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The Lake Isle

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O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Give me in due time, I beseech you, a little tobacco-shop,
With the little bright boxes
piled up neatly upon the shelves
And the loose fragment cavendish
and the shag,
And the bright Virginia
loose under the bright glass cases,
And a pair of scales
not too greasy,
And the votailles dropping in for a word or two in passing,
For a flip word, and to tidy their hair a bit.

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco-shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn’d profession of writing,
where one needs one’s brains all the time.

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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The Tea Shop

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The girl in the tea shop
Is not so beautiful as she was,
The August has worn against her.
She does not get up the stairs so eagerly;
Yes, she also will turn middle-aged,
And the glow of youth that she spread about us
As she brought us our muffins
Will be spread about us no longer.
She also will turn middle-aged.

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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The Flame

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‘Tis not a game that plays at mates and mating,
Provençe knew;
‘Tis not a game of barter, lands and houses,
Provençe knew.
We who are wise beyond your dream of wisdom,
Drink our immortal moments; we ‘pass through’.
We have gone forth beyond your bonds and borders,
Provençe knew;
And all the tales of Oisin say but this:
That man doth pass the net of days and hours.
Where time is shrivelled down to time’s seed corn
We of the Ever-living, in that light
Meet through our veils and whisper, and of love.

O smoke and shadow of a darkling world,
These, and the rest, and all the rest we knew.
‘Tis not a game that plays at mates and mating,
‘Tis not a game of barter, lands and houses,
‘Tis not 4of days and nights’ and troubling years,
Of cheeks grown sunken and glad hair gone gray;
There is the subtler music, the clear light
Where time burns back about th’ eternal embers.
We are not shut from all the thousand heavens:
Lo, there are many gods whom we have seen,
Folk of unearthly fashion, places splendid,
Bulwarks of beryl and of chrysoprase.

Sapphire Benacus, in thy mists and thee
Nature herself’s turned metaphysical,
Who can look on that blue and not believe?

Thou hooded opal, thou eternal pearl,
O thou dark secret with a shimmering floor,
Through all thy various mood I know thee mine;
If I have merged my soul, or utterly
Am solved and bound in, through aught here on earth,
There canst thou find me, O thou anxious thou,
Who call’st about my gates for some lost me;
I say my soul flowed back, became translucent.
Search not my lips, O Love, let go my hands,
This thing that moves as man is no more mortal.
If thou hast seen my shade sans character,
If thou hast seen that mirror of all moments,
That glass to all things that o’ershadow it,
Call not that mirror me, for I have slipped
Your grasp, I have eluded.

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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The White Stag

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I ha’ seen them ‘mid the clouds on the heather.
Lo! they pause not for love nor for sorrow,
Yet their eyes are as the eyes of a maid to her lover,
When the white hart breaks his cover
And the white wind breaks the morn.

‘’Tis the white stag, Fame, we’re a-hunting,
Bid the world’s hounds come to horn!’

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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The River Song

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This boat is of shato-wood, and its gunwales are cut
magnolia,
Musicians with jewelled flutes and with pipes of gold
Fill full the sides in rows, and our wine
Is rich for a thousand cups.
We carry singing girls, drift with the drifting water,
Yet Sennin needs
A yellow stork for a charger, and all our seamen
Would follow the white gulls or ride them.
Kutsu’s prose song
Hangs with the sun and moon.

King So’s terraced palace
is now but barren hill,
But I draw pen on this barge
Causing the five peaks to tremble,
And I have joy in these words
like the joy of blue islands.
(If glory could last forever
Then the waters of Han would flow northward.)

And I have moped in the Emperor’s garden, awaiting an
order-to-write !
I looked at the dragon-pond, with its willow-coloured
water
Just reflecting the sky’s tinge,
And heard the five-score nightingales aimlessly singing.

The eastern wind brings the green colour into the island
grasses at Yei-shu,
The purple house and the crimson are full of Spring
softness.
South of the pond the willow-tips are half-blue and
bluer,
Their cords tangle in mist, against the brocade-like
palace.
Vine-strings a hundred feet long hang down from
carved railings,
And high over the willows, the fine birds sing to each
other, and listen,
Crying—‘Kwan, Kuan,’ for the early wind, and the feel
of it.
The wind bundles itself into a bluish cloud and wanders
off.
Over a thousand gates, over a thousand doors are the
sounds of spring singing,
And the Emperor is at Ko.
Five clouds hang aloft, bright on the purple sky,
The imperial guards come forth from the golden house
with their armour a-gleaming.
The Emperor in his jewelled car goes out to inspect his
flowers,
He goes out to Hori, to look at the wing-flapping storks,
He returns by way of Sei rock, to hear the new
nightingales,
For the gardens at Jo-run are full of new nightingales,
Their sound is mixed in this flute,
Their voice is in the twelve pipes here.

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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The Faun

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Ha! sir, I have seen you sniffing and snoozling
about among my flowers.
And what, pray, do you know about
horticulture, you capriped?
‘Come, Auster, come Apeliota,
And see the faun in our garden.
But if you move or speak
This thing will run at you
And scare itself to spasms.’

 

– Ezra Pound

 

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Safe And Sound

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My name is Nunty Cormorant
And my finance is sound,
I lend you Englishmen hot air
At one and three the pound.

I lend you Englishmen hot air
And I get all the beef
While you stalwart sheep of freedom
Are on the poor relief.

Wot oh! my buxom hearties,
What ain’t got work no more
And don’t know what bug is a-bitin’
To keep your feelin’s sore,

There is blokes in automobiles
And their necks sunk into fur
That keep on gettin’ usury
To make ’em cosier.

I read these fellers puts it
Most tidily away
And then lends out their printed slips
To keep the wolf away

From the vaults and combination
Safes in Thread and Needle street.
I wouldn’t ‘ave the needle
If I had more grub to eat.

Oh the needle is your portion,
My sufferin’ fellow men,
Till the King shall take the notion
To own his coin again.

 

– Ezra Pound

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