Daily Archives: September 19, 2018

page 1 of 96 of Duino Elegies

I wish I had an opportunity to have some royal family allow me unfettered access to a castle within which I can just live their and write poetry.

I wonder if this is why I more like poets like Heaney, W.C.W., and people closer to the average human experience?

I’ve never read Rilke before so I have no idea what I’m in for, but I doubt it will be like Pound’s prison poetry.

page 30 of 1327 of The Riverside Chaucer

The doctor is satirized because he isn’t actually doing any real healing, he’s a scam unlike good Arab doctors. He’s also in cahoots with the apothecary because he can just prescribe some drug concoction (cordial) and get a kickback of that sale from the apothecary. Just like today with how drug companies pay (influence) doctors to prescribe expensive drugs and pain killers. Things never change.

page 28 of 1327 of The Riverside Chaucer

The commons: people like Chaucer. Chaucer would have had a lot of contact with merchants like the one here. This merchant is just like a salesman of today who while they might be broke, they sure look the part so as to gain your trust (get credit).

The sergeant of the law is a lawyer who abuses the system by having foreknowledge of how a case will go and so can make a profit on someone else losing their estate.

page 27 of 1327 of The Riverside Chaucer

The Friar has married off all those girls because he got them pregnant. Unlike the aristocratic monk, the friar is of the people (taverns). He hangs with the lower classes and they could hear confession and get a tip for doing so. What’s interesting is that even if a friar was lenient (and just wanted money) the act of confessing was strong enough as to still “count” even if the penance was paid off.

page 26 of 1327 of The Riverside Chaucer

Clerical satire is basically the same as estates satire which focus on the vices, not virtues, of the church.

Though St. Francis was against it, monks could make some good money. Chaucer is showing the monk here as being materialistic and uneducated – he’s probably a second son and just wants to hunt. Hunting = Ven (capture) > venery = Veneral (Venus, sex) & Venare (hunting). This monk hunts women.

page 25 of 1327 of The Riverside Chaucer

The squire is framed against his higher ranking father. The Knight is introduced as the ideal knight, whereas the squire is introduces via his looks.

The knight is already existing in a period of technical decline with the advent of cannons and the Welsh longbow. He’s also a mercenary so his ideal of truth and loyalty goes about as far as who is paying him, unlike, say Galahad and the grail.

page 23 of 1327 of The Riverside Chaucer

Chaucer isn’t just the author, he’s also a pilgrim in the story who is telling the story – and once we get to each tale we are getting that character’s story told through Chaucer the pilgrim written by Chaucer the author.

Estates satire is the model genre here for the knight/squire/yeoman. The vices (not virtues) of their trade is the subject of each occupation.

page 110 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“And now the ants seem to stagger / as the dawn sun has trapped their shadows, / this breath wholly covers the mountains / it shines and divides / it nourishes by its rectitude / does no injury / overstanding the earth it fills the nine fields / to heaven” Providence? God? Nature? The sun is for everyone, what we do with it is up to us.

“Brother Wasp is building a very neat house” Life toils endlessly.

page 108 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“Nothing affects these people / Except our conversation” Words are dangerous, news and rumor travels fast (Chaucer’s House of Fame). War can kill us, but it’s our language which really changes things – governments, law, literature, love letters.

“No man who has passed a month in the death cells believes in cages for beasts” Freedom, but is true freedom anarchy? We all freely serve, we’re all in some sort of cage.

page 105 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“CONversation” Language can be manipulated.

“The news was quicker in Troy’s time” The gods could react a lot quicker than we can.

“O troubled reflection / O Throat, O throbbing heart” See me, not just shadows, hear me, understand me. I sing and I hurt and I want to be understood.

“periplum” is as good a word as any, even if it’s not (formally) a word. Perhaps this is Pound’s “Yes” (from Joyce).

page 100 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“Pull down thy vanity” Reminds me of Satan who was cast down for vanity / pride.

The problem with the word modern is that it’s been in use for so long now that we can’t really use it now. Modern is old, time has moved on. This is and isn’t modern poetry. When, then ,does this exist?

“Here error is all in the not done” However, “When in doubt, do nothing” Tolstoy. Both are correct.

page 98 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“I rose through the aureate sky”

Tune the ancient lute to hear the sounds not heard in generations. Language, the old meanings of words “root” – the plant has roots hidden in the earth and words have meaning we aren’t always aware of, but words have meaning. Words are important. In the beginning was the word. I am words.

We are all “centaur[s]” We are half beastly nature, half language rationals. Liminal

page 94 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“Only shadows enter my tent / as men pass between me and the sunset” Like the dead walking around and their ghosts leave a trace. He is secluded from humanity, or maybe the other way around? Impersonal, lonely.

“and God knows what else is left of our London, my London, your London” civilization wrecked? London was Roman, then how many others took control of it, changed hands? What is a society anyway?

page 92 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

Line 705-726″ War is over, “Now that there’s room for doubt” we can see the wreckage left behind after fighting that war, see all the laws we trampled over to win, the rights lost, the history lost, the humanity lost.

