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from The H.D. Book (unpublished)

Robert Duncan

The drama of our time is the coming of all men into one fate, "the dream of everyone, everywhere." The fate or dream is the fate of more than mankind. Our secret Adam is written now in the script of the primal cell. We have gone beyond the reality of the incomparable nation or race, the incomparable Jehovah in the shape of a man, the incomparable Book or Vision, the incomparable species, in which identity might hold & defend its boundaries against an alien territory. All things have come now into their comparisons. But these comparisons are the correspondences that haunted Paracelsus, who saw also that the key to man’s nature was hidden in the larger nature.

In space this has meant the extension of our "where" into a world ecology. The O.E.D. gives 1873 as the earliest English use of the word in the translation of Haeckel’s History of Creation—"the great series of phenomena of comparative anatomy and ontogeny . . . oecology." The very form of man has no longer the isolation of a superior paradigm but is involved in its morphology in the cooperative design of all living things, in the life of everything, everywhere. We go now to the once-called primitive—to the bush man, the child, or the ape—not to read what we were but what we are. In the psychoanalysis of the outcast and vagabond, the neurotic and psychotic, we slowly discover the hidden features of our own emotional and mental processes. We hunt for the key to language itself in the dance of the bees or in the chemical code of the chromosomes.

The inspiration of Marx bringing economies into comparison and imagining a world commune, of Darwin bringing species into comparison and imagining a world family of the living in evolution, of Frazer bringing magic, rituals and gods into comparison and imagining a world cult — the inspiration growing in the nineteenth century of imperialist expansions was towards a larger community of man. In time, this has meant our "when" involves and is involved in an empire that extends into the past and future beyond times and eras, beyond the demarcations of history. Not only the boundaries of states or civilizations but also the boundaries of historical periods are inadequate to define the vital figure in which we are involved. "For the intense yearning which each of them has towards the other," Diotima tells Socrates in Plato’s Symposium, "does not appear to be the desire of lovers’ intercourse, but of something else which the soul of either evidently desires and cannot tell, and of which she has only a dark and doubtful presentiment."

The Symposium of Plato was restricted to a community of Athenians, gathered in the common creation of an arete, an aristocracy of spirit, inspired by the homo Eros, taking its stand against lower or foreign orders, not only of men but of nature itself. The intense yearning, the desire for something else, of which we too have only a dark and doubtful presentiment, remains, but our areté, our ideal of vital being, rises not in our identification in a hierarchy of higher forms but in our identification with the universe. To compose such a symposium of the whole, such a totality, all the old excluded orders must be included. The female, the proletariat, the foreign; the animal and vegetative; the unconscious and the unknown; the criminal and failure — all that has been outcast and vagabond must return to be admitted in the creation of what we consider we are.

The dissolving of boundaries of time, as in H. D.’s Palimpsest, so that Egyptian or Hellenistic ways invade the contemporary scene—The reorganization of identity to extend the burden of consciousness—this change of mind has been at work in many fields. The thought of primitives, dreamers, children, or the mad—once excluded by the provincial claims of common sense from the domain of the meaningful or significant— has been reclaimed by the comparative psychologies of William James, Freud, Levy- Bruhl, Piaget, by the comparative linguistics of Sapir or Whorf, brought into the community of a new epistemology.

"Past the danger point, past the point of any logic and of any meaning, and everything has meaning," H.D. writes in Bid Me To Live: "Start superimposing, you get odd composites, nation on nation." So, Malraux in his Psychology of Art hears "a furtive colloquy in progress between the statuary of the Royal Portals of Chartres and the great fetishes" beginning in museums of the mind where all the arts of man have been brought into the complex of a new idea of art and Man in their being superimposed. "Our art world is one," he writes in The Metamorphosis of the Gods, "in which a Romanesque crucifix and an Egyptian statue of a dead man can both be living presences." "In our imaginary museum the great art of Europe is but one great art among others, just as the history of Europe has come to mean one history among others." "Each civilization had its ‘high places’," he concludes in the introduction: "All mankind is now discovering its own. And these are not (as the nineteenth century took for granted) regarded as successive landmarks of art’s long pilgrimage through time. Just as Cezanne did not see Poussin as Tintoretto’s successor, Chartres does not mark an ‘advance’ on Angkor, or Borobudur, or the Aztec temples, any more than its Kings are an ‘advance’ on the Kwannon at Nara, on the Plumed Serpents, or on Pheidias’ Horsemen."

If, as Pound began to see in The Spirit of Romance, "All ages are contemporaneous", our time has always been, and the statement that the great drama of our time is the coming of all men into one fate is the statement of a crisis we may see as everpresent in Man wherever and whenever a man has awakened to the desire for wholeness in being. "The continuous present," Gertrude Stein called this sense of time and history, and she saw the great drama as man’s engagement in a composition of the contemporary. Man is always in the process of this composition. "The composition is the thing seen by every one living in the living they are doing," she writes in Composition As Explanation: "they are the composing of the composition that at the time they are living is the composition of the time in which they are living. It is that that makes living a thing they are doing."

"Nothing changes from generation to generation," she writes later in her lecture Portraits and Repetition, "except the composition in which we live and the composition in which we live makes the art which we see and hear." "Once started expressing this thing, expressing any thing there can be no repetition because the essence of that expression is insistence." "Each civilization insisted in its own way before it went away." To enter Into "our time", she saw as "a thing that is very troublesome", for life itself was a disturbance of all composition— "a fear a doubt and a judgement and a conviction", troubling the waters toward some needed "quality of distribution and equilibration."


The first person plural—the "we", "our", "us." is a communal consciousness in which the "I" has entered into the company of imagined like minds, a dramatic voice in which the readers and the man writing are gathered into one composition, in which we may find kindred thought and feeling, an insistence, in Plutarch or Dante, Plato or D.H. Lawrence, closer to our inner insistence than the thought and feeling of parents or neighbors. The discovery of self, time and world, is an entering into or tuning to possibilities of self, time and world, that are given.

"The single experience lodges in an individual consciousness and is, strictly speaking, incommunicable," Sapir writes in Language: "To be communicated it needs to be referred to a class which is tacitly accepted by the community as an identity. Thus, the single impression which I have of a particular house must be identified with all my other impressions of it. Further, my generalized memory or my ‘notion’ of this house must be merged with the notions that all other individuals who have seen the house have formed of it. The particular experience that we started with has now been widened so as to embrace all possible impressions or images that sentient beings have formed or may form of the house in question. In other words, the speech element ‘house’ is the symbol, first and foremost, not of a single perception, nor even of the notion of a particular object but of a ‘concept’, in other words, of a convenient capsule of thought that embraces thousands of distant experiences and that is ready to take in thousands more. If the single significant elements of speech are the symbols of concepts, the actual flow of speech may be interpreted as a record of the setting of these concepts into mutual relations."

There is no isolate experience of anything then, for to come into "house" or "dog", bread" or "wine", is to come into a company. Eros and Logos are inextricably mixed, daemons of an initiation in each of our lives into a new being. Every baby is surrounded by elders of a mystery. The first words, the "da-da" and "ma-ma", are keys given in a repeated ritual by parental priest and priestess to a locus for the child in his chaotic babbling, whereby from the oceanic and elemental psychic medium—warmth and cold, calm and storm, the moodiness previous to being—persons, Daddy and Mama, appear. But these very persons are not individual personalities but communal fictions of the family cultus, vicars of Father and Mother, as the Pope is a Vicar of Christ. The Child, the word "child", is himself such a persona, inaccessible to the personality of the individual, as the language of adult personal affairs is inaccessible to the child. To have a child is always a threat to the would-be autonomous personality, for the parent must take leave of himself in order to enter an other impersonation, evoking the powers of Fatherhood or Motherhood, so that the infant may be brought up from the dark of his individuality into a new light, into his Childhood. For the transition to be made at all, to come into the life of the spirit, in which this Kindergarten is a recreated stage set of the mythic Garden, means a poetry then, the making up of an imaginary realm in which the individual parents and infant participate in a community that exists in a time larger than any individual life-time, in a language. For "Father", "Mother", "Child", are living words, deriving their meaning from thousands of distinct experiences, and the actual flow of family life, like the actual flow of speech, "may be interpreted as the setting of these concepts into mutual relations." The toys of the nursery are not trivia but first given instruments of an extension in consciousness, our creative life. There is a travesty made of sacred objects when the building blocks that are also alphabet blocks, the animal and human dolls, the picture books, are rendered cute or babyish.

"The maturity of man— " Nietzsche writes in Beyond Good and Evil: "that means, to have reacquired the seriousness that one had as a child at play." In The Zohar of Moses of Leon, God Himself appears as Child-Creator-of-the-World: "When the Holy One, blessed be He, was about to make the world, all the letters of the Alphabet were still embryonic, and or two thousand years the Holy One blessed be He, had contemplated them and toyed with them. When He came to create the world, all the letters presented themselves before Him in, reversed order. The letter Tau advanced in front and pleaded: May it please Thee, O Lord of the world, to place me first in the creation of the world, seeing that I am the concluding letter of EMeTh (Truth) which is engraved upon Thy seal." One by one the letters present themselves. At the last, "the Beth then entered and said: O Lord of the world, may it please Thee to put me first in the creation of the world, since I represent the benedictions (Berakhoth) offered to Thee on high and below. The Holy One, blessed be He, said to her: Assuredly, with thee I will create the world, and thou shalt form the beginning in the creation of the world. The letter Aleph remained in her place without presenting herself. Said the Holy one, blessed be His name: Aleph, Aleph, wherefore comest thou not before Me like the rest of the letters? She answered: Because I saw all the other letters leaving Thy presence without any success. What, then, could I achieve there? And further, since Thou hast already bestowed on the letter Beth this great gift, it is not meet for the Supreme King to take away the gift which He has made to His servant and give it to another. The Lord said to her: Aleph, Aleph, although I will begin the creation of the world with the beth, thou wilt remain the first of letters. My unity shall not be expressed except through thee, on thee shall be based all calculations and operations of the world, and unity shall not be expressed save by the letter Aleph. Then the Holy One, blessed be His name, made higher-world letters of a large pattern and lower-world letters of a small pattern. It is therefore that we have here two words beginning with beth (Bereshith bara) "in-thebeginning He-created." and then two words beginning with aleph (Elohim eth) "God the."

