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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Ellen Stauder <[log in to unmask]>
Sun, 5 Oct 2003 15:40:33 PDT
- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
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Dear Poundians,

I have been much interested in the tone leading of the vowels idea, especially
in relation to Pound's rhythm.  In my view, what is important is that Duncan
sees both tone-leading or vowel music and rhythm as providing temporal
organization.  We tend to read vowel music as a kind of ear candy but Duncan and
Pound focus on its capacity to organize time.  As best as I know, the passage
where Duncan talks about tone leading is a discussion of the Pisan Cantos in
"The H. D. Book:  Chapter 4" *Tri-Quarterly* 12 (Spring 1968): 82.  The passasge
reads:  "That one image may recall another, finding depth i the resounding is
the secret of rime and measure.  The time of a poem is felt as a recognition of
return in vowel tone and in consonant formations, of pattern in sequence of
syllables, in stress and in pitch of a melody, of images and meaning.  It
resembles the time of a dream, for it is highly organized along lines of
association and impulses f contrast towards the structure of the whole.  The
same impulse of dream of peom is to provide a ground for some form beyond what
we know, for felling 'greater than reality.'"

         The important passage in "I Gather the Limbs of Osiris" occurs in section X:
"The preceding paragraphs have had to do with rhythm; the other limb of melody
is the pitch and ptich variation, and upon this our sole query is to be whether
there is in speech, as there is i music, 'tone-leading.'  We know that certain
notes played in sequence call for other notes, for a 'resolution,' for a
'close'; and in setting words to music it is often the hunger for this sort of
musical apparatus that leads the musician away from the rhythm of the verse or
makes him drag out the final syllables.  What I want to get at is this:  in the
interpreting of the hidden melody of poetry into the more manifest melody of
music, are there in the words themselves 'tone-leadings'?"  Pound goes on in his
discussion of Arnaut Daniel to suggest that there are such tone-leadings and
that Arnaut is a particularly good example of the practice.

Hope this helps,

Ellen Stauder