Early Poems

Early Poems

by Ezra Pound


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American poet Ezra Pound (1885–1972) was among the most influential literary figures of the twentieth century. As a poet, he founded the Imagist movement (c. 1909–17), which advocated the use of precise, concrete images in a free-verse setting. As an editor, he fostered the careers of William Butler Yeats, T. S. Eliot, and Robert Frost. As a force in the literary world, he championed James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis. Pound also helped to create a modern movement in poetry in which, in T. S. Eliot's words, "English and American poets collaborated, knew each other's works, and influenced each other."
Long an expatriate, Pound's questionable political activities during World War II distracted many from the value of his literary work. Nevertheless, his status as a major American poet has never been in doubt, as this choice collection of fifty-seven early poems amply proves. Here are poems — including a number not found in other anthologies — from Personae (1909), Exultations (1909), Ripostes (1912), and Cathay (1915) as well as selections from his major sequence "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley" (1920).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780486287454
Publisher: Dover Publications
Publication date: 11/18/2015
Series: Dover Thrift Editions
Edition description: Unabridged
Pages: 64
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.20(d)
Age Range: 14 Years

About the Author

A mentor to T. S. Eliot and Ernest Hemingway and other prominent writers of the 1920s and '30s, Ezra Pound (1885–1972) was one of America's most influential and controversial poets and critics. A major figure of the early modernist movement, the expatriate author began his contributions to poetry with his development of Imagism, a movement derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry that stressed clarity, precision, and economy of language.

Read an Excerpt

Early Poems


Dover Publications, Inc.

Copyright © 1996 Dover Publications, Inc.
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-486-81002-7


    Grace before Song

      Lord God of heaven that with mercy dight
    Th' alternate prayer-wheel of the night and light
    Eternal hath to thee, and in whose sight
    Our days as rain drops in the sea surge fall,

    As bright white drops upon a leaden sea
    Grant so my songs to this grey folk may be:

    As drops that dream and gleam and falling catch the sun,
    Evan scent mirrors every opal one
    Of such his splendour as their compass is,
    So, bold My Songs, seek ye such death as this.


    Italian Campagna 1309, the open road.

    Bah! I have sung women in three cities,
    But it is all the same;
    And I will sing of the sun.

    Lips, words, and you snare them,
    Dreams, words, and they are as jewels,
    Strange spells of old deity,
    Ravens, nights, allurement:
    And they are not;
    Having become the souls of song.

    Eyes, dreams, lips, and the night goes.
    Being upon the road once more,
    They are not.
    Forgetful in their towers of our tuneing
    Once for Wind-runeing
    They dream us-toward and
    Sighing, say "Would Cino,
    Passionate Cino, of the wrinkling eyes,
    Gay Cino, of quick laughter,
    Cino, of the dare, the Jibe,
    Frail Cino, strongest of his tribe
    That tramp old ways beneath the sun-light,
    Would Cino of the Luth were here!"

    Once, twice, a year —
    Vaguely thus word they:
      "Cino?" "Oh, eh, Cino Polnesi
      The singer is't you mean?"
      "Ah yes, passed once our way,
      A saucy fellow, but....
      (Oh they are all one these vagabonds),
      Pestel 'tis his own songs?
      Or some other's that he sings?
      But you, My Lord, how with your city?"

    But you "My Lord," God's pity!
    And all I knew were out, My Lord, you
    Were Lack-land Cino, e'en as I am
    O Sinistro.

    I have sung women in three cities.
    But it is all one.
    I will sing of the sun.
    .... eh?.... they mostly had grey eyes,
    But it is all one, I will sing of the sun.

      "'Polio Phoibee, old tin pan, you
      Glory to Zeus' aegis-day
      Shield o'steel-blue, th' heaven o'er us
      Hath for boss thy lustre gay!

      "'Pollo Phoibee, to our way-fare
      Make thy laugh our wander-lied;
      Bid thy 'fulgence bear away care.
      Cloud and rain-tears pass they fleet!

      Seeking e'er the new-laid rast-way
      To the gardens of the sun....

    I have sung women in three cities
    But it is all one.

    I will sing of the white birds
    In the blue waters of heaven,
    The clouds that are spray to its sea.

Na Audiart

Que be-m vols mal.

Note: Any one who has read anything of the troubadours knows well the tale of Bertran of Born and My Lady Maent of Montaignac, and knows also the song he made when she would none of him, the song wherein he, seeking to find or make her equal, begs of each preeminent lady of Langue d'Oc some trait or some fair semblance: thus of Cembelins her "esgart amoros" to wit, her love-lit glance, of Aelis her speech free-running, of the Vicomptess of Chales her throat and her two hands, at Roacoart of Anhes her hair golden as Iseulfs; and even in this fashion of Lady Audiart "although she would that ill come unto him" he sought and praised the lineaments of the torse. And all this to make "Uqa dompna soiseubuda" a borrowed lady or as the Italians translated it "Una donna ideale."

