 1943.
Pound’s lines refer to an accident that happened in Spahlinger's laboratory: a flask containing millions of germs of tuberculosis exploded in his face. Although he was unprotected, the scientist was not worried, saying that such accidents happen about twice a year in chemical research. The story was preserved in a newspaper clipping among Pound’s papers. (See article.)
In the drafts of the canto, the inverted commas occur after “research,” not after Spahlinger’s name, which makes clear that Pound is quoting the scientist directly.
- J’ai obtenu – F. “I got a burn … that cost me six months to heal.” Pierre Curie exposed his arm to radium during several hours (Pierre Curie 83). See also canto XXIII 14-17.
- M Curie – Fr. M[onsieur] Pierre Curie, French physicist (1859-1906). Together with Marie Curie, he won the Nobel prize in 1903 for his research in radioactivity.
- Prince des Penseurs – F. “Prince of Thinkers.” In 1912, the poet and playwright Jules Romains chanced upon a book by Jean-Pierre Brisset, entitled Les Origines humaines. In it – and in his various other self-published works, produced over the preceding 30 years – Brisset advanced the theory that men were descended from frogs.
Romains and his friends, amused and delighted by Brisset’s absurd reasoning, elected him ‘Prince des penseurs’, as a hoax. They brought him to Paris from Angers (where he worked as a railway official), and gave a banquet in his honour, before taking him to the Panthéon, where he delivered an oration in front of Rodin’s Penseur (Sieburth 280; Shingler 19).
Pound would mention Brisset again in canto LXXX:
“when they elected old Brisset Prince des Penseurs
Romains, Vildrac, and Chennivière and the rest of them
before the world was given over to wars” (LXXX/526)
- Monsieur Brisset – Jean-Pierre Brisset (1837-1919), apprentice pastry cook, railway employee and writer from Angers. He is the author of Les origines humaines and La grammaire logique. His complete works have been published in 2001. Encyclopedia.com.
“A damn country boor, intended to be a poet and they got him to Paris, all sorts of attentions and honors and I was passing through Paris at the time” (Pound quoted in de Rachewiltz, 158; see also SP 416).
- concierge – In France, the concierge takes care of building maintenance, is doorkeeper and janitor.
- Deputies – The Chamber of Deputies in Italy and France is the equivalent of the House of Commons in Britain and House of Representatives in the U.S. Both countries have a bicameral system, composed of Deputies and Senate.
- earthquake in Messina – On 28 December 1908, an earthquake destroyed the Sicilian cities of Messina and Reggio. Commenting on the chaos that followed the calamity, Norman Douglas remarked:
“Where shall grievances be ventilated? In Parliament? A good joke, that! In the press? Better still! Italian newspapers nowise reflect the opinions of civilized Italy; they are mere cheese-wrappers; in the whole kingdom there are only three self-respecting dailies. The people have learnt to despair of their rulers--to regard them with cynical suspicion. Public opinion has been crushed out of the country. What goes by that name is the gossip of the town-concierge, or obscure village cabals and schemings” (Old Calabria 277).
- Bucintoro sang it – The Bucintoro is ceremonial galley of the Venetian Doge, which is used on special political and religious occasions. Pound refers to a “Bucintoro rowing club,” from where he heard “Stretti” (La Spagnuola) while sitting nearby in 1908. See OCCEP III: n.4.
- Stretti – La Spagnuola, a song by Vicenzo Chiara, composed in 1906. Song and lyrics. See also OCCEP III: n.5.
- Clara Ellébeuse – Main character of the eponymous novel by Francis Jammes (1899). Jammes evokes the “air Clara d’Ellebeuse” in his opening paragraph:
Clara d’Ellébeuse s’éveille sous ses boucles et bâille contre son bras nu. Elle est blonde et ronde, et ses yeux ont la couleur du ciel quand il fait beau temps. (“Clara d’Ellébeuse wakes up under her curls and yawns against her naked arm. She is blond and plump, her eyes have the colour of the sky in good weather.” Wikisource.
- Benette joue la Valse des Elfes – Fr. “Benette plays the Elf Waltz.” This is a piano composition by Franz Behr (1837-1898). YouTube.
- salotto – I. drawing room. Salon.
- Floradora – Florodora, an operetta by Leslie Stuart on a book by Owen Hall, was performed with great success in London and published by Francis, Day and Hunter, in 1899.
“All but forgotten now, ‘Florodora’ was a smash at the turn of the last century on both sides of the Atlantic, famous for its catchy double-‘Sextet’ (‘Tell Me, Pretty Maiden’) which spawned the Florodora Girls, the most celebrated chorus line before Ziegfeld’s. The show’s history is a bit of a mess; the score seems to have had frequent interpolations, with many songs going by different titles at differenttimes” (Gene de Santis, review of CD on Amazon.)