In this primal scene, before the beginning of the world that is also here before the beginning of a writing, the Self contemplates and toys in a rite of play until the letters present themselves and speak; as in another primal scene, in a drama or play of the family, the child contemplates and plays with the sounds of a language in order to enter a world in which Father and Mother present themselves and speak. So too in the fullness of the imagination, blocks and even made-up playmates present themselves. The teddy bear was once in the shaman world of the great northern forests Grandfather or Folk-Father. The figures we play with, the members of our play world, given as they are, like the Katchina dolls of the Zuni child, are spirit figures. "My unity shall not be expressed except through thee," the Child-Creator promises. It is the first promise of love, "on thee shall be based all calculations and operations of the world."

These powers, the ambience in which all things of our world speak to us and in which we in turn answer, the secret allegiances of the world of play, the psychic depth of time transformed into eternity in which the conceptual persons of Father and Mother, Child and Play-Thing, exist—these are pre-rational. Brother and Sister have such an existence in the unreal that, where actual brother and sister do not exist or are unwilling to play the part, imaginary brother and sister may appear.

For men who declare themselves partisans of the rational mind at war with all other possibilities of being, the pre-rational or the irrational appears as an enemy within. It was not only the Poet, but Mother and Father also, that Plato would exclude from his Republic. In the extreme of the rationalist presumption, the nursery is not the nursery of an eternal child but of a grown-up, a rational man. Common sense and good sense exist in an armed citadel surrounded by the threatening countryside of phantasy, childishness, madness, irrationality. irresponsibility—an exile and despised humanity. In that city where Reason has preserved itself by retreating from the totality of the self, infants must play not with the things of the imagination nor entertain the lies of the poets but play house, government, business, philosophy or war. Before the guardians of this state the voices and persons of the Child-Creator stand condemned as auditory and visual hallucinations a dangerous non-sense.

In the world of the Zohar, dolls were not permitted. The Child plays with the letters of an alphabet and Logos is the creator of the world. Man is to take his reality from, to express his unity in, the letter. But this letter is, like the doll, alive to the mind. Tau presents herself and speaks, just as the bear in our nursery does. To the extent that once for us too alphabet blocks were animate, all future architectures and worlds are populated, and we are prepared to understand the world-experience of the Kabbalist.

In this world-experience rationality does not exist apart from the whole, but the understanding searches ever to picture the self in the ununderstandable. The human spirit draws its life from a tree larger and more various than knowing, and reason stands in need of a gift, "the gift of the queen to them that wander with her in exile."

There is a return in the imagination to the real, an ascent of the soul to its "root", that Hayyim Vital describes in his life work, The Tree of Life: "The imaginative faculty will turn a man’s thoughts to imagine, and picture as if it ascended in the higher worlds up to the roots of his soul . . . until the imagined image reaches its highest source and there the images of the supernal lights are imprinted on his mind as if he imagined and saw them in the same way in which his imaginative faculty normally pictures in his mind mental contents deriving from the world." We seem to be in the description of the process of a poem, for here too the mind imagines, but then enters a real it had not imagined, where the image becomes informed, from above or below, and takes over as an entity in itself, a messenger from a higher real. In his ascent the mystic is irradiated by the light of the tree and in his descent the light finds a medium through which to flow back into the daily world: "The thought of the prophet expands and rises from one level to another . . . until he arrives at the point where the root of his soul is. Next he concentrates on raising the light of the sefirah to En Sof and from there he draws the light down, from on high down to his rational soul, and from there, by means of the imaginative faculty, down to his animal soul, and there all things are pictured either by the inner senses of the imaginative faculty or by the outer senses."

Returning from En Sof, the unknowable, unimaginable God, from beyond sense, the imaginer, no longer imagining but realizing, carries a light from station to station, sefiroth to sefiroth, irradiating the imagined with reality, transforming the sense of the divine—the articulated Tree of Life—the cosmos, the rational soul and the animal soul, in light of a source that is a numinous non-sense or beyond sense.

This Tree, too, we saw each year, for at the birthday of the Child-Christos, we were as children presented with a tree from which or under which gifts appeared — wishes made real. This Christmas tree came, we know, from the tree-cults of the German tribes, ancestral spirits—a burning tree. But it is also a tree of lights, and where, in the time of Jacob Boehme, in the early seventeenth century, the Jewish and the Germanic mystery ways are wedded in one, the Christmas tree may have also been the Divine Tree of the Zohar, lit with the lights of the sefirah.

In this ritual of the imagination of Hayyim Vital, there is not only the ascent by pretending, the "as if" of his text, the pretension then, but the mystic is pretender to a throne, a "source" or "root" in the Divine. In the descent a magic is worked and all the pretended way of the ascent is rendered "greater than Reality". Not only the deep dream but the day dream enlightens or enlivens. "Occasionally," Werblowsky relates from Vital, "the imaginative faculty may even externalize or project the effects of this ‘light’ so that the experience becomes one of external sense impressions such as of the apparition of angelic messengers, the hearing of voices."

This Tree of Life is also the tree of generations, for its branches that are also roots are male and female, and the light or life is a mystery of the Shekinah, the ultimate Spirit-Mother of Israel as well as God’s Glory. The root or seed is a quickening source in the immortal or eternal womb, wherein each man is immortal.


In his study of Australian tribal rites, the psychoanalyst Geza Roheim draws another configuration of source, dream, and transformation of reality, that may cast further light on our way towards a picture of what is involved in poetry when the images and personae of a dream greater than reality appear as active forces in the poet’s world:

"Strehlow, who as a missionary living for decades among the Aranda was certainly an authority on their language, tells us that he cannot explain the meaning of the word altjira, it seems that the natives connect to it the concept of something that has no beginning—erin a itja arbmanakala, him none made. Spencer and Gillen, however, have given another interpretation of the word. In their glossary, we find ‘altjeringa: name applied by the Arunta, Kaitish, and Unmatjera tribes to the far past or dream times in which their mythical ancestors lived. The word altjeri means dream.’ Strehlow denies this; he says the word for dream is altjirerama: and gives the following etymology: altjira (god) rama (to see).

"For one thing, it is clear that altjira means dream and not god or ancestor (as Strehlow indicates) for I found that a folktale: a narrative with a happy end, is also called altjira. It is evident that Strehlow, from his preoccupation with Altjira (God) of the Aranda Bible, managed to miss the real meaning of the word. Altjira = dream, altjireramaa = to dream; altjirerinja = dreaming. This is as near as I could get to Spencer and Gillen’s altjeringa. Moses thought it must be a mistake for either altirerindja or altliranga. There was no name for any mythical period. The time when the ancestors wandered on earth was called altjiranga nakala, i.e. ‘ancestor was’, like ljata nama, i.e. ‘now is’. Other expressions were noted as equivalents of altjiranga nakala; these were imanka nakula, ‘long time ago was’, or kutata nakala, ‘eternally was’. This led us to the explanation and etymology of the word altjiranga mitjina. Mitjina is equivalent to kutata, ‘eternal’; nga is the ablative suffix from; therefore altjiranga mitjina = ‘the eternal ones from the dream or ‘the eternal people who come in dreams’. This is not my explanation, but that of the old men, Moses, Renana, and Jirramba. Another Aranda word for dream, ancestor, and story, is tnankara. It is not often used, and as far as I could see it means exactly the same as altjira."

In story and tribal rite, the Australian native seeks to convert time and space into an expression of his unity, to create a language of acts and things, of devouring and being devoured, of giving birth and being born, in which man and the world about him come into one body. "In an emu myth of the Aranda, Marakuja (Hands Bad), the old man emu, takes his bones out and transforms them into a cave . . .The kangaroo men take the mucus from their noses; it becomes a stone still visible now. The rocks become black where they urinate." Here the altjiranga mitjina, the ones living in a dream of time more real than the mortality of the time past, invade the immediate scene. For the Australian as for Heraclitus, "Immortal mortals mortal immortals, their being dead is the other’s life," The things lost in time return and are kept in the features of the place. "Environment is regarded as if it were derived from human beings," Roheim observes.

In repeated acts —bleeding, pissing, casting mucus, spitting into the ground, or in turn, eating the totemic food and drinking the blood of the fathers—the boy is initiated into the real life of the tribe. "An old man sits beside him and whispers into his ear the totemic name. The boy then calls out the esoteric name as he swallows the food. The emphasis on the place name in myth and ritual can only mean one thing, that both myth and ritual are an attempt to cathect environment with libido . . . The knowledge of the esoteric name ‘aggregates’ unites the boy to the place or to the animal species or to anything that was strange before"

The "beast, anus, semen, urine, leg, foot" in the Australian song, chant or enchantment, that is also hill, hole, see, stream, tree or rock, where "in the Toara ceremony the men dance around the ring shouting the names of male and female genital organs, shady trees, hills, and some of the totems of their tribe," are most familiar to the Freudian convert Roheim. He sees with a sympathy that rises from the analytic cult in which Freud has revived in our time a psychic universe in which dream has given a language where, by a "sexual obsession" (as Jung calls it), the body of man and the body of creation are united.

The "blood" of the Aranda, the "libido" of the Freudian, may also be the "light" of our Kabbalist text. "En Sof," Gershom Scholem tells us in Major Trends in Jewish Mysticism: "is not only the hidden Root of all Roots

it is also the sap of the tree; every branch representing an attribute, exists not by itself but by virtue of En Sof, the hidden God. And this tree of God is also, as it were, the skeleton of the universe; it grows throughout the whole of creation and spreads branches through all its ramifications. All mundane and created things exist only because something of the power of the Sefiroth lives and acts in them.