    Though thou well dost wish me ill
    Audiart, Audiart,
    Where thy bodice laces start
    As ivy fingers clutching through
    Its crevices,
    Audiart, Audiart,
    Stately, tall and lovely tender
    Who shall render
    Audiart, Audiart
    Praises meet unto thy fashion?
    Here a word kiss!
    Pass I on
    Unto Lady "Miels-de-Ben,"
    Having praised thy girdle's scope,
    How the stays ply back from it;
    I breathe no hope
    That thou shouldst....
    Nay no whit
    Bespeak thyself for anything.
    Just a word in thy praise, girl,
    Just for the swirl
    Thy satins make upon the stair,
    'Cause never a flaw was there
    Where thy torse and limbs are met:
    Though thou hate me, read it set
    In rose and gold,
    Or when the minstrel, tale half told,
    Shall burst to lilting at the phrase
    "Audiart, Audiart"....
    Bertrans, master of his lays,
    Bertrans of Aultaforte thy praise
    Sets forth, and though thou hate me well,
    Yea though thou wish me ill
    Audiart, Audiart
    Thy loveliness is here writ till,
    Oh, till thou come again.
    And being bent and wrinkled, in a form
    That hath no perfect limning, when the warm
    Youth dew is cold
    Upon thy hands, and thy old soul
    Scorning a new, wry'd casement
    Churlish at seemed misplacement
    Finds the earth as bitter
    As now seems it sweet,
    Being so young and fair
    As then only in dreams,
    Being then young and wry cl,
    Broken of ancient pride
    Thou shalt then soften,
    Knowing I know not how
    Thou wert once she
    Audiart, Audiart
    For whose fairness one forgave
    Audiart, Audiart
    Que be-m vols mal.

    Villonaud for This Yule

    Towards the Noel that morte saison
    (Christ make the shepherd's homage dear!)
    Then when the grey wolves everychone
    Drink of the winds their chill small-beer
    And lap o' the snows food's gueredon
    Then makyth my heart his yule-tide cheer
    (Skoal! with the dregs if the clear be gone!)
    Wineing the ghosts of yester-year.

    Ask ye what ghosts I dream upon?
    (What of the magians' scented gear?)
    The ghosts of dead loves everyone
    That make the stark winds reek with fear
    Lest love return with the foison sun
    And slay the memories that me cheer
    (Such as I drink to mine fashion)
    Wineing the ghosts of yester-year.

    Where are the joys my heart had won?
    (Saturn and Mars to Zeus drawn near!)
    Where are the lips mine lay upon,
    Aye! where are the glances feat and clear
    That bade my heart his valour don?
    I skoal to the eyes as grey-blown mere
    (Who knows whose was that paragon?)
    Wineing the ghosts of yester-year.

    Prince: ask me not what I have done
    Nor what God hath that can me cheer
    But ye ask first where the winds are gone
    Wineing the ghosts of yester-year.

    Ballad of the Gibbet: a Villonaud

    Or the song of the sixth companion.

    Scene: "En cest bourdel ou tenoms nostr estat"
    It being remembered that there were six of us with Master Villon, when
    that expecting presently to be hanged he writ a ballad whereof ye know:
    "Frères humains qui après nous vivez."

      Drink ye a skoal for the gallows tree!
    Francois and Margot and thee and me,
    Drink we the comrades merrily
    That said us, "Till then" for the gallows tree!

      Fat Pierre with the hook gauche-main,
    Thomas Larron "Ear-the-less,"
    Tybalde and that armouress
    Who gave this poignard its premier stain
    Pinning the Guise that had been fain
    To make him a mate of the "Hault Noblesse"
    And bade her be out with ill address
    As a fool that mocketh his drue's disdeign.

      Drink we a skoal for the gallows tree!
    Francois and Margot and thee and me,
    Drink we to Marienne Ydole,
    That hell brenn not her o'er cruelly.

      Drink we the lusty robbers twain,
    Black is the pitch o' their wedding dress,
    Lips shrunk back for the wind's caress
    As lips shrink back when we feel the strain
    Of love that loveth in hell's disdeign
    And sense the teeth through the lips that press
    'Gainst our lips for the soul's distress
    That striveth to ours across the pain.

      Drink we skoal to the gallows tree!
    Francois and Margot and thee and me,
    For Jehan and Raoul de Vallerie
    Whose frames have the night and its winds in fee.

      Maturin, Guillaume, Jacques d'Allmain,
    Culdou lacking a coat to bless
    One lean moiety of his nakedness
    That plundered St. Hubert back o' the fane:
    Aie! the lean bare tree is widowed again
    For Michault le Borgne that would confess
    In "faith and troth" to a traitoress
    "Which of his brothers had he slain?"

