|I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman —
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has a pig-headed father . . .
— Ezra Pound, "A Pact" (1913)
I knew my acquaintance to be wealthy. Report had spoken of his possessions in terms which I had even ventured to call terms of ridiculous exaggeration. But as I gazed about me, I could not bring myself to believe that the wealth of any subject in Europe could have supplied the princely magnificence which burned and blazed around.
. . . In the architecture and embellishments of the chamber, the evident design had been to dazzle and astound. Little attention had been paid to the decora of what is technically called keeping, or to the proprieties of nationality. The eye wandered from object to object, and rested upon none – neither the grotesques of the Greek painters, nor the sculptures of the best Italian days, nor the huge carvings of untutored Egypt. Rich draperies in every part of the room trembled to the vibration of low, melancholy music, whose origin was not to be discovered. The senses were oppressed by mingled and conflicting perfumes, reeking up from strange convolute censers, together with multitudinous flaring and flickering tongues of emerald and violet fire. The rays of the newly risen sun poured in upon the whole, through windows formed each of a single pane of crimson-tinted glass. Glancing to and fro, in a thousand reflections, from curtains which rolled from their cornices like cataracts of molten silver, the beams of natural glory mingled at length fitfully with the artificial light, and lay weltering in subdued masses upon a carpet of rich, liquid-looking cloth of Chili gold.
The Chair she sat in, like a burnished throne,
|A child said, What is the grass? fetching it to me with full hands;
How could I answer the child?....I do not know what it is any more than he.
I guess it must be the flag of my disposition, out of hopeful green stuff woven.
| What are the roots that clutch, what branches grow
Out of this stony rubbish? Son of man,
You cannot say, or guess, for you know only
A heap of broken images . . .
|I understand the large hearts of heroes,
The courage of present times and all times;
How the skipper saw the crowded and rudderless wreck of the steamship,
and death chasing it up and down the storm,
How he knuckled tight and gave not back one inch, and was
faithful of days and faithful of nights,
And chalked in large letters on a board, Be of good cheer, We will not
How he saved the drifting company at last,
How the lank loose-gowned women looked when boated from the side
of their prepared graves,
How the silent old-faced infants, and the lifted sick, and the
sharp-lipped unshaved men;
All this I swallow and it tastes good....I like it well, and
it becomes mine,
I am the man....I suffered....I was there.
|I Tiresias, old man with wrinkled dugs
Perceived the scene, and foretold the rest
I too awaited the expected guest. . . .
(And I Tiresias have foresuffered all
Enacted on this same divan or bed;
I who have sat by Thebes below the wall
And walked among the lowest of the dead.)
|I troop forth replenished with supreme power,
one of an average unending procession,
We walk the roads of Ohio and Massachusetts and Virginia and
Wisconsin and New York and New Orleans and Texas and Montreal and
San Francisco and Charleston and Savannah and Mexico,
Inland and by the seacoast and boundary lines....and we pass
the boundary lines.
Our swift ordinances are on their way over the whole earth,
The blossoms we wear in our hats are the growth of two thousand years.
|What is that sound high in the air
Murmur of maternal lamentation
Who are those hooded hordes swarming
Over endless plains, stumbling in cracked earth
Ringed by the flat horizon only
What is the city over the mountains
Cracks and reforms and bursts in the violet air
Jerusalem Athens Alexandria