BK. Ezra Pound

31. The Fourth Canto. London: Ovid, 1919.

    The pine at Takasago / grows with the pine of Ise. Reprinted with slight revisions as canto IV in subsequent collections.  

Pound’s suggestion to Harriet Monroe that he would incorporate Takasago (88d) into The Cantos (see 70c) becomes a reality here. The canto relates tales of betrayal and murder—the destruction of Troy, the rape of Philomela, Guillem de Cabestan’s heart on a dish, Actaeon torn to pieces by his own hounds—and set in contrast, in two brief lines, ‘The pine at Takasago / grows with the pine of Ise’ (57, p. 15), allusion to the work from the nô most exemplary of the purity and longevity of love. The pines in the canto are at Takasago and Ise and not, as in the play, at Takasago and Sumiyoshi. This is perhaps a misremembering by Pound—evidence exists that he did not retain a copy of his version of the play after posting it to Henderson in 1915 (see 88b)—but Miyake (191) argues that it is related to an intentional conflation of Isis with Kannon, who appears at Ise in the nô play TAMURA (17i). Whether Sumiyoshi or Ise, however, the image of the pines must be seen in counterpoint to the violence of the Greek and Provençal tales that surround it, representing an ideal of love, family, and the state, as in the play itself. In addition to this controlling image, other sources in Japanese materials have been noted. Fang (102) was the first to point out that the Sô-Gyoku episode (pp. 15-16) must have come from Japanese sources, since the name is a Japanese transliteration of characters for the Chinese poet Sung Yü, whose work is incorporated into the canto. Edwards and Vasse (101) suggest that Pound’s source for the lines is Waley, but the Sung Yü poem is among the Fenollosa manuscripts Pound received from Mary Fenollosa, and so surely that would have been his primary source. In addition, Terrell (158) finds the ‘Tree of Visages’ (p. 15) derived from a mistranslation of lines in Takasago, and Shioji (200) suggests an influence in the canto from Pound’s understanding of haiku. See particularly Baumann (115) and Bush (145) for cogent analysis of the importance of the introduction of Takasago into the poem, and see also 38, 79, 151, and 203. Reprinted, with slight revisions, as canto IV in 35, 41, and 57.





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