In a message dated 3/3/01 9:51:14 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
> Now we have to deal with two subtexts
> or possible subtexts.
> 1) Did Pound know that the Uranian muse
> was Dante's muse--that Dante invokes
> the Uranian muse in the Commedia? . . .
> So, yes, I think it's possible that Pound
> also meant to compliment his "Dantescan"
> friend by telling him that the muse for TWL
> must have been Dante's muse.
> . . .
> 2) Now the second subtext or possible
> subtext. Is Pound kidding Eliot for
> being gay, or because he rightly
> or wrong believes Eliot to be gay?
I understand you are currently looking at the opening lines of "Sage Homme",
and that's a good place to start:
These are the poems of Eliot
By the Uranian Muse begot;
But the poem continues from there. There are lines like:
And the holy hosts of hellenists
Have numbed and honied his cervic cysts,
I don't think THAT'S a tribute to Dante. It sounds like a crude reference to
male homosexual anal intercourse.
And then there are the passages we discussed last year, such as:
His verse omits realities,
Angelic hands with mother of pearl
Retouch the strapping servant girl,
which also don't sound like Dante allusions. It sounds to me like Pound is
saying Eliot "omitted realities" in TWL and that omission had something to do
with "retouching" the image of a "strapping servant girl" (as a photographer
retouches a painting, to change something). "Strapping" is a term usually
applied to a big man, isn't it? (i.e., that term is not usually applied to a
girl). And the "mother of pearl" phrase -- doesn't that remind you of the TWL
line "Those are pearls that were HIS eyes"?
Then there are the cruder parts of "Sage Homme". "Grudge not the oyster
his stiff saliva". Is that a Dante allusion also? My guess is that it means
"Don't condemn the poet over the source of his sexual energy ('stiff saliva'
-- ejaculate) -- it's what allowed the oyster (Eliot) to produce his pearl
And while we're on "crude", let's not forget: "Vates cum fistula" (poet
with anal fistula).
What I'm saying is that, when "Sage Homme" is taken in its entirety, I find
it difficult to see it as a Dante reference, even if one isolated line can
have a double meaning. It seems to me to be a sustained joke from Pound to
Eliot and the joke is that Eliot is gay. Whether the joke is true or not
cannot be determined from "Sage Homme".
-- Steve --