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A sheep to Tiresias only, black and a bell-sheep.

The Cantos by Ezra Pound

Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides. Of youths and of the old who had borne much;. Souls stained with recent tears, girls tender,. These many crowded about me; with shouting,. Pallor upon me, cried to my men for more beasts;. Slaughtered the herds, sheep slain of bronze;. To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine;. I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead,.

But first Elpenor came, our friend Elpenor,. Unwept, unwrapped in sepulchre, since toils urged other. Pitiful spirit. And I cried in hurried speech:. And Anticlea came, whom I beat off, and then Tiresias Theban,. Holding his golden wand, knew me, and spoke first:. Lie quiet Divus. I mean, that is Andreas Divus,. And he sailed, by Sirens and thence outward and away. Cypri munimenta sortita est, mirthful, orichalchi, with golden. Girdles and breast bands, thou with dark eyelids.

Of all the major literary figures in the twentieth century, Ezra Pound has been one of the most controversial; he has also been one of modern poetry's most important contributors. Eliot declared that Prose Home Harriet Blog.

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The Cantos

And then went down to the ship,. Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and. We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,. Heavy with weeping, and winds from sternward. Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,. Came we then to the bounds of deepest water,. Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever.

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Nor with stars stretched, nor looking back from heaven. Swartest night stretched over wretched men there. The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place. Here did they rites, Perimedes and Eurylochus,. First mead and then sweet wine, water mixed with white flour.

Endless Nights - Bill Cantos

The work describes the discovery of a sea route to India by Vasco da Gama. The 10 cantos of the poem are in ottava rima and amount to 1, stanzas.


The action of the poem begins after an introduction, an invocation, and a dedication to King Sebastian. The voyagers spend several days in Melinde on the east coast of Africa, and, at the request of the king of Melinde, da Gama recounts the entire history of Portugal, from its origins to the inception of their great voyage Cantos III, IV, and V.

These cantos contain some of the most compelling passages in the poem. When they reembark, Bacchus tries to arrange the shipwreck of the Portuguese fleet but is prevented by Venus, and da Gama is able to reach his destination, Calicut Kozhikode , now in Kerala state, southwestern India on the Malabar Coast.

On their homeward voyage the mariners chance upon the island Venus has created for them, and the nymphs reward them for their labours. One of the nymphs sings of the future deeds of the Portuguese, and the entertainment ends with a description of the universe given by da Gama and the Nereid Thetis. The sailors again set sail for home.

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    The Cantos of Ezra Pound

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