Canto XIV

Ezra Pound

 
Io venni in luogo d'ogni luce muto;
The stench of wet coal, politicians
. . . . . . . . . . e and. . . . . n, their wrists bound to
    their ankles,
Standing bare bum,
Faces smeared on their rumps,
    wide eye on flat buttock,
Bush hanging for beard,
    Addressing crowds through their arse-holes,
Addressing the multitudes in the ooze,
    newts, water-slugs, water-maggots,
And with them. . . . . . . r,
    a scrupulously clean table-napkin
Tucked under his penis,
    and. . . . . . . . . . . m
Who disliked colioquial language,
stiff-starched, but soiled, collars
    circumscribing his legs,
The pimply and hairy skin
    pushing over the collar's edge,
Profiteers drinking blood sweetened with sh-t,
And behind them. . . . . . f and the financiers
    lashing them with steel wires.
And the betrayers of language
    . . . . . . n and the press gang
And those who had lied for hire;
the perverts, the perverters of language,
    the perverts, who have set money-lust
Before the pleasures of the senses;
howling, as of a hen-yard in a printing-house,
    the clatter of presses,
the blowing of dry dust and stray paper,
fretor, sweat, the stench of stale oranges,
dung, last cess-pool of the universe,
mysterium, acid of sulphur,
the pusillanimous, raging;
plunging jewels in mud,
    and howling to find them unstained;
sadic mothers driving their daughters to bed with decrepitude,
sows eating their litters,
and here the placard ΕΙΚΩΝ ΓΗΣ,
    and here: THE PERSONNEL CHANGES,
melting like dirty wax,
    decayed candles, the bums sinking lower,
faces submerged under hams,
And in the ooze under them,
reversed, foot-palm to foot-palm,
    hand-palm to hand-palm, the agents provocateurs
The murderers of Pearse and MacDonagh,
    Captain H. the chief torturer;
The petrified turd that was Verres,
    bigots, Calvin and St. Clement of Alexandria!
black-beetles, burrowing into the sh-t,
The soil a decrepitude, the ooze full of morsels,
lost contours, erosions.
    Above the hell-rot
the great arse-hole,
    broken with piles,
hanging stalactites,
    greasy as sky over Westminster,
the invisible, many English,
    the place lacking in interest,
last squalor, utter decrepitude,
the vice-crusaders, fahrting through silk,
    waving the Christian symbols,
. . . . . . . . frigging a tin penny whistle,
Flies carrying news, harpies dripping sh-t through the air.
The slough of unamiable liars,
    bog of stupidities,
malevolent stupidities, and stupidities,
the soil living pus, full of vermin,
dead maggots begetting live maggots,
    slum owners,
usurers squeezing crab-lice, pandars to authori
pets-de-loup, sitting on piles of stone books,
obscuring the texts with philology,
    hiding them under their persons,
the air without refuge of silence,
    the drift of lice, teething,
and above it the mouthing of orators,
    the arse-belching of preachers.
    And Invidia,
the corruptio, fretor, fungus,
liquid animals, melted ossifications,
slow rot, fretid combustion,
    chewed cigar-butts, without dignity, without tragedy
. . . . .m Episcopus, waving a condom full of black-beetles,
monopolists, obstructors of knowledge.
    obstructors of distribution.
 
"Canto XIV" by Ezra Pound, from The Cantos of Ezra Pound, copyright © 1934, 1937, 1940, 1948, 1956, 1959, 1962, 1963, 1966, 1968 by Ezra Pound. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

Poems by This Author

Ballad of the Goodly Fere by Ezra Pound
Ha' we lost the goodliest fere o' all
Canto I by Ezra Pound
And then went down to the ship,
Coda by Ezra Pound
O my songs
Come My Cantilations by Ezra Pound
Come my cantilations
Hugh Selwyn Mauberly [excerpt] by Ezra Pound
For three years, out of key with his time,
In a Station of the Metro by Ezra Pound
The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Notes for Canto CXX by Ezra Pound
I have tried to write Paradise
Papyrus by Ezra Pound
Spring . . . . . . .
Portrait d'une Femme by Ezra Pound
Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea
Sestina: Altaforte by Ezra Pound
Damn it all! all this our South stinks peace.
The Coming of War: Actæon by Ezra Pound
An image of Lethe
The Return by Ezra Pound
See, they return; ah, see the tentative
The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter by Ezra Pound
While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead


Further Reading

Poems About Hell
The Aeneid, Book VI, [First, the sky and the earth]
by Virgil
A Myth of Devotion
by Louise Glück
A Season in Hell
by Arthur Rimbaud
Descriptions of Heaven and Hell
by Mark Jarman
Hellish Night
by Arthur Rimbaud
How Can It Be I Am No Longer I
by Lucie Brock-Broido
I Am a Cowboy in the Boat of Ra
by Ishmael Reed
Medusa
by Patricia Smith
Orfeo
by Jack Spicer
Proverbs of Hell
by William Blake
Silence Raving
by Clayton Eshleman
Slim Greer in Hell
by Sterling A. Brown
Song of Devils
by Thomas Shadwell
Strange Meeting
by Wilfred Owen
Styx
by Dana Levin
The Bistro Styx
by Rita Dove
The Dead
by Mina Loy
The Philosophy of Pitchforks
by Sue Owen
The Pomegranate
by Eavan Boland
Worst Things First
by Mark Bibbins