Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Graves on Pound

So they were both equally dedicated to the craft of writing poetry, both professionally obsessed with other languages and both equally daffy in their own ways.
I prefer Graves' version of nuts which is a gentler old fashioned kind of lunacy.
There's a story he told about meeting Pound in T.E Lawrence's "rooms" at University. Pound was visiting Lawrence who was an expert on things provencal...
Lawrence; Pound, Graves: Graves Pound. You won't like each other.

This is Mr. Graves on the Cantos
It is an extraordinary paradox that Pound's sprawling, ignorant, indecent, unmelodious, seldom metrical cantos, embellished with esoteric chinese idiographs-for all I know they may have been traced from the nearest tea chest-and with illiterate Greek, Latin, Spanish and Provencal snippets (the Italian and French read all right to me but I may be mistaken) are now compulsory reading in many ancient seats of learning. If ever one comes across a relatively simple Blake-like passage in the cantos, sandwiched between direct quotations from history textbooks and snarling polyglot parenthesis , this is how it sounds. Forgive me but we are all adults here...

Quotes from cantos

even Whitman's barbaric Yawp was hardly as barbaric as that. But remove the layers and layers of cloacinal ranting, snook-cocking, pseudo-professional jargon and double talk from Pound's verse, and what remains? Only Longfellow's plump, soft ill-at-ease grandnephew remains!

Maybe Lawrence was right.


Unknown said...

Oh that's irascible Graves to the nth. Didn't pull his punches, eh? Not as an ex-boxer anyway :)

Liam Guilar said...

Hope you are feeling better?
One of the many things I like about Graves is the way his practice and criticism informed each other. In many other poets there seems to be a drift between their critical statements about poetry and the poetry they write?
And Pound is so very guilty of that in the Cantos.