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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Dirk Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
Mon, 6 Aug 2001 14:11:09 -0700
- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
text/plain (188 lines)

Thanks for an excellent response.  I chose derkomen off the top of my head
from line whatevereth in book whichever.  Enjoyed your pun on the German
with verb caps - I was expecting you to inform me that the entire Iliad is
in caps in the source texts and that one just crept in to keep us honest.

But, Charles, sometimes you sound like a philologist (my favorite of the
type being Nietzsche since I live among the clatter), though now it would be

Yet, though it's true that New Directions manages mass circulation of the
Cantos, how many who buy them actually read them or, if they do read them,
don't find them "academic"?  My (granted very small) point was that the
Cantos are somewhat Faustian, that in Pounds thrust against the academies he
came to resemble them a great deal.

In fact, I've generally thought of Pound AS MY academy, in much the way
Homer was once viewed by many.

Doesn't mean I know anything, but I have an idea regarding who does.


-----Original Message-----
From: charles moyer [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Monday, August 06, 2001 8:14 AM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: In Praise of Achilles, was Re: how hermetic? how athenic?

Dear *Drk,

>From: Dirk Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
>To: [log in to unmask]
>Subject: Re: In Praise of Achilles, was Re: how hermetic? how athenic?
>Date: Sun, Aug 5, 2001, 9:56 AM

> I could do without the "thees, thous, and thy's", but not without the
> cadence, word-play, and phrasing.

    Of course and that's the poetry of it.
> Thanks for the transliteration (buy why the capital "B"?).I assure you
> I've gotten much farther into the Iliad than line 10, like, er... maybe...
> all the way?  But who cares?  I only care because I've been fortunate
> to encounter it.

    All Greek nouns are capitalized. I confess I use the bilingual Loeb
> I'm not sure I understand what you mean by "aetiology of this prime mover
> doesn't seem to be changed by it".  In my reading, it sets the cosmic
> into a different time and reference than the action -- a theme repeated
> times throughout the Iliad, and highlighted during every battle.  Even the
> preferences of one or the other god for the Achaens or the Trojans is
> constantly portrayed as minor in comparison to the vast will of Zeus,
> operates on a different plane altogether.  How much less important is the
> anger of Achilles than the will of Zeus?  If I refered to aetiology
> I was merely half asleep.

    Who wouldn't be? But, yes, ostensibly Olympus remains aloof, at least
that is Zeus's wish. Involvement with mortals as in the "Volsunga Saga" or
Genesis (beginning of Chapter 6) always spells trouble upstairs, and
although Zeus threatens his own Olympians with the lowest dark brazen halls
of Hades, they still can't resist meddling. Carlo can maybe tell us how
Dante's aetiology is different, but monotheism, which fails sometimes to
consult its own omniscience, seems to share the same dilemma as its hated
rival polytheism in the failure to resist meddling. Makes for a good story
    "How much less important is the anger of Achilles than the will of
Zeus?" How justified was the anger of Cain? And when push comes to shove
Zeus makes a fist in his toga pocket. His will (Boulay) or better
"determination" will have to be at the expense of his own loneliness, all
the more reason to question the patriarchal myth that Athena (Wisdom) sprang
from his head instead of the other way around, i.e. that Zeus (the sky god)
wasn't the unfinished afterthought of reasoning, sound or unsound, like his
Yahwist counterpart.
> As for Ez, don't know the exact location of your query, though it sounds a
> lot like "Guide to Kulchur" (and you could look it up as easily as I), but
> he certainly did have it in for grammarians and philologists.  On the
> hand, he frequently spoke of the need for precision in language.  Appears
> be a contradiction, since precision exists as much in grammar as in
> vocabulary. But Pound was more interested in approach.  He wanted people
> read poetry for love, not because it's their job to work out the iotas and
> fashion paradigms for others to memorize or to establish reputations as
> who "knows all about" a poem because they can trace "derkomen" back to the
> Indo-European root *drk.

    It's "derkomai" as Greek verbs are traditional grasped by their
infinitives. Interesting that you pick this verb from all others. Its past
perfect infinitive is "drakon" (to have seen or perceived), and the same
word as a noun means dragon or ouroboros which brings us full circle
(Indo-European style) to our hermetic theme - What's up there (cosmic
cronies and all) is the the same down here with us Brotoi. To deliver the
messages is the job of the poet. Or perhaps as Black Elk, the old Sioux
priest, said, "He(the vision seeker) must be alert to recognize any
messenger which the Great Spirit may send to him, for these people often
come in the form of an animal, even one as small and as seemingly
insignificant as a little ant." (The Sacred Pipe, p.58)
> An aspect of the Cantos I've always found somewhat amusing is that ur
> typical reader (at least as I've encountered him/her in San Francisco and
> New York) feels that the Cantos are "too academic" in contradistinction to
> someone like Eliot whom he/she doesn't feel is very "academic" at all.
> a great deal of my own thin, sporadic, and ill-planned academic
> has been a direct result of the fact the for some possibly ridiculous
> I loved the Cantos from the moment I picked them up and wanted to
> them.  But that was after I fell in love with Homer.
> Pound sure spent a lot of time reading poems (and other documents) in
> original languages, even when he was ill-equipped to do so.  Maybe he
> realize that a translation would have been just as good?

    Well, it's possible that it could be better, but as to wherever Pound
may be in his afterlife make your own choice. I still see copies of the
Cantos and Homer in Borders and Barnes and Nobles each time I browse there.
Or in another sense on the theme of life after death for the hunters of the
White Stag, these few lines from Yeats-
    "It were sad to gaze on the blessed and no man I loved
                        of old there;
      I throw down the chain of small stones! when life in my
                         body has ceased,
    I will go to Caoilte, and Conan, and Bran, Sceolan,
    And dwell in the house of the Fenians, be they in
                      flames or at feast."

> Don't remember the loca

    Forget it, I'm not writin' no paper.

> -----Original Message-----
> From: charles moyer [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
> Sent: Saturday, August 04, 2001 5:08 AM
> To: [log in to unmask]
> Subject: FW: In Praise of Achilles, was Re: how hermetic? how athenic?
> ----------
>>From: Dirk Johnson <[log in to unmask]>
>>To: [log in to unmask]
>>Subject: Re: In Praise of Achilles, was Re: how hermetic?
>>Date: Fri, Aug 3, 2001, 9:07 PM
>> "Then we went crying down to the ship with heavy sheep and bodies and set
>> sail on the ocean."  What the hell, might as well read Pound that way,
>     No, of course not. He just wouldn't be the same without those good
> King James / Quaker "thee's, thou's and thy's. But if you got all the way
> Line 10 of "The Iliad" I'm impressed. Actually it's about Line 5, "Dios d'
> eteleieto Boulay," And bully, bully still on picking up on the middle
> although the .
>     But can anyone remember where Pound wrote something to the effect that
> man was reluctant to approach a classic through pages and pages of
> (Excuse the poor paraphrasing)
> Charles Moyer