For the record, and I do have Pound's ditty in front of me, the lines go as
These are the poems of Eliot
By the Uranian Muse begot;
A Man their Mother was,
A Muse their Sire.
How did the printed Infancies result
>From Nuptials thus doubly difficult?
If you must needs enquire
Know diligent Reader
That on each Occasion
Ezra performed the caesarean Operation.
I, at least, fail to see the relevant allusions to astronomy, though the male-
male copulation (and marriage) is quite explicit since the Muse is also
made male along with Eliot the male mother. Pound's male-nurse role is
simply a third to make the seemingly impossible birth possible: they just
managed it all by themselves. There is every reason to read this as what it
so explicitly states and none at all, as far as I can see, arbitrarily to drag in
astronomy, which has no connection at all with what is being described
unless the Muse of astronomy was male and also a progenitor of poems.
[Urania is, in the note below, of course female; it is the transgender image
that Pound makes central.]
Moreover, the long history of male writers using birthing metaphors can be
read very differently from simple humorous bonding. The question is why it
takes that form.
Date sent: Wed, 28 Feb 2001 20:16:12 -0700
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From: "Richard Seddon" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: the Uranian muse again
Good thought abut Urania in Purgatorio. Interestingly the "Temple
Classics" edition of "Purgatorio" that TSE carried in his pocket puts that
Now 'tis meet that Helicon for me stream forth
and Urania aid me with her choir to set in verse
things hard to conceive.
Note the last word "conceive" fits nicely into the context of your
The note for those lines states:
"Helicon was in reality a _mountain_ in _Boeotia_ sacred to the muses
(from which _sprang_ two mountains associated with them--Aganippe and
Hippocrene). Urania---the Muse of astronomy and heavenly things."
McIntosh, NM, USA
From: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wednesday, February 28, 2001 7:01 PM
Subject: the Uranian muse again
Maybe we need to review Pound's "Uranian muse"poem again. Urania
the muse of astronomy, and one of her functions was to elevate human
thought--to encourage us to, so to speak, look at the stars. She's
mentioned in that capacity by Milton, Spenser, and many other authors,
and she also turns up a lot in paintings. Here's one url from among
I'm not questioning that some gay men regarded themselves as a "third
sex" and wanted to be called Uranians (after the planet rather than
the muse). But that goes back no earlier than the mid-1800s, and
there's a much longer tradition of Urania as the muse of astronomy.
Maybe Pound at least was playing with double meanings, and he did
mention the muse, not the planet. If Pound thought TWL was a
masterpiece, it makes sense for him to say it must have been inspired
by the Uranian muse, the muse that elevates our thoughts and inspires
us to look at the stars. A little nod to Dante, maybe, because each
Cantica of the Commedia ends with the word "stelle" (stars).
Or maybe more than a little nod. At Eliot's funeral, Pound said, "His
was the true Dantescan voice." If Pound thought of Eliot as Dantescan,
it makes sense to invoke the Uranian muse, who in a sense might be
regarded as Dante's muse. In Purg. 29.41-42, Dante asks Urania to help
him write his poem.
"Urania should help me with her choir
To put in verse things difficult to ponder."
As for all that childbirth stuff, men have always compared creativity
to giving birth, and this might be more male-bonding jocularity
abolut the male "mother" (Eliot) who "gave birth" to the poem.
I don't have Pound's ditty in front of me as I write this, and I'm not
saying I'm sure of any answer. But let's at least reopen the case at