“and still there if you climb over the attic rafter; to look at the fields; are they tilled?” Again, the farmer comes home to what? Dying cow? Barn destroyed? Fields full of rockets? Rebuild, rebirth.

page 92 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“if calm be after tempest / that the ants seem to wobble / as the morning sun catches their shadows” I love this minute detail.

“with a smoky torch thru the unending / labyrinth of the souterrain” Reminds me of the pre-historic people crawling through caves to paint the oxen and lions and horses. Mysterious, reflective.

“The wind is lighter than swansdown / the day moves not at all” Beautiful – like kids summer

page 87 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“but he climbed about 200 steps of the tower to see what he had seen thru the roof of a barn no longer standing … where he had fired that howitzer and the large eye that found him at its level was a giraffe’s eye at dawn, in his nest, hunting leopards” The killer / soldier has remorse? Haunted by his past? Whom did he kill? War is terrible because it never really ends.

page 83 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“anarchy was the true form of government” Which is funny since even heaven has a government, as does hell.

“The old trees near the Rue Jacob / were propped up to keep them from falling” reminds me of the poplars lining the Apian Way, like old soldiers who can’t stand anymore and need help from the younger generations. Every civilization is built on war.

page 81 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“It is said that Homer was a medic / who followed the greek armies to Troas” I never heard this before – interesting idea. Poetry following war, art following destruction. Greeks kill, Homer turns the wreckage into art. Homer as doctor for the men with PTSD – gotta keep their spirits up so they’ll keep fighting. Good thing Homer was blind to not see how terrible the war was for them men – his poems would be different

page 79 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“you can neither eat manuscript not Confucius” Philosophy won’t do you much good when you’re starving. How many good people will steal bread to stay alive then years later denounce a thief? Philosophy is only as good as you are comfortable.

“beyond the stockade there is chaos and nothingness” Funny how a prisoner who wants freedom is also scared of that freedom.

page 74 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“the warp / and the woof / with a sky wet as ocean / flowing with liquid slate” Beautiful image, if strange.

“they say she could draw down birds from the trees, / that indeed was imperial; but made hell in / the palace” Very funny, but also it’s a capturing of nature and nature’s revolt to be caged. Also, birds will shit on anyone, king or not.

“the problem after any revolution is what to do with / your gunmen”

page 71 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“but the gas cut off” is a great image of the wreck of nobility sitting around with no money to pay the bills or, at least, because the utilities / utility of the nation has been destroyed. What good is a king if you can’t stay warm in winter?

“grain of an era” & “the bread of that era” Hunger, history, the cow with exposed ribs, all eras are an era of bread – give us our daily bread, o lord (king) give us our gas.

page 70 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“the young horse whinnies against the sound of the bumm band;” an image of nature reacting terrified against the coming war, or the fear of a young man who is being called up to war, nature’s natural music vs man’s mechanical music.

That lynx watching him is a haunting image, like being able to feel him going madder and growing more paranoid as the cantos go on.

page 65 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“there / are / no / righteous / wars” No, there aren’t.

“and her hair gone white from the loss of him / and she not yet thirty” So much grief.

“The new Bechstein is electric” – all his birds sit on the electric wires making a new sort of electric music – the sound in the wires visualized by nature – hidden, unseen beauty to be discovered.

page 58 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“there are those who did not want / it to come to an end” as in the war. McCarthur and (I think Patton too) wanted to roll on to Moscow after the war.

He’s so concerned with money and economics.

“Nothing left here but women” because all the men have been killed in the war. Humanity split in two.

“one might do worse than open a pub on Lake Garda” hope for the future? Plans? But who will visit it?

page 53 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“It is true that the interest is now legally lower” As in the war? In killing? In life? In history? In empathy? This is such a great line.

“as witness the bombardment at Frascati after the armistice / had been signed” As fast as news / rumor travels, it isn’t faster than our ability to kill each other when we disagree. War travels faster than everything.

page 50 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“so kissed the earth after sleeping on concrete.” & “in limbo no victories, there, are no victories -” We can change our physical situation but we’re still trapped in the same mind.

“the army vocabulary contains almost 48 words” almost like those apes that can use some sign language – just trained well enough to amuse the zoo keepers, but emotional infants ready to kill.

page 46 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“Sochy-lism is a-comin’ ” We still hear this talk today, people who talk about something they don’t quite understand – one way or another.

“nothing counts save the quality of the affection” I wonder if this is what Jesus thought / felt as he took on everyone’s sin?

Love how he equates rumor/ news to what’s heard in a shit house.

“the earth belongs to the living” But we can’t seem to shake the ghosts, either.

page 41 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“from the wreckage of Europe”

“States of mind are inexplicable to us.” The problem of really knowing someone, of really empathizing with someone. These Cantos are an outpouring of Pound’s mind, but do we still know him any better? Is he trying to excuse his treason? Is he asking us to look deeper?

“woe to them that conquer with armies / and whose only right is their power.” Yet the farmer also starves.

page 36 of 192 of The Pisan Cantos

“he was sad because he had been able to feel / all the ribs of his cow …” this is a devastating line in the face of all the war that had been going on but it also recalls what happened to the Jews and other people who the Nazi’s terrorized. Also it reminds me of an old Roman soldier returning home after a war and though he’s put down his sword for a plow, he has very little to work with- almost as if war was better