Very scholarly help.
As to your query, again I recommend the
"Possum and the Midwife" essay.
Eliot's original construction was something
of a religious meditation in which musical
effect was appropriate. Pound's