- Sed et universus quoque ecclesiae populus – L. “but indeed also the whole congregation of the church.”
Pound is paraphrasing from a narrative surrounding the building of the Modena cathedral. See Sources.
- Glielmo ciptadin – I. “Guglielmo citizen.” The source is an inscription “over the arch of the great altar” of the cathedral in Ferrara, bearing the signature of the artists Nicholas and William who created it. The inscription was destroyed in a fire in the cathedral in the 18th century.
Pound put a version as a chapter motto in The Spirit of Romance: “Il mille cento trentacinque nato/ Fo questo tempio, a Zorzi consecrato/ Fu Nicolau scoltore/ E Glielmo fo l’autore” (In 1135 was born/ this temple consecrated to George/ Nicholas was sculptor/ And William was the author). (SR 101).
- Brumaire – French revolutionary calendar: 22 October to 20 November. On 18–19 Brumaire (November 9–10, 1799), a coup d’état overthrew the revolutionary Directorate in France, and established Napoleon as Consul. The event is often viewed as the effective end of the French Revolution; the Consulate lasted until 1804. Britannica online.
- Fructidor – French revolutionary calendar: 18 August to 16 September.
On 18 Fructidor (4 September 1797), with the help of the military, members of the French Directorate reversed the results of recent elections, which had shown a return of royalist sentiment in France. With this coup, the Jacobins re-established firm control over government. Wikipedia.
- Petrograd – a reference to the irruption of the Russian revolution in March 1917 in Petrograd (St. Petersburg). The revolution started when the Cossacks and other soldiers refused to shoot into the crowd assembled in front of the Petrograd railway station waiting for the distribution of rationed bread.
Pound knew about the events in the city from Lincoln Steffens’s witness account. See also canto XVI ll. 219-45.
- Tovarish – R. “comrade.” In Communist states, “comrade” was a universal appellation, used in all public interactions instead of Mister, Madam, Sir, Master, Miss, etc. “Tovarish” is thus everyman. Mary de Rachewiltz has an illuminating passage about the meaning that Pound ascribed to the term:
“And tovarish is the Russian compagno. In Russia there is no civilization because there is no stone and they had a revolution without arriving at anything. Tovarish is like the corn, unconscious; like the corn, being sowed in the earth and then baked and eaten” (Discretions 158).
- Xarites – Gr. Χάριτες. [The three] Graces: Aglaea (splendour), Euphrosyne (joy) and Thalia (abundance). Their parentage varied in the oral tradition. In saying they were “born of Venus and wine,” Pound makes them the daughters of Dionysus and Aphrodite.
- Helios – Greek god of the sun.
- Me Cadmus sowed in the earth – Cadmus is a Phoenician prince, born in Sidon, and the mythical founder of Thebes. While on his quest to find and rescue Europa, his sister, who had been abducted by Zeus, the Delphi oracle tells him to cease looking for her, instructs him to follow a heifer and build a city on the site where it would lie down exhausted. Cadmus did so, but found himself confronted with a dragon guarding the appointed site. After Cadmus killed him, Pallas Athene advised him to sow the dragon’s teeth in the earth. Soldiers sprang up from these and then started killing one another. (Ovid, Metamorphoses, Book III: 1-130).
- Let the five – Of Cadmus’ earth-born soldiers, only five remained who became Cadmus’ companions, built the city of Thebes (in Beotia, Greece) and fought in the Trojan War.
- gold ships – According to Euripides, Cadmus took part in the Trojan war, to expiate the killing the dragon, holy to the god of war Ares. Cadmus led a fleet of 50 ships from Beotia and had a golden dragon at the prow of his ship. One of the five earth-born soldiers, Leitus, was naval commander (Euripides, Iphigenia in Aulis 254-60).
It was probably this detail that inspired Pound to refer to Cadmus using a tag in Homeric style and call his hero “Cadmus of the gilded prows.” See also OCCEP IV: n.4.
- wall of Eblis at Ventadour – The ruined chateau of Viscount Eble III of Ventadour (-1170) in the Corrèze department is full of legendary associations. Pound imagined the castle to be the prison of Eble’s wife whom the viscount suspected of having had an affair with the poet Bernard de Ventadour. The poet was forced to depart from the chateau while the viscount divorced his wife in 1150. See also OCCEP VI: nn.25-27. Pound may have seen the ruin of Eble’s castle in Ventadour on his tour of the region in the summer of 1923.