Glaukopis 

“How hard the old cloistered scholarship, to which the Nobels of a bygone age gave their endowments, has toiled to understand the word glaukopis, given to the goddess Athene. Did it mean blue-eyed, or gray-eyed, or by the aid of Sanskrit – merely glare-eyed? And all the time they had not only the word glaux staring them in the face, as the Athenian name for owl, and the name of ox-eyed Hera to guide them, but they had the owl itself cut at the foot of every statue of Athene and stamped on every coin of Athens, to tell them that she was the owl-eyed goddess, the lightning that blinks like an owl. For what is characteristic of the owl’s eyes is not that they glare, but that they suddenly leave off glaring, like lighthouses whose light is shut off. We may see the shutter of the lightning in that mask that overhangs Athene’s brow, and hear its click in the word glaukos. And the leafage of the olive, whose writhen trunk bears, as it were, the lightning’s brand, does not glare, but glitters, the pale under face of the leaves alternating with the dark upper face, and so the olive is Athene’s tree, and is called glaukos. Why need we carry owls to Oxford?” 

 

References

Bush, Ron. The Genesis of Ezra Pound's Cantos. Princeton: Princeton, UP, 1976. Print. 94.

Upward, Allen. The New Word. London, 1910. 238-239. Print.

 

Cantos in periodicals

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