      But drink we skoal to the gallows tree!
    Francois and Margot and thee and me:

    These that we loved shall God love less
    And smite alway at their faibleness?

    Skoal!! to the Gallows! and then pray we:
    God damn his hell out speedily
    And bring their souls to his "Haulte Citee."

    Scriptor Ignotus

    Ferrara 1715

    TO K. R. H.

    "When I see thee as some poor song-bird
    Battering its wings, against this cage we call Today,
    Then would I speak comfort unto thee,
    From out the heights I dwell in, when
    That great sense of power is upon me
    And I see my greater soul-self bending
    Sibylwise with that great forty-year epic
    That you know of, yet unwrit
    But as some child's toy 'tween my fingers,
    And see the sculptors of new ages carve me thus,
    And model with the music of my couplets in their hearts:

    Surely if in the end the epic
    And the small kind deed are one;
    If to God, the child's toy and the epic are the same,
    E'en so, did one make a child's- toy,
    He might wright it well
    And cunningly, that the child might
    Keep it for his children's children
    And all have joy thereof.

    Dear, an this dream come true,
    Then shall all men say of thee
    "She 'twas that played him power at life's morn,
    And at the twilight Evensong,
    And God's peace dwelt in the mingled chords
    She drew from out the shadows of the past,
    And old world melodies that else
    He had known only in his dreams
    Of Iseult and of Beatrice.

    Dear, an this dream come true,
    I, who being poet only,
    Can give thee poor words only,
    Add this one poor other tribute,
    This thing men call immortality.
    A gift I give thee even as Ronsard gave it.
    Seeing before time, one sweet face grown old,
    And seeing the old eyes grow bright
    From out the border of Her fire-lit wrinkles,
    As she should make boast unto her maids
    "Ronsard hath sung the beauty, my beauty,
      Of the days that I was fair."

    So hath the boon been given, by the poets of old time
    (Dante to Beatrice, — an I profane not —)
    Yet with my lesser power shall I not strive
       To give it thee?

    All ends of things are with Him
    From whom are all things in their essence.
    If my power be lesser
    Shall my striving be less keen?
    But rather more! if I would reach the goal,
       Take then the striving!
    "And if," for so the Florentine hath writ
    When having put all his heart
    Into his "Youth s Dear Book"
    He yet strove to do more honour
    To that lady dwelling in his inmost soul
    He would wax yet greater
    To make her earthly glory more.
    Though sight of hell and heaven were price thereof,
    If so it be His will, with whom
    Are all things and through whom
    Are all things good,
    Will I make for thee and for the beauty of thy music
    A new thing
    As hath not heretofore been writ.
       Take then my promise!


Excerpted from Early Poems by Ezra Pound, THOMAS CROFTS. Copyright © 1996 Dover Publications, Inc.. Excerpted by permission of Dover Publications, Inc..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


From Personae, 1909,
Grace before Song, 1,
Cino, 1,
Na Audiart, 3,
Villonaud for This Yule, 5,
Ballad of the Gibbet: a Villonaud, 6,
Scriptor Ignotus, 7,
Comraderie, 9,
Masks, 10,
Xenia, 10,
Alba Belingalis, 11,
From Syria, 12,
From the Saddle, 13,
And Thus in Nineveh, 14,
From Exultations, 1909,
Guido Invites You Thus, 14,
Sestina: Altaforte, 15,
Piere Vidal Old, 16,
Ballad of the Goodly Fere, 19,
Hymn III, 19,
Portrait, 21,
"Fair Helena" by Rackham, 21,
Francesca, 22,
Christophori Columbi Tumulus, 22,
Plotinus, 23,
On His Own Face in a Glass, 23,
Histrion, 23,
Defiance, 24,
A Song of the Virgin Mother, 24,
Planh for the Young English King, 25,
Alba Innominata, 26,
From Ripostes, 1913,
Silet, 27,
Apparuit, 28,
The Tomb at Akr Çaar, 29,
Portrait (Tune Femme, 30,
The Seafarer, 31,
Echoes, 33,
An Immortality, 34,
Dieu! Qu'il la Fait, 35,
The Needle, 36,
The Picture, 36,
Of Jacopo del Sellaio, 36,
Cathay, 1915,
Song of the Bowmen of Shu, 37,
The Beautiful Toilet, 37,
The River Song, 38,
The River-Merchants Wife: a Letter, 39,
The Jewel Stairs' Grievance, 40,
Poem by the Bridge at Ten-Shin, 40,
Lament of the Frontier Guard, 41,
Exile s Letter, 42,
Four Poems of Departure, 44,
Separation on the River Kiang, 45,
Taking Leave of a Friend, 45,
Leave-Taking near Shoku, 45,
The City of Choan, 46,
South-Folk in Cold Country, 46,
Fragment, 47,
Couplet, 47,
From Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, 1920,
Hugh Selwyn Mauberly: Life and Contacts [first nine sections], 47,

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