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08 March 2009

Canto XXXII

A short one - just less than three pages - and Ez has given some help. In theory, I can see it would be possible to untangle the various strands that are going on her, because the breaks are separated by ellipsis marks. I think. Even so it's not always clear.

The first two lines give the first strand:
The revolution," said Mr Adams,
"Took place in the minds of the people."

That ties in with the preceding canto.

Then there's something about a ship called the Amphitrite, something about some french-language diplomacy, something about crops, echoes of the letter from Jefferson in XXI, comments on "civilising the indians", and many more. I guess what's going on here is a bubbling of ideas in the founding of USA. It's contrasted with the following passage:
Louis Sixteenth was a fool
The King of Spain was a fool, the King of Naples a fool
they despatched two couriers weekly to tell each other, over a thousand miles
what they had killed ... the King of Sardinia
was, like all the Bourbons, a fool, the
Portuguese Queen a Braganza and therefore by nature an idiot,
The successor to Frederic of Prussia, a mere hog
in body and mind, Gustavus and Joseph of Austria
were as you know really crazy, and George 3d was in
a straight waistcoat.

Obv I like that for its anti-monarchical drift, and I think it demonstrates that as well as a gift for lyric poetry, Ez could do invective like few others.

And the phrase twice repeated: "The cannibals of Europe are eating one another again".

What might be going on then is that the founding of USA is seen as an improvement over the monarchies of Europe, a suggestion that monarchy leads to war (because kings are mad and use war for personal ends), but that Europe currently is the same state of internecine chaos that the American founding idea was opposed to.

So, I think in this case I've managed to interpret the relations of one textual unit to another, forming a meta-text. I'm half-convinced and think I am making progress as I work through these cantos.

I've now, as you can see, put on the page a gadget that scans twitter for tweets mentioning Ezra+Pound. I replied to one who posed the question "Is EP overrated?" with an invitation to drop by. I'm still waiting. But he tweeted later, saying he'd worked out that Ez was a top imagist, but then his work got corrupted by jealousy. I'd like to hear more about that idea. I think it's more likely that his work got corrupted by his obsessions. Having had too much contact with obsessed people, I recognise the signs.

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