rsz mantegna the court of mantua 1471 1474 walnut oil on plaster 805 x 807 cm camera degli sposi palazzo ducale mantua


"Images from the Second Canto of a Long Poem"

(Future, March 1918)



Send out your thought upon the Mantuan palace,

Drear waste, great halls; pigment flakes from the stone;

Forlorner quarter:

Silk tatters still in the frame, Gonzaga's splendour,

Where do we come upon the ancient people,

Or much or little,

Where do we come upon the ancient people?

"All that I know is that a certain star" -

All that I know of one, Joios Tolosan

Is that in middle May, going along

A scarce discerned path, turning aside

In "level poplar lands," he found a flower, and wept;

"Y a la primera flor," he wrote,

"Qu'ieu trobei, tornei em plor."

One stave of it, I've lost the copy I had of it in Paris,

Out of a blue and gilded manuscript:

Couci's rabbits, a slim fellow throwing dice,

Purported portraits serving in capitals.

Joios we have, by such a margent stream,

He strayed in the field, wept for a flare of colour

When Coeur de Lion was before Chalus;

Arnaut's a score of songs, a wry sestina;

The rose-leaf casts her dew on the ringing glass,

Dolmetsch will build our age in witching music,

Viols da Gamba, tabors, tympanons.

Yin-yo laps in the reeds, my guest departs,

The maple leaves blot up their shadows,

The sky is full of Autumn,

We drink our parting in saki.

Out of the night comes troubling lute music,

And we cry out, asking the singer's name,

And get this answer:

"Many a one

Brought me rich presents, my hair was full of jade,

And my slashed skirts were drenched in the secret dyes,

Well dipped in crimson, and sprinkled with rare wines;

I was well taught my arts at Ga-ma-rio

And then one year I faded out and married."

The lute-bowl hid her face. We heard her weeping.

Society, her sparrows, Venus' sparrows.

Catullus hung on the phrase (played with it as Mallarme

Played for a fan: "Reveuse pour que je plonge");

Wrote out his crib from Sappho:

God's peer,

yea and the very gods are under him

Facing thee, near thee; and my tongue is heavy,

And along my veins the fire; and the night is

Thrust down upon me.

That was one way of love,  flamma demanat,

And in a year: "I love her as a father,"

And scarce a year, "Your words are written in water,

And in ten moons: "O Caelius, Lesbia illa,

Caelius, Lesbia, our Leshia, that Lesbia

Whom Catullus once loved more

Than his own soul and all his friends,

Is now the drab of every lousy Roman";

So much for hi1n who puts his trust in woman.

Dordoigne! When I was there

There came a centaur, spying the land

And there were nymphs behind him;

Or procession on procession by Salisbury,

Ancient in various days, long years between them;

Ply over ply of life still wraps the earth here.

Catch at Dordoigne!

Vicount St. Antoni -

"D'amor tug miei cossir" - hight Raimon Jordans

Of Land near Caortz. The Lady of Pena

"Gentle and highly prized."

And he was good at arms, and bos trobaire,

"Thou art the pool of worth, flood-land of pleasure,

And all my heart is bound about with love,

As rose in trellis that is bound over and over";

Thus were they taken in love beyond all measure.

But the Vicount Pena

Went making war into an hostile country,

And was sore wounded. The news held him dead,

"And at this news she had great grief and teen,"

And gave the church much wax for his recovery,

And he recovered,

"And at this news she had great grief and teen"

And fell a-moping, dismissed St. Antoni,

"Thus was there more than one in deep distress,"

So ends that novel. Here the blue Dordoigne

Placid between white cliffs, pale

As the background of a Leonardo. Elis of Montfort

Then sent him her invitations.




Pound, Ezra. "Passages from the Opening Address in a Long Poem." InEzra Pound's Poetry and Prose: Contributions to Periodicals. Eds. Lea Baechler, A. Walton Litz and James Longenbach. Vol. 2. New York: Garland, 1991. 229-30.

Pound, Ezra. Appendix A. The Future Cantos. In The Genesis of Ezra Pound's Cantos, by Ron Bush. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. 303-306. 


Cantos in periodicals

A Draft of XXX Cantos