The simile of man is as often used as that of the Tree. The Biblical word that man was created in the image of God means two things to the Kabbalist: first, that the power of the Sefiroth, the paradigm of divine life, exists and is active also in man. Secondly, that the world of the Sefiroth, that is to say the world of God the Creator, is capable of being visualized under the image of man the created. From this it follows that the limbs of the human body are nothing but images of a certain spiritual node of existence which manifests itself in the symbolic figure of Adam Kadmon, the primordial man. The Divine Being Himself cannot be expressed. All that can be expressed are His symbols. The relation between En Sof and its mystical qualities, the Sefiroth, is comparable to that between the soul and the body, but with the difference that the human body and soul differ in nature, one being material and the other spiritual, while in the organic whole of God all spheres are substantially the same."

"The world of the Sefiroth is the hidden world of language," Scholem continues, "the world of divine names." "Totemic names," Roheim calls the whispered pass-words of the Australian rite."The creative names which God called into the world," Scholem calls the Sefiroth, "the names which He gave to Himself." It is the alphabet of letters revealed to the initiate as at once the alphabet of what he is and what the universe is and the alphabet of eternal persons.

As Scholem hints, "the conception of the Sefiroth as parts or limbs of the mystical anthropos leads to an anatomical symbolism which does not shrink from the most extravagant conclusions." Man’s "secret parts" are secret names or hidden keys to the whole figure of man, charged with magic in their being reserved. In the communal image, the human figure is male and female. Ass-hole, penis, cunt, navel, were not only taboo but sacred, words to be revealed in initiations of the soul to the divine body, as at Eleusis the cunt of a woman in the throws of birth was shown. In what we call carnal knowledge, in the sexual union of male and female nakedness, God and His creation, the visible and invisible, the above and the below are also united.

Ham, who sees the nakedness of his father, is the prototype of the Egyptian who in an alien or heretic religion knows the secrets of God. To steal a look, like the theft of fire, is a sin, for the individual seeks to know without entering the common language in which things must be seen and not seen.

"At the initiation ceremony the point is to displace libido from the mother to the group of fathers," Roheim writes. In the contemporaneity of our human experience with all it imagines, there may be not a displacement but an extension of libido: the revelation of the mother remains, the revelation of the male body is added. "Some old men stand in the ring and catching hold of their genitals tell the boys to raise their eyes and take particular notice of those parts. The old men next elevate their arms above their heads and the boys are directed to look at their armpits. Their navels are exhibited in the same way. The men then put their fingers on each side of their mouths and draw their lips outward as wide as possible, lolling out their tongues and inviting the special attention of the novices. They next turn their backs and, stooping down, ask the novices to take particular notice of their posterior parts."

For Roheim, the images and magic of Australian story and rite are one with the images and magic of all dreams:

After having withdrawn cathexis from environment, we fall asleep. But when the cathexis is concentrated in our own bodies we send it out again and form a new world, in our dreams. If we compare dream mechanisms with the narratives of dream-times we find an essential similarity between the two. The endless repetitions of rituals and wanderings and hunting are indeed very different from a dream; but when we probe deeper we find that they are overlaid by ceremony and perhaps also by history. The essential point in the narratives as in the ritual is that man makes the world—as he does in sleep.

These natives do not wander because they like to...Man is naturally attached to the country where he was born because it, more than anything else, is a symbol of his mother. All natives will refer to their ‘place’ as a ‘great place’; as they say ‘I was incarnated there’ or ‘born there’. Economic necessity, however, compels him time and again to leave his familiar haunts and go in search of food elsewhere. Against this compulsion to repeat separation, we have the fantasy embodied in myth and ritual in which he himself creates the world.

Where the nursing woman and the countryside itself are both "Mother", and where in turn the men of the tribe may initiate and reveal maleness as an other Mother, "Mother" means unity, what Gertrude Stein called the Composition. What we experience in dreaming is not a content of ourselves but the track of an inner composition of ourselves. We are in-formed by dreams, as in daily life we experience that which we are able to grasp as information. We see, hear, taste, smell, feel, what can be drawn into a formal relation; to sense at all involves attention and composition. "It is very interesting that nothing inside in them, that is when you consider the very long history of how every one ever acted or has felt, it is very interesting that nothing inside in them in all of them makes it connectedly different," Stein writes in Composition As Explanation: "The only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything. This makes the thing we are looking at very different and this makes what those who describe it make of it, it makes a composition, it confuses, it shows, it is, it looks, it likes it as it is, and this makes what is seen as it is seen." The endless repetitions of rituals and wanderings and hunting as the pattern of life for the Australian is a living inside the Composition; and in their exhibiting the secrets of the male body to the boy, the men of the tribe are making a composition where what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything. In the ritual, song, parts of the body, parts of the landscape, man and nature, male and female, are united in a secret composite of magic names.

"One of the main sources of male creative power," Roheim tells us, "is the incantation itself." When I asked old Wapiti and the other chiefs what makes the animals grow? the spirits? the ancestors? O, no, they said: jelindja wars, the words only. The form of the incantation is an endless, monotonous flow of words, and actually the men urinate very frequently while performing the ceremonies. This parallelism between the words and the fluid is brought out in a description by Lloyd Warner: ‘The blood runs slowly and the rhythm of the song is conducted with equal slowness.In a second or two the blood spurts and runs in a rapid stream. The beat of the song sung by the old men increases to follow the rhythm of the blood.’

We may begin to see, given Stein’s concept of insistence that informs composition, and then thinking of the pulse of the living egg-cell itself, that beat, rhythm, underlies every figure of our experience. Life itself is an endless, monotonous flow, wherever the individual cannot enter into it as revealed in dance and melody to give rhythmic pattern; the world about goes inert and dead. The power of the painter in landscape is his revelation of such movement and rhythm in seeing, information, in what otherwise would have been taken for granted.

Gertrude Stein, reflecting upon permanence and change in the artist’s vision, sees that "the only thing that is different from one time to another is what is seen and what is seen depends upon how everybody is doing everything." Close to the Cubist Movement in Paris, she had experienced how painting or writing in a new way had otherwise hidden unborn experience of the world, so that one saw and heard with a profound difference. "A new cadence means a new idea," H.D. and Richard Aldington, writing in the Preface to the Imagist Anthology of 1916, declared. Here too, cadence is how it is done; to make clear the meaning of cadence they referred to the choral line of Greek poetry that was also the movement of the choraldance, strophe and antistrophe. So too, Roheim, initiate of Freudianism, as Stein was initiate of Cubism, or H.D. of Imagism, sees in the narratives of his Australian informants how "in all of them environment is made out of man’s activity," for he had himself experienced a conversion in which a new environment for man had been made out of analytic activity. The "manmade world." in which environment is regarded as if it were derived from human beings" is the narrative itself; the unity of things in how the story is told.

Parts and operations of the human body, but also parts and operations of the cosmos, are related in a new ground, a story or picture or play, in which feeling and idea of a larger whole may emerge. The flow of sound from the throat and the flow of urine from the bladder, the flow of energy from the dancing feet, the flow of forms in the landscape, the flow of water and of air felt, translated in a rhythmic identity disclose to the would-be initiate what man is but also what the world is—both other and more than he is himself, than the world itself is.

Cézanne working at his vision of Mont Sainte-Victoire or Dali at his paranoic vision of the Catalonian landscape not only draw but are drawn by what they draw. From body and from world towards an other body and other world, man derives meaning in a third element, the created—the rite, the dance, the narrative; the painting, the poem, the book. And in this new medium, in a new light, "man" and "environment" both are made up.

The power of the poet is to translate experience from daily time where the world and ourselves pass away as we go on into the future, from the journalistic record, into a melodic coherence in which words—sounds, meanings, images, voices—do not pass away or exist by themselves but are kept by rime to exist everywhere in the consciousness of the poem. The art of the poem, like the mechanism of the dream or the intent of the tribal myth and dromena, is a cathexis: to keep present and immediate a variety of times and places, persons and events. In the melody we make, the possibility of eternal life is hidden, and experience we thought lost returns to us.

The eternal ones of the dream," Roheim observes, "are those who have no

mothers;" they originated of themselves. Their immortality is a denial of the separation anxiety. Separation from the mother is painful; the child is represented in myth as fully formed, even before it enters the mother. The tjurunga from which it is born is born is both a phallic and a maternal symbol.

The tjuranga, like the cartouche that encircles the Pharaoh’s name as the course of the sun encircles the created world, is a drawing of the spirit being, an enclosure in which we see the primal identity of the person. But all primal identities are Adamic containing male and female, man and animal, in one. We are each separated from what we feel ourselves to be, from what we essentially are but also from the other we must be. Wherever we are we are creatures of other places; whenever we are, creatures of other times; whatever our experience, we are creatures of other imagined experiences. Not only the experience of unity but the experience of separation is the mother of man. The very feeling of melody at all depends upon our articulation of the separate parts involved. The movement is experienced as it arises from a constant disequilibrium and ceases when it is integrated.

"Composition is not there, it is going to be there, and we are here," Stein writes. Between there and here or then and now, the flame of life, our spirit, leaps. A troubled flame: "The time in composition is a thing that is very troublesome," Stein tells us - "If the time in the composition is very troublesome it is because there must be even if there is no time at all in the composition there must be time in the composition which is in its quality of distribution and equilibration."

An anxious flame: "In totemic magic the destroyed mother is re-animated and in the totemic sacrament, eternal union of the mother and child is effected," Roheim tells us. But the eternal separation of the mother and child is also celebrated therein. "As a religion it represents the genitalization of the separation period and the restitution that follows destructive trends." War, Heraclitus called the flame, or Strife. "All men are bringing to birth in their bodies and in their souls," who here speaks as an Eternal One of the Mother, says to Socrates.

