18 January 2009

Canto V

A self-referential opening?
Great bulk, huge mass, thesaurus

but it seems we're now looking at Ecbatan, one of the unresolved references in Canto IV. Here's information from iranonline:
Hamedan is situated 400 km south-west of Tehran, where the ancient city of Ecbatan use to stand. Ecbatan was the Medes capital before they formed a union with the Persians. Some of the archeologists estimate that the first signs of civilization in this area to go back as far as 3000 B.C.

Ez goes on:
Ecbatan, the clock ticks and fades out
The bride awaiting the god's touch; Ecbatan,
City of patterned streets; again the vision;
Down in the viae stradae, toga'd the crowd, and arm'd,
Rushing on populous business

and from then the discussion seems to move on from a recreation of when the city was busy and thriving to its decline, but then drifts away into discussions that I can't follow, featuring someone called Poicebot and others. I've checked out Poicebot, and his story is apparently that he left his home, and his wife was seduced and left pregnant by an Englishman. You can kind of trace that story in the canto, but you'd need to know what you were looking for.

"You need to know what you're looking for" might be the motto of the whole thing so far. Let's go back a canto to Anaxiforminges, and the commentary I quoted, describing it as an extreme example of Pound's wish for condensation. Which I take to mean the ability to pack a lot of meaning into a few words, rather than the result of cooking without a lid on the pot. Anaxiforminges is a word packed with so many associations that it expresses complex ideas very briefly. Except it doesn't. By the time you've found out what those associations are, you might as well have read a few more words. A little exposition could go a long way.

The canto moves to the Tiber so something's going on in Rome, involving John or Giovanni Borgia, but really I can't decode what it is.

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