28 February 2009

Canto XXIX

This one has a lighter sound to it than the previous - a piano rather than an organ (although I might be influenced by the music I'm listening to - Joanna Macgregor playing Bach's French Suites). The lines are shorter and more transparent, but what are they about?

We begin with a tale of family deceptions in Pitigliano, where a concubine, Pernella, plots the death of the legitimate heirs in favour of her son. Then we go on to the story of Cunizza, who was given in marriage to Richard St Boniface, but seduced ("subtracted" from her husband, says Ez) by Sordello (hello again), who
... lay with her in Tarviso
Till he was driven out of Tarviso
And she left with a soldier named Bonius
nimium amorata in eum
And went from one place to another
"The light of this star o'ercame me"
Greatly enjoying herself
And running up the most awful bills.
And this Bonius was killed on a sunday
and she had then a Lord from Braganza
and later a house in Verona.

There's then a section about a character called Juventus. I've tried to see if that's a historical figure, but wikipedia only gives me the football team. This Juventus is a crap philospher and possibly a courtly lover. He says:
Matter is the lightest of all things,
Chaff, rolled into balls, tossed, whirled in the aether,
Undoubtedly crushed by the weight,
Light also proceeds from the eye;

I think it's Juventus who keeps the focus, and then gets into a discussion of the nature of women:
Wein, Weib, TAN AOIDAN
Chiefest of these the second, the female
Is an element, the female
Is a chaos
An octopus
A biological process
and we seek to fulfill ...
TAN AOIDAN, our desire, drift ...

Looking up TAN AOIDAN (and putting it caps doesn't make it any clearer, Ez) I've found several comentaries that quote this passage. Sadly none of them translates the phrase. The concern about the passage is the rather bizarrely old-fashioned view of women. Is it Ez's view? I don't know. You couldn't learn anything about Ez's views from a passage like this, since it's in a voice that is not specifically his. If we found this sort of sentiment often, and apparently approved, we might think so. And although I've called it old-fashioned, there are times when Freud says something like this. I think the old-fashionedness of it for me is in the form rather than the sentiment: the belief that saying "the female is a chaos" actually means anything.

The canto finishes in a typical passage of watery pastoral/lyrical:
Stone, bough over bough,
lamps fluid in water,
Pine by the black trunk of its shadow
And on the hill black trunks of the shadow
The trees melted in air.

1 comment:

Brian said...

Finally tracked down TAN AOIDAN. It simply means "the singing", so the whole line is basically "wine, women and song". No idea at all why it's in German and Greek. It's like "those girls" - where putting in quotation marks implies it's a well-known, striking phrase. Wishing don't make it so, ez.