There is a poetry, which, as you know, is complex and manifold. All creation or passage of non-being into being is poetry or making, and the processes of all arts are creative; and the masters of all arts are poets or makers ... What are they doing who show all this eagerness and heat which is called love? ... The object which they have in view is birth in beauty. Beyond beauty—birth in the eternal and universal.

"According to the natives of the Andjamatana tribe," Roheim tells us, "children originate in two mythical women known as maudlangami. They live in a place in the sky. Their long hair almost covers them and on their pendulum breasts are swarms of spirit children who gather their sustenance therefrom. These women are the source of all life, each within her tribe producing spirit children of her own moiety." But these women, we realize, are not first sources; they have their origin in turn in the telling of their story. In the communication of the story the narrator and the listeners have their source and all life has its source and draws eternal nourishment.

"Each Aranda or Juritja native has an immortal part or spirit double, whose immortality consists in eternally rejoining the Mother in the sacred totemic cave. From time to time they reidentify themselves with the eternal in them." It seems to Roheim that in the story "they deny their great dependence upon Mother Nature and play the role of Mothers themselves." But Mother Nature in the eternal bond with Man is Herself, as He is, the member of a cast in a drama. In the rites that Roheim sees as denials of dependence, we see the dancers reviving the human reality in all that is disturbing to union, involving themselves in, insisting upon, and taking their identity in, the loss of their identity, keeping the rime of their separation alive in the sound of their unity, rehearsing their exile in the place where they are. The flame springs up in a confusion of elements, times, places.

For the Freudian, it all rests in a "psychical survival of the biologic unity with environment." "This ‘oceanic feeling’ (Freud) or ‘dual unity situation’" Roheim argues, "is something we all experience in our own lives; it is the bond that unites mother and child." "By taking the tjurunga along on his wanderings the native never gives up the original bond of dual unity which ties the infant to his mother."

From the unity once known between Mother and Child, the boy is initiated in a rite in which things once unified in feeling are shown as separated—this is the anatomization of the Australian scene, where parts of the body are exhibited as independent entities; but it is also the anatomization practices in which the poet is born, where words once unified in the flow of speech—the Mother tongue which in turn had been articulated from the flow of sounds in the child’s earlier initiation—are shown as articulated—separated into particular sounds, syllables, meanings—in order to be reorganized in an other unity in which the reality of separation is kept as a conscious factor. The "Mother" is now the World, and the "Child" is the Self. The World is revealed as a "Creation" or "Poetry" or "Stage", and the Self, as "Creator" or "Poet" The man or the hero begins his life that demands something of him, a wandering in quest of something known in the unknown. Taking with him the quest itself as his Mother, as the Australian takes the tjurunga or the devout Kabbalist the Shekina, he is to be most at home in his exile.


Roheim telling about his Australian natives does not mean to initiate us into the Aranda but through his creation of the Aranda in our minds to initiate us into the psychoanalytic

fiction. The old men prancing, bleeding themselves and showing their private parts; the emu ancestors, the eternal ones who come in the dream, the primordial Mother and Child, are people not of the Australian bush but of a creative book, haunted by "the wanderings of human beings from the cradle to the grave in a web of daydream," as the author of this mankind himself wanders in a web of psychoanalytic reverie. "In the eternal one sof the dream it is we who deny decal and aggression and object-loss, and who guard eternal youth and reunion with the mother," Roheim writes in his coda:

The old and decrepit men of the tribe become young and glorious once more. Covered with birds’ down, the life symbol, they are identified with the eternally youthful ancestors. Mankind, the eternal child, splendide mendax, rise above reality ... The path is Eros, the force that delays disintegration; and hence the promise held forth in the daydream and in its dramatization is no illusion after all. The tjurunga which symbolizes both male and female genital organ, the primal scene and combined parent concept, the father and the mother, separation and reunion ... represents both the path and the goal.

This tjurunga we begin to see not as the secret identity of the Aranda initiate but as our own Freudian identity, the conglomerate consciousness of the mind we share with Roheim. "Above and below, left and right," the Kabbalist would have added in drawing his figure of the primordial man. The whole story is "daydream", a "web", and we are not sure that because the path is Eros, the child, but he is also splendide mendax, a glorious maker of fictions, in which all the conglomerate of what Man is might be contained. The simple tjurunga now appears to be no longer simple but the complex mobile, that Giedion on Mechanization Takes Command saw as most embodying our contemporary experience: "the whole construction is aerial and hovering as the next of an insect"—a suspended system, so contrived that "a draft of air or push of a hand will change the state of equilibrium and the interrelations of suspended elements...forming unpredictable, ever-changing constellations and so imparting to them the aspect of space-time."

If, as in Malraux’s Psychology of Art, we see painting and sculpture not only as discrete works but also as participants in a drama of forms playing throughout the time of man, so that what were once thought of as masterpieces of their time and place are now seen anew as moving expressions of—but more than expressions, creations and creators of – spiritual life, as acts of a drama of what Man is that has not come to its completion, but which we imagine as a changing totality called Art; so poems too begin to appear as members of a hovering system called Poetry. The draft of air or the touch of a hand reappears now as the inspiration or impulse of mind that will change states and interrelations—"time in the composition comes now," Gertrude Stein puts it, "and this what is troubling everyone the time in the composition is now a part of distribution and equilibration"—"past the danger point"—throughout the history of Man. History itself, no longer kept within the boundaries of periods or nations, appears as a mobile structure in which events may move in time in ever-changing constellations. The effort of Toynbee’s Study of History, beyond Spengler’s comparison of civilizations, is towards an interpenetration of what before seemed discrete, even alien, areas of the life of man. Present, past, future may then appear anywhere in changing constellations, giving life and depth to time. The Eternal Return, no longer conceived of as bound to revolutions of a wheel—the mandala of a Ptolemaic universe or of a Jungian Self—beyond the "organic" concept Toynbee derives from Vico’s life cycles, we begin to see now as an insistence of figure in an expanding universe of many relations. The Composition is there, we are here. But now the Composition and we too are never finished, centered, perfected. We are in motion and our meaning lies not in some last or lasting judgment, in some evolution or dialectic toward a higher force or consciousness, but in the content of the whole of us as Adam—the totality of mankind’s experience in which our moment, this vision of a universal possibility, plays its part; and beyond, the totality of life experience in which Man plays His part, not central, but in every living moment creating a new crisis in the equilibration of the whole. The whole seen as a mobile is a passionate impermanence in which Time and Eternity are revealed as One.

Elie Faure in The Spirit of Forms (from which, as from Spengler’s The Decline of the West, Malraux’s thought, we take it, develops) writes:

We have reached a critical point in history when it becomes impossible for us to think profoundly—or to create, I imagine—if we isolate ourselves in the adventure of our race, if we refuse to demand a confirmation of our own presentiments from the expression in words or in the arts that other races have given themselves ... One of the miracles of this time is that an increasing number of spirits should become capable not only of tasting the delicate or violent savor of these reputedly contradictory works and finding them equally intoxicating

(he speaks here of those fetishes and cathedral statues that Malraux in his work is to find "sinister" in their colloquy) but

even more than that, they can grasp, in the seemingly opposed characters, the inner accords that lead us back to man and show him to us everywhere animated by analogous passions, as witnessed by all the idols, for all of them are marked by the accent of these passions ... The critical spirit has become a universal poet. It is necessary to enlarge inordinately, and unceasingly, the circle of its horizon.

This "we" was "an increasing number", but it was also, Faure saw, a few, an élite - a cult, then, of "the mobility of the spirit, favored by the exigencies of environment and the mixture of the species", projecting "a limitless visible field of emotion and activity", towards a cathexis of all that was known of man and the word, in terms of an open and expanding consciousness, as our Aranda initiates project their field of emotion and activity in terms of a tribal consciousness as an enclosure of time and space. For the Australian, the hardness of Nature herself drives him out from his home-place. The Aranda is a man of an actual wasteland where he is again and again forced to wander in times of drought and famine when a man in want of water often opens a vein in his arm to drink the blood, and the brotherhood of the tribe must be kept in a constant imagination against the hunger in which men eat each other. Here the "we" is a term of survival itself. The creative fiction—the tribal narrative, the eternal ones of the dream, the spirit doubles, and the immoral sky-mothers—has its intensity of realization in the traumatic experience of the actual environment.

The esoteric tradition in Jewish mysticism again had its intensity in the loss of the home-land and in the long wandering in exile as children of a spirit-Mother, the Shekinah. She was the Glory, but She was also the Queen or Mother or Lady, and She might appear, as She does in The Zohar, as a great bird under whose celestial wings the immortal spirit-children of Israel nestled. The Jews, like the Aranda, lived in a threatening environment that called forth, if they were to survive, an insistent creation, the tenacity of a daydream to outlast the reality principle.

For the Imagists in London in 1912 there had already been exile. Pound, Eliot, and H.D., had sought a new spiritual home among eternal ones of the European dream, among Troubadors or the Melic poets, in refuge from the squalor and stupidity of the American mercantile, industrial and capitalist world—"the American dream", it was called. Joyce had chosen a voluntary exile from Ireland, "dear dirty Dublin"; and Lawrence had fled from his environment in the industrial working class village to wander in exile in search of his own Kingdom of the Sun.

It was the World War that provided the traumatic crisis—it was the very face of the civilization showing through at last, the triumph of squalor and stupidity where the cult of profits and the cult of empire combined to exact their tribute, and the other cultworld of the poetic vision was challenged as a reality. Only in the imagination would beauty survive. "I would bid them live," Pound sings in his Envoi to Mauberley in 1919

As roses might, in magic amber laid,

Red overwrought with orange and all made

One substance and one colour

Braving time...

He addresses in the Envoi a "her", whose "graces give/Life to the moment"—a Lady "that sang me once that song of Lawes", but also a Mother that the Imagist poets had taken—Beauty. To survive in spirit men must be reborn in Beauty’s magic amber, for the rest were revealed by War where

Died some pro patria, non dulce non et decor

walked eye-deep in hell

belieiving old men’s lies, then unbelieving

came home, home to a lie,

home to many deceits,

home to old lies and new infamy...

