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07 February 2009

Canto XXI

The easiest thing for me in this blog is naming the posts. No need to try and fit some witty headline, only to find I've already used that pun three times. Here are some I might have used:

Pounding the Beat or Beating the Pound
Pound Devalued
Impound me (I'm Pound, me)
Sez Ez
The Pound in your Pocket
Pound for Glory
Homeward Pound
Louisiana Pound
Lost and Pound
Frost & Pound
Safe and Pound
Pound Effects
Grace A-pounding
The Pounds of the Baskervilles

You may correctly assume this is displacement activity. But I must get on with it because this is the Canto in which I make it past page 100. Again, I boast, I bet this is further than most readers get.

After a quick repeated reference to Borso (and I still haven't been able to find anything more about his plan to "build a mountain from scratch") we get consecutive similar accounts of two Italian princes. In both cases there are details of the inheritance ("Intestate, 1429, leaing 178221 florins", "Intestate, '69, in December, leaving me 237,989 florins"). Both appear to be illustrating the way in which the families gained power.

Then there's a section about Thomas Jefferson, an extract from a letter (to an unnamed recipient, assumed to be somewhere in Burgundy) asking could you:
Find me a gardener
Who can play the french horn?
The bounds of American fortune
Will not admit the indulgence of a domestic band of
Musicians [...]

And then it's back to Italy and once again I'm reduced, if that's the word, which it isn't, to picking out examples of Ez's word-painting:
And the sea with tin flash in the sun-dazzle,
Like dark wine in the shadows.
"Wind between the sea and the mountains"
The tree-spheres half dark against sea
half clear against sunset,
The sun's keel freighted with cloud ...

These are the passages I like the most, as you may have noticed. Where the presence of the sea easily evokes both homeric images and early English prosody. And the canto ends with the pastoral scene, inhabited by mythological figures. Finally:
And the old man went on there
beating his mule with an asphodel.

From Wikipedia: In Ancient Greece, white asphodel was associated with mourning and death. Its presence was held to facilitate the transition of the dead to Elysium.

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