"Wrong from the start—" Pound describes himself: "No,"—

...hardly, but, seeing he had been born

In a half savage country, out of date...


They did not "belong". In that feeling their exile was not voluntary, but a recognition of necessity. In the poem "Cities" published in The Egoist in 1914, H.D.’s sense of a "we", a lonely few, isolated by their common devotion to beauty, and to the goods of the intellect, in the midst of a city of "them" who worship squalor, profit, and war, as the "one god", is not a phantastic attitude assumed but a feeling rooted in the social reality. "Can we believe," she proposes, "by an effort"

comfort our hearts:

it is not waste all this,

not placed here in disgust,

street after street,

each patterned alike,

no grace to lighten

a single house of the hundred

crowded into one garden-space.

Two ways of life—the one realized by the Protestant-Capitalist cult in its terms of usury, real estate, production for profit, and profitable work, and the other realized by the Military cult, in which old orders of Mithraic and Wotanic cult survived, in terms of Fatherland, death in battle, holocaust, and the hero’s reward in the Valhalla orgy and the memorial days—these two had combined forces in 1914 to make a new world. War was to become, as it is in our own day, the most profitable business, the foundation of the economy, and the economy was to become the cause of the soldier. Not "Light", as it had been for the Zoroastrian Mithraist, against "Darkness"; but the right of private property in the sense of capitalism against socialism or communism.

H.D. sees war-time London of the First World War in terms of the Platonic myth of the Golden Age and the Iron Age, and also, as in her War Trilogy London of the Second World War, in terms of the gnostic myth of souls from a creation of Light surviving in a second creation of Darkness. In "Cities", the maker of cities has made a second city and a second people—this is the hive of the modern metropolis, crowded with cells

hideous first, hideous now—

spread larvae across them,

not honey but seething life

And in these dark cells,

packed street after street

souls live, hideous yet—

O disfigured, defaced,

with no trace of the beauty

men once held so light.

Back of this world is the memory of another, first, city:

with the beauty of temple

and space before temple,

arch upon perfect arch,

of pillars and corridors that led out

to strange court-yards and porches

where sun-light stamped


black on the pavement.

It is the Poictiers or Verona of the first Cantos, and thirty years later in The Pisan Cantos it is "the city of Dioces whose terraces are the colour of stars" and also the Wagadu, the Mother-City of the Fasa, that four times in their wandering has been lost—" gone to sleep" the epic tale Gassire’s Lute puts it, as given by Frobenius in the sixth volume of Atlantis, his collection of African folktales and poetry. In the prison camp at Pisa the memory of Wagadu, four times fallen asleep— "once through vanity, once through breach of faith, once through greed, and once through dissension" —with the chorus naming the cities of its four incarnations—" Hoooh! Dierra, Agada, Ganna, Sillal — Hoooh! Fasa!"—returned to Pound as the lost city that is also the strength of those who live in the thought of her. "For in herself Wagadu is not of stone, nor of wood, nor of earth. Wagadu is the strength that lives in the hearts of men and that one time can be seen because eyes let her be seen, because ears hear the strike of sword and the clang of shield, and one time is invisible because worn out and beset by the untameable nature of men she has gone fast a-sleep." "Now in the mind indestructible, " Pound sings in Canto LXXIV, and in Canto LXXVII: "now in the heart indestructible. "Wagadu may then be the first city of H.D.’s Cities, the Mother that those who are devoted to Beauty remember. "For each man will salvage Wagadu in his heart," the African epic promises—"bergen",—the German translates, which means to salvage or rescue and also to give shelter to, to hold or to hide: "and each woman will keep hidden a Wagadu in her womb."

The people of that city, the people of a dream of a kind of human life once known that perished as the dominant way and is yet carried forward in the minds and hearts of certain devotees, this people remains, like the "we" of H.D’s poem, intensely aware of themselves in their allegiance to an invisible city more real than the city in which they are:

Can we think a few old cells

were left—we are left—

grains of honey,

old dust of stray pollen

dull on our torn wings,

we are left to recall the old streets?

To be a poet was to be disowned in terms of the reality values of the new city, to be outcast from the true motherland. In "The Tribute", published in The Egoist in 1916, the First World War and city of London are again seen in terms of an evil state that has taken the place of a good:

Squalor spreads its hideous length

through the carts and the asses’ feet,

squalor coils and reopens

and creeps under barrow

and heap of refuse...

"Don.’t use such an expression as ‘dim lands of peace.’", Pound had commanded: "It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete." For a moment the word "squalor", if we take it as an abstraction, may abstract us from the immediacy of the poem, but the squalor of the city is itself the presentation of a person of the poem. A "personification" it is called by those who believe such things are mere devices of a poetic grammar. But this squalor is the face or mask of an actual entity:

it lengthens and coils

and uncoils and draws back

and recoils

through the crooked streets

the Evil One Himself, the old serpent or worm, seen by the poet in the seizure of the poem as He has been seen in the vision of saints and satanists or in the clairvoyance of seers, an astral shape pervading the ways of the city, so that the streets are "crooked", as in The Mills of the Kavanaughs Robert Lowell sees a path "snake" up its hill. Where He wounds us there are "our old hatreds", and in victory He may blacken the song upon singing lips. The dragon is Neschek as He appears in Pound’s fragment of Canto LXXII or Jormungand, the Midgard Serpent, whose scales are the corpses of men and whose venom is a corrupting greed and ambition, in whose likeness is the squalor of the slums, the coils of usury, and the murderous arrogance of modern war. In The Tribute, the tribute seems first to be the draft of young men into the armies of America and England, and the dragon has triumphed:

with no voice to rebuke—

for the boys have gone out of the city,

the songs withered black on their lips...

The "larvae", the unawakened people of the poem "Cities", are now the people of the dragon, their "one god":

They have banished the gods

and the half-gods

from the city streets,

they have turned from the god

of the cross roads,

the god of the hearth,

the god of the sunken well

and the fountain source...

and now they show their enmity openly towards those who do not hold their values and would oppose the tribute to their war:

Though not one of the city turned,

not one girl but to glance

with contempt toward us.

The few with convictions against the war really did face social ostracism. "The world of men is dreaming," Lawrence wrote to Lady Ottoline Morrell in 1915: "it has gone mad in its sleep, and a snake is strangling it, but it can’t wake up." Two years later, driven out of Cornwall where they had been raided by the police, the Lawrences took refuge with H.D. at 44, Mecklenburgh Square. "London is really very bad: gone mad, in fact," he wrote Cecil Gray: "People are not people any more; they are factors, really ghastly, like lemures, evil spirits of the dead." And young men who had already begun their work for beauty’s sake had died, "the songs withered black on their lips" —"non ‘dulce’ non ‘et decor’". In the pages of The Egoist war lists, first of young French and German artists and writers, then of English, had begun to appear.

The "we" of "The Tribute" is a remnant few very like the pitiful group that in Aristophanes’ anti-war Lysistrata hold the decimated city:

A few old men rose up

with a few sad women to greet and hail us,

a few lads crept to welcome. . .

And the song was "withered black" upon the lips in another sense. For Pound, Lawrence, Joyce, H.D., Eliot, have a black voice when speaking of the contemporary scene, an enduring memory from this First World War that had revealed the deep-going false-hood and evil of the modern state. These had from their early years as writers a burning sense of the "they" that ran the war and that accepted its premises and of the "we" whose allegiance belonged to a Wagadu hidden in their hearts, among whom now many ghosts or specters—Wilfred Owen had come as the first great English loss among poets, but Gaudier-Brzeska and Hulme from the immediate circle of The Egoist had followed.

At the close of "The Tribute", a prayer for deliverance begins:

May we know that our spirits at last

will be cleansed of all bitterness

that no one god may trample the earth,

but the others still dwell apart

in a high place

with our dead and our lost.

Now the Wagadu no longer appears as an earlier city back of or surviving within the squalor of the contemporary city as in the poem Cities, where those "who recall the old splendour await the new beauty of cities", but as a city in an other world evoked by a wish:

That the boys our city has lost

and the gods still dwell apart

in a city set fairer than this

with column and porch.

They appear here, the banished gods and lost boys, as the eternal ones who come in dreams, to whom the poet’s tribute is offered:

That the lads of that city apart

may know of our love and keep

remembrance and speak of us—

may lift their hands that the gods

revisit earth.

That the lads of the cities

may yet remember us,

we spread shaft of privet and sweet

lily from meadow and forest. . .

"And this we will say for remembrance, " the poet continues: "Speak this with their names"—

Could beauty be caught and hurt

they had done her to death with their sneers

in ages and ages past,

could beauty be sacrificed

for a thrust of a sword,

for a piece of thin money

tossed up to fall half alloy—

then beauty were dead

long, long before we saw her face. . .

"The Tribute" is not an easy poem to appreciate in terms of what came to be accepted as H.D’ s virtues in the modern aesthetic of the twenties—the ardor kept in restraint, the Hellenic remove, the hard-wrought art, the spare statement. The Imagist rules will not fit. But once we turn from "Cities" and "The Tribute", keeping the context of these poems, the seemingly "removed" Hellenism of "Adonis", "Pallas", or "Sea Heroes", written in the same period, proves to be a screen image in which another level of feeling is present.

Akroneos, Oknolos, Elatreus,

helm-of-boat, loosener of helm, dweller-by-sea,

Natueus, sea- man,

are lists of the war dead and lost from Homer. And now from our own sense of the experience of the War—and here her rites of remembrance have quickened in us the impact of what happened before we were born—we understand anew and in depth the agony of

But to name you,

we reverent are breathless

weak with pain and old loss,

and exile and despair—

Since the dark, bitter, empassioned days of the First World War, even the words themselves—"beauty", "lad", or "boy"— have become uneasy words, smacking of the idealistic or the sentimental before what we call the Real, the pervading triumph of mercantile utilitarianism: the display aesthetic of packaging and advertising art to put over shoddy goods, repeated in the display aesthetic of the new architecture, where a wealth of glass or cellophane, aluminum, copper, or gold paper facing takes over the city, presented in a poverty of imagination, housing the same old shoddy operations of whiskey, cigarette or paper companies; and back of the sell, the demand for profit and increase, the exploitation of mind and spirit to keep the rackets going, the economy of wage-slavery and armed forces, and over all, the threat of impending collapse or disastrous war. We too, in a hostile environment, taking our faith and home in our exile, live in creative crisis.


There is this sense, then, in which the Imagists— that group of poets printing in the pages of The Egoist between 1914 and 1917—stand at the beginning of a phase in poetry that has not ended. Pound, writing in 1914, felt that a break was necessary with the preceding generation in poetry: "Surely there was never a time when the English ‘elder generation as a whole’ mattered less or had less claim to be taken seriously by ‘those on the threshold’." For my own generation, our elders—for me, specifically Pound, H.D., Williams, and Lawrence—remain primary generative forces. Their threshold remains ours. The time of war and exploitation, the infamy and lies of the new capitalist warstate, continue. And the answering intensity of the imagination to hold its own values must continue. The work of our elders in poetry was to make—"a Dream greater than Reality"—a time-space continuum in which their concern for quality and spirit, for romance and beauty, could survive. Estranged from all but a few about them, they made a new dimension in which eternal companions appeared. As to the Aranda the ancestors came, or to the Kabbalist mystics dreams and even immediate presences of Elijah or of a maggid or angel came, so to Pound Plotinus appears, and to H.D., in the orders of the new poetry, the Christos or the Lady.

In 1919 Pound published in Quia Pauper Amavi a first draft for the opening three cantos of a new poem, addressing Robert Browning:

Hang it all, there can be but the one ‘Sordello,’

But say I want to, say I take your whole bag of tricks,

Let in your quirks and tweeks, and say

the thing’s an art-form. . .

It was to be a realm in which Robert Browning and Arnault, Brancusi and Kung could coexist; where Eleanor and Cunizza come and go; and

Gods float in the azure air,

Bright gods and Tuscan, back before dew was shed.

For the banished gods and for the heroes. And those lost. But not now, as in Dante, appearing each in his place in a set scene or architecture of Hell, Purgatory, and Paradise. For here in The Cantos, the dead gather in as at a séance.

Ghosts move about me patched with histories

it seems to the poet. But there are not only voices speaking, personae, in this "catch" of time as Pound called it, there are also scenes—images of the poem, moving pictures. Where Dante had back of The Divine Comedy his magics to call upon: the magic of the poetic and of the mystic descent or ascent to the eternal world, drawing upon the practice of the dream-vision in not only Medieval Christian but in classical Roman tradition, but also upon the practice of the Mi’raj, the spiritual transportations of the Sufi Recital; Pound had these and other magics: the séance tables of London mediums, the discourse of voices in which the rivers of many traditions came into a sea of humanity, but also, a new clairvoyance, the photo montage of times and places in the movies of Griffith.

In the three masterworks of this period—Pound’s early Cantos, Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Joyce’s Ulysses—the contemporary opens upon eternity in the interpenetration of times. The literate public objected to or made fun of what they called their "references" or "quotes". "Say that I dump my catch," Pound had put it in the first draft of the Cantos—

shiny and silvery

As fresh sardines flapping and slipping on the

marginal cobbles?

and the image stands, for he was "fishing" and in it all working to catch something being said, about to be said, fishing along lines of metamorphoses in the beginning. Surely, knowing Mead and Yeats, Pound was aware of Eisler’s Orpheus the Fisher, where the god appeared as a fisher of souls who was also the divine poet—the lyre was also a net or the poem in a net of words. In the early Canto I, the poem itself appears as a ishmonger’s booth:

I stand before the booth (the speech), but the truth

is inside this discourse: this booth is full of the

marrow of wisdom.

It may also be then the medium’s cabinet. Our own net casts wider than Pound would, and we see that the shaman’s tent is also such a booth. But Pound’s intuition moves out, back of his evocation of Robert Browning’s magic practice of the dramatic monologue, and So-shu churns in the sea,

So-shu also,

using the long moon for a churn-stick...

So Pound will give up the intaglio method and in the flux of a cinematographic art call in the swarming fish of the sea, where Robert Browning, Peire Cardinal, Catullus, gods, oak-girls and maelids, Metastasio, Ficino, Kuanon, Guido Cavalcanti, Botticelli, Mantegna are drawn into the nets of the first haul. These persons, like the place names of Wagadu—Dierra, Agada, Ganna, Silla, are locii of a virtu moving through time. Frobenius traces the wandering of the Fasa from Djerma of the Garama which he equates with Dierra, mentioned by Herodotus five hundred years before Christ, from the Fezzan of North Africa, to Tagadda on the ancient route through the Sahara, to Gana and then to Silla of the Sahel. But the Wagadu of The Cantos is the lost city not of a tribe but of a kindred among all men, "all aristocracy of emotion" Pound called it.

It was the mixture of times and places, and especially the breakdown of all nationalistic distinctions that most angered the hostile critics and readers. Renaissance English or medieval Italian or modern French could enter into an American poem: not only Dante but Kung and even Gassi were to be our heroes in the new legend. The new practice was most concentrated in the famous coda of The Waste Land in 1922:

London Bridge is falling down falling down falling down

Poi s’ ascose nel foco che gli affina

Quando fiam uti chelidon—O swallow swallow

Le Prince d.’ Aquitanie a Ia tour abolie

These fragments I have shored against lily ruins

Why then he fit you. Hieronymo’s mad againe.

Data. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

Children singing a round dance; Dante in Purgatory telling of Arnaut Daniel, master of the trobar clus, "Then he hid himself in the fire which refines them"; and the voices of the poet of the Pervigilium Veneris, of Gerard de Nerval, of Kyd in the person of Hieronimo, and of the thunder out of the Upanishads, speak one after another, taking over from Eliot’s "own" voice. Or speaking for Eliot, meeting through Eliot as through a medium. "Tiresias, although a mere spectator and not indeed a ‘character’, Eliot notes, "is yet the most important personage in the poem, united all the rest. Just as the oneeyed merchant, seller of currants, melts into the Phoenician Sailor, and the latter is not wholly distinct from Ferdinand Prince of Naples, so all the women are one woman, and the two sexes meet in Tiresias."

For William Carlos Williams it was "the great catastrophe to our letters. " "There was heat in us, a core and a drive that was gathering headway upon the theme of a rediscovery of a primary impetus, the elementary principle of all art, in the local conditions," he writes in his Autobiography: "Our work staggered to a halt for a moment under the blast of Eliot’s genius which gave the poem back to the academics." Picturing himself as defending something betrayed by Eliot, and by Pound in his admiration of Eliot, Williams posed against the internationalism of The Waste Land the authenticism of the American speech. "Nothing from abroad would have the reality for me that native writing of the same quality would have, " he resolves as an editor of Contact in 1922: "Eliot or Pound might say to me today— ‘Read Laforgue!’ I might even be tempted to read because I had respect for their intelligence. But their words could not tempt me, force me, accompany me into the reading." Against the cinematographic time-flux, he meant to take with a vengeance the camera eye of still photography, the locality in time.

There was the studied disdain of silence on Eliot’s part for Williams’s work. It meant that Williams was never taken up in England; no influence could move Eliot who came to rule the informed taste abroad as Pound never did. And there was the increasing grievance on Williams’s part. Not only Eliot but Pound and H.D. came to be seen as betrayers of the American thing in their exile, their "foreign" work. "When one’s friends hate each other," the old man Pound would write in Canto 115:

how can there be peace in the world?

Their asperities diverted me in my green time.

At heart, Williams’s genius as a poet lay not in the local condition, in the isolated percept, the "American" thing or speech, but in the heritage Eliot—Jacob to his Esau— had stolen from him, in the world-poem where the wives of an African chief, a red basalt grasshopper recalling Chapultepec, Toulouse Lautrec, Madam Curie working the pitchblende, Sappho, and Peter Brueghel were to enter in. The Waste Land had stolen a march on Paterson, but when the first volume of Paterson appeared twenty-four years later Williams had brought his early poem into a fullness that was to be a challenge to the poets to come as The Waste Land was not.

In his Preface to Selected Essays in 1954 Williams tells us: "Poetry is a dangerous subject for a boy to fool with, for the dreams of the race are involved in it." He sought, he writes of Paterson in his Autobiography in 1951, "to find an image large enough to embody the whole knowable world about me." Between "the dream of the race" and "the knowable world", between the "idea" and the "thing" his river was to flow, the Passaic, yes, but also in the realized poem "the thunder of the waters filling his dreams!"

"The subject matter of the poem," he said in his lecture at the University of Washington in 1948, calling upon Freud’s theory of the dream, "is always phantasy—what is wished for, realized in the ‘dream.’ of the poem—but the structure confronts something else." The Poem as a Field of Action, he titles that lecture, anticipating Charles Olson’s Projective Verse with its composition by field. "The only reality we can know," he continues, "is measure ... How can we accept Einstein’s theory of relativity, affecting our very conception of the heavens about us of which poets write so much, without incorporating its essential fact—the relativity of measurements—into our own category of activity: the poem. Do we think we stand outside the universe? Or that the Church of England does? Relativity applies to everything, like love, if it applies to anything in the world."

William’s local condition and his "no ideas but in things" must ring true, find their resonance, in "the dreams of the race" and in a relativity of measurements that applies to everything, as H.D.’s elect, the lovers or the writers, must somehow in their vision prove to keep the dream of "everyone, everywhere." The very heightened sense of the relatedness of everything set poets apart. The very secret of the impulse in poetry is the troubled awareness the poet has of meanings in the common language everywhere that those about him do not see or do not consider so important. "We," H.D. writes in The Walls Do Not Fall, "bearers of the secret wisdom," and then:

but if you do not even understand what words say

how can you expect to pass judgement

on what words conceal?

The ancient instruction "As above, so below" from the Smaragdine Tablet may be "the secret wisdom", but H.D. was initiate of Freud where she had learned in analysis that for the good of her soul she must bear the wisdom of "what words conceal." She tells us Freud said to her, "My discoveries are a basis for a very grave philosophy. There are very few who understand this, there are very few who are capable of understanding this." But he might also have said "very few who are willing to understand", for the crisis of the new psychoanalytic wisdom lay in the resistance men have against knowing what is above or below, the strange refusal to see what they are doing or to hear what they are saying just when they are most engaged in their own self-destruction— "the untameable nature of men, " the epic of Gassire’s Lute says. So, Oedipus cannot and will not understand the vatic warnings of Tiresias or the fears of Jocasta but must pursue his blind course in order to expose the conflict within only at the cost of catastrophe for all. He seems to seek in the drama a compelling reason to make his blindness actual.

The great compulsion of our own states with their war economies and compulsory military servitude, the history that is now all written upon verges of a war to come, about which we can do nothing and which we can imagine only in terms of total destruction, bears a curious resemblance to the hubris and fate of the Greek drama. The People of the Truth and the People of the Lie, the Zoroastrians called the adherents of peaceful agricultural ways and the adherents of war; but Ahura Mazda, the Lord of Truth, was to become a War-Lord, for His was the One Truth, and all other truths were lies. "And now just look at what is happening in this wartime," Freud writes in a letter to Van Eden in 1914: "at the cruelties and injustices for which the most civilized nations are responsible, at the different way in which they judge of their own lies, their own wrong-doings, and those of their enemies." "The individual in any given nation has in this war," he writes in Thoughts On War and Death in 1915, "a terrible opportunity to convince himself of what would occasionally strike him in peace time—that the State has forbidden to the individual the practice of wrong doing, not because it desired to abolish it, but because it desires to have the monopoly of it, like salt and tobacco."

For Freud, as for Lawrence, H.D., Pound, Joyce, or Eliot, the immediate experience of the First World War brought an intensified experience of the "we" and the "they"! "The individual who is not himself a combatant—and so a wheel in the gigantic machinery of war," Freud writes, "feels conscious of disorientation, and of an inhibition in his powers and activities." So, in "Cities" H.D. in 1914 could still imagine the task of the "we, to be to awaken the "they" from their hideous larval life, to "recall the old splendor" towards a "new beauty of cities." In an essay on the work of Marianne Moore in August 1916, she speaks of Marianne Moore’s work as if it were under question: "these curiously wrought patterns, these quaint turns of thought and concealed, halfplayful ironies" that readers "have puzzled over... and asked—what is this all about?" This poetry might be her own as well with its curiously wrought patterns. Even among the literate, the few who made any pretense at all of being concerned with poetry, the Imagists were ridiculed and reviled. And among the less than few who appreciated, appreciation was not the same as understanding. In the conclusion of that essay, H.D. breaks out and the "they" that had been readers appear as the other "they" of "Cities", and likewise, the identification of herself with Marianne Moore in a "we" is outright: "She is fighting in her country a battle against squalor and commercialism. We are all fighting the same battle. And we must strengthen each other in this one absolute bond—our devotion to the beautiful English language."

The war experience had revealed a division in which one side could no longer communicate with the other. "It rends all bonds of fellowship between the contending peoples," Freud writes in Thoughts on War and Death, "and threatens to leave such a legacy of embitterment as will make any renewal of such bonds impossible for a long time to come. Moreover, it has brought to light the almost unbelievable phenomenon of a mutual comprehension between the civilized nations so slight that one can turn with hate and loathing upon the other." But this abyss of incomprehension appeared not only between opposing states, but within each state between the few antipathetic to the war itself and those obedient to or sympathetic with the war. In the poem "The Tribute", H.D. sees the "we" and the "they" divided by a will on the part of the "they" not to hear, not to see—a resistance against beauty and any hope of peace, but also a compulsion towards ugliness and war, a conspiracy that these shall be the terms of the real. The City of the Gods, "set fairer than this with column and porch", no longer what once was or what will be, the city of an historical task, is now a dwelling place of youths and gods "apart".

Augustine, when Rome fell to the Vandals in the fifth century and the Christians were accused of betraying the Empire in their disaffiliation from the war, answered in The City of God with the ringing affirmation of an eternity more real than historical time, a life eternal or supreme good more real than the good life of the philosopher. "And thus it is written, " Augustine tells us: "The just lives by faith, for we do not as yet see our good, and must therefore live by faith." For Augustine—as for Freud—there was the incomprehension between nations, or for poets the incomprehension between writers and readers, or for Sapir the incomprehension between the individual happenings and the language as communication itself—for Augustine too in the world beyond the household and the city, the world of human society at large "man is separated from man by the difference of languages. For if two men, each ignorant of the other’s language, meet, and are not compelled to pass, but, on the contrary, to remain in company, dumb animals, though of different species, would more easily hold intercourse than they, human beings though they be."

"But the imperial city has endeavoured to impose on subject nations, not only her yoke, but her language, as a bond of peace, so that interpreters, far from being scarce, are numberless" he continues: "This is true; but how many great wars, how much slaughter and bloodshed, have provided this unity! And though these are past, the end of these miseries has not yet come. For though there have never been wanting, nor are yet wanting, hostile nations beyond the empire, against whom wars have been and are waged, yet, supposing there were no such nations, the very extent of the empire itself has produced wars of a more obnoxious description—and with these the whole race has been agitated either by the actual conflict or the fear of a renewed outbreak."

For Augustine, convert of the Christian cult, Latin words themselves had a difference of meaning, and in that difference there was a disillusionment with all the values of the Roman world. Only in a total conversion could the "they", the would-be good and just men of the Empire, understand the "we", the little company of would-be saints. The rest—the whole "realistic" approach—meant utter misery. "But, say they, the wise man will wage just wars. As if he would not all the (line missing in Duncan mss.) rather lament the necessity of just wars, if he remembers that he is a man; for if they were not just he would wage them, and would therefore be delivered from all wars. For it is the wrong-doing of the opposing party which compels the wise man to wage just wars, and this wrong-doing, even though it gave rise to no war, would still be a matter of grief to man because it is man’s wrong-doing. Let everyone, then, who thinks with pain on all these great evils, so horrible, so ruthless, acknowledge that this is misery. And if any one either endures or thinks of them without mental pain, this is a more miserable plight still, for he thinks himself happy because he has lost human feeling."


To write at all is to dwell in the illusion of language, the rapture of communication that comes as we surrender our troubled individual isolated experiences to the communal consciousness. But this "commune" is not, even in the broadest sense, the language of the human society at large. To write in English is not only to belong to a language-world different from French or Aranda but also to belong to a language-world different from though within the English-speaking world other National literatures. Writing and reading is itself an initiation as special as the totem-dance of the Aranda, and just as the Aranda learns to read his own parts in the parts of the landscape about him, so that the body of the world becomes one with his own consciousness, so we learn to find our life in a literature, and, in turn, literature itself is valued as it seems true to life.

But once we would derive our life not in terms of tribe or nation but in terms of a larger humanity, we find our company in Euripides, Plato, Moses of Leon, Faure or Freud, searching out keys to our inner being in the rites of the Aranda and in the painting processes of Cezanne. We must move throughout the history of man to find many of our own kin, for here and now those who think and feel in the terms we seek are few indeed. But from each of these the cry goes up—to whom other than us, their spiritual kin—from an intense solitude. Not only Freud’s "There are very few who understand this", but Stein’s "Do you know because I tell I you so, or do you know, do you know. (Silence) My long life, my long life," or Joyce’s "Thinking always if I go all goes. A hundred cares, a tithe of troubles and is there one who understands me? One in a thousand of years of the nights ?" or Pound’s plea from Canto 116:

I have brought the great ball of crystal,

who can lift it?

Can you enter the great acorn of light?

but the beauty is not the madness

Tho my errors and wrecks lie about me

and I cannot make it cohere...

Before war and death the whole world of the higher culture seems to be an illusion indeed. For Freud, the war evoked a powerful disillusionment. The cosmopolitan man, as Freud portrays himself in Thoughts on War and Death in peace-time dwelt in an "other" world, leaving the Mother-land or Father-land of the national state and entering a new Mother-land of an international dream:

"Relying on this union among the civilized races, countless people have exchanged their native home for a foreign dwelling place, and made their existence dependent on the conditions of intercourse between friendly nations. But he who was not by stress of circumstances confined to one spot, could also confer upon himself, through all the advantages and attractions of these civilized countries, a new, a wider fatherland, wherein he moved unhindered and unsuspected." The generation of Joyce, Eliot, Pound, and H.D., living in the dream of European culture, or of Lawrence living in the dream of Western Indian culture, is the last to live abroad so. The generation of the twenties—the "lost" generation, as Stein called it—Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Mary Butts, Henry Miller, Katherine Anne Porter, Kay Boyle, Robert MacAlmon, live in Europe or Mexico as if in limbo, forerunners of the jet set and the new wave. The cosmopolitan son of an imaginary world-father pictured by Freud had his roots in a time "before the War", in an illusion of peace, and thought of the achievement, of the past as his spiritual heritage.

"This new fatherland was for him a museum also, filled with all the treasures which the artists among civilized communities had in successive centuries created and left behind," Freud continues: "As he wandered from one gallery to another in this museum, he could appreciate impartially the varied types of perfection that miscegenation, the course of historical events, and the special characteristics of their mother-earth had produced among his more remote compatriots."

This dream of European Culture must recall the Palace of Eros. But Freud’s heir of the ages and of the earth finds his reality not in daydream but in an actual sea and actual mountains, in the treasure store of men’s actual works. "Property is not capital. The increment of association is not usury," Ezra Pound insists in Social Credit: An Impact (1935) and prefaces his pamphlet with Jefferson’s saying—"The earth belongs to the living. In the rites whereby man became cosmopolitan man he came into an increment, an environment enhanced by his realization of the work and experience of others involved, into an increase that was not taken from things but taken in them."

In the cult-life of Freud’s cosmopolitan man, as in the life of the Imagists, the gods and the heroes, the imagined beings and the men who in their creative work have increased the store of the imagination, are ancestral, Eternal Ones of the Dream. A new father-land is taken in the image of a world-father of man-kind. And a new kin is found in the ancestors —those who have contributed to the association of man "any and all of the qualities which have made mankind the lords of the earth.

"Nor must we forget," Freud concludes his picture of this illusion of the civilized man: "that each of these citizens of culture had created for himself a personal ‘Parnassus’ and ‘School of Athens’. From among the great thinkers and artists of all nations he had chosen those to whom he conceived himself most deeply indebted for what he had achieved in enjoyment and comprehension of life, and in his veneration had associated them with the immortals of old as well as with the more familiar masters of his own tongue."


It is not the world of nature from which the poet feels himself alienated. One of the primaries of the poet is his magic identification with the natural world—"the pathetic fallacy" the rationalist-minded critics and versifiers call it. Freud’s cosmopolitan man is a poet and a primitive mind, for in his pathetic union with the world, he "enjoyed tile blue sea, and the grey; the beauty of the snow-clad mountains and of the green pasture-lands; the magic of the northern forests and the splendor of the southern vegetation . . . the silence of nature in her inviolate places." Where the rationalist will be quick to see that to find joy in the blue sea or beauty in mountains, magic in forests, splendor and silence in nature, is to live in an environment transformed by human sentiments; for these qualities are just that increment that would make man a lord. The joy and the splendor exist in a magic reciprocity—a property that is not capital; an increment that is not usury. Joy, magic, splendor, beauty, and the silence of "inviolate places" are pathetically present too in the language of the Aranda sexual organs and orifices, the "secret" organs of joy, magic and splendor in the flow of blood and urine, the excitement and release of orgasm.

So too, the nature poems of H.D.—the early poems of sea and orchard, shell and tree in full blossom or fruit—betray in their troubled ardor processes of psychological and even sexual identification, and those critics who have rebuked her for these poems may be disturbed by content in the poem they do not want to recognize. In Orchard, she writes: "and I fell prostrate crying: / you have flayed us / with your blossoms". This flowering tree—it is the flowering half-burnt-out tree of The Flowering of the Rod—may also be the emotional tree of a sexual encounter; for this poem addresses the "rough-hewn / god of the orchard", "alone unbeautiful", "son of the god", and in its first publication in The Egoist was titled "Priapus (Keeper of Orchards)", and the "you" was then "thou", the too-intimate almost forbidden second person pronoun in English. The first pear falling, the thundering air and the honey-questing bees of the poem appear then in a poetic magic in which the natural environment and the sexual experience are fused. The intensity belongs neither to the tree as object nor to the priapic penis as object but to the evocation of the image in which they are fused.

Nor is it from the world of the ancestors that the poet feels alienated. The ultimate reality that the eternal ones of the dream have for the Aranda—the ultimate reality that our toys and imaginary play-mates had for us in childhood—Moses, Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Hannibal have for Freud; and Sappho, Euripides, Shakespeare or Browning have for H.D. They are forefathers of the work, but they seem also at times previous reincarnations of the spirit at work.

These poems where many persons from many times and many places begin to appear—as in The Cantos, The Waste Land, Finnegans Wake, the War Trilogy, and Paterson —are poems of a world-mind in process. The seemingly triumphant reality of the War and State disorient the poet who is partisan to a free and world-wide possibility, so that his creative task becomes the more imperative. The challenge increases the insistence of the imagination to renew the reality of its own. It is not insignificant that these "poems containing history" are all products of a movement in literature that was identified in the beginning as free verse. The Egoist, where Pound, Eliot, Joyce, Williams, Moore, H.D., Lawrence, and Aldington first appeared together had formerly been The New Freewoman; free verse went along in its publication with articles on free love and free thought. And the "new" we find also as a demand. In his quarrel with Eliot, Williams could oppose the "new" to the "past"—as if all of the past were what Eliot meant by his "tradition". But the definition of the "new" was given by Ezra Pound from Confucius in "Make It New", and in The Spirit of Romance and in the essay Cavalcanti he turns to the late Medieval reawakening of poetic genius not with the antiquarian’s concerns but in search of enduring terms for the renewal of poetry in his own time. The study of literature, he wrote then, was "hero-worship"—" It is a refinement or, if you will, a perversion of that primitive religion."

The image, for the Imagists, was something actually seen. "At least H.D. has lived with these things since childhood," Pound writes to Harriet Monroe in 1912, "and knew them before she had any book-knowledge of them" In ABC of Reading he argues for a statement of Dante’s as a starting point "because it starts the reader or hearer from what he actually sees or hears, instead of distracting his mind from that actuality to something which can only be approximately deduced or conjectured from the actuality, and for which the evidence can be nothing save the particular and limited extent of the actuality."In the major phase of his last years William Carlos Williams, the poet who was to have "no ideas but in things", would relate poetry to dream and to phantasy, as H.D. would in "Good Frend" project the fictional life of Claribel who had no more actuality than her being mentioned in passing in Shakespeare’s The Tempest—itself a drama of the poet’s powers to enchant—and in Helen in Egypt she would weave another fiction of persons who belong not to actuality but to an eternal dream. But the bias for what Williams called "the local conditions" as the primary impetus is strong and continues to haunt my own generation.

The immediate persuasion of Imagist poets was against the fantastic and fictional as it was for the clear-seeing, even the clairvoyant, and the actual, for percept against concept. The Image as "that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in time" or "the local conditions’’ could open out along lines of the poet’s actual feeling. The poem could be erotic and contain evocations of actual sexual experience as I have suggested in the poem Orchards. And then, the image was also something actually seen in the process of the poem, not something pretended or made up. It was the particular image evoked in the magic operation of the poet itself—whatever its source, and it usually had many sources. In reviewing Fletcher’s poetry in 1916, H.D. may be speaking too of her own art: "He uses the direct image, it is true, but he seems to use it as a means to evoke other and vaguer images—a pebble, as it were, dropped in a quiet pool, in order to start across the silent water, wave on wave of light, of colour, of sound."

There was in the image a presentation that gave, Pound writes in "A Stray Document", "that sense of sudden liberation; that sense of freedom from time limits and space limits; that sense of sudden growth, which we experience in the presence of the greatest works of art." When he tells us that the total plan of Dante’s Commedia is itself an image, there is a possibility that the image is something seen of or in the "other" world, a clairvoyance. Works of art here are works of a magic comparable to the imaginative practices of Vital or Ficino in which the imagination is thought of not as creative but as a higher vision. In Pound’s "Aux Etuves de Wiesbaden", Poggio says: "We are fortunate to live in the wink; the eye of mankind is open, for an instant, hardly more than an instant."

The personae of the Imagists had derived from the dramatis-personae of Robert Browning. Pound and H.D. wrote not in the tradition of the personal lyric, but they drew upon the dramatic choral lyric and the trance-voice of religious evocation to charge the actual with meaning. In this making the actual the condition of the true and the real, there was a curious consequence. For those elements of the imagination that are usually distinguished from what is actual—the impersonations, the projections, the creations of worlds and the speculations in ideas— return now in their higher truth and reality to be identified with the actual. In such an operation, H.D. suggests in her notes to Ion, for the devotee of Euripides, the actor of Hermes is indeed Hermes:

"Roughly speaking, there were two types of theatre-goers in ancient Greece, as there are today. Those who are on time and those who are late. The prologue is the argument or libretto; it outlines the plot. The ardent lover of the drama will doubtless be strung up to a fine pitch of intensity and discrimination from the first. The presence of this actor, who impersonates the god Hermes, will actually be that god. Religion and art still go hand in hand."

If poetry has to do with enchantment and the imagination has traffic with what is not actual but a made up world, if indeed these would-be serious poets wove a romance of the actual itself, then religion and art may both be fictional and the intensity of their truth and reality [is] the intensity needed to make what is not actual real. The crux for the poet is to make real what is only real in a heightened sense. Call it his personal feeling, or the communal reality, it exists only in its dance, only to its dancers. Outside the created excitement, what we call the inspiration of art, the things done—the bleeding, the exhibition of private parts, the reiterated correspondences of the human world to the great world of nature and the eternal world of the dream—do not communicate. The reader of the poem must be just such an ardent lover as the communicant of the Mass, or the magic of the sacrament is all superstition and vanity. Christ is not actually there, even where He is most real.

The poet and the reader, who if he is intent in reading becomes a new poet of the poem, come to write or to read in order to participate through the work in a consciousness that moves freely in time and space and can entertain reality upon reality. "He has to begin as a cloud of all the other poets he ever read," Robert Frost says, comparing the poet to a water-spout at sea: "and first the cloud reaches down! toward the water from above, and then the water reaches up! toward the cloud from below—and finally cloud and water join together to roll as one pillar between heaven and earth: the base of water he picks from below, all the life he lived outside of books." But, in eternity, there is a cloud below, a sea above, as well: books are real and also imagined, and they must be included if we would draw upon all the life we have lived; life, a dream or a stage on which we act, is also larger than the life we have lived, for its reality is extended in all the poets we have read.

In this great poetry, "Today shalt thou be with me in Paradise" may have its resonance with "Tomorrow, and tomorrow and tomorrow, / Creepes in this petty pace from day to day, / To the last Syllable of Recorded time", for we have come in the comparison of languages to imagine one human drama in many tongues. If the language of Matthew be inspired, so is the language of Shakespeare. Christ and Macbeth have become personae of a world-poem. Not only this is true, but if it is, then also this is true. It has come to pass, anyway, that only in the imagination are Christ and Macbeth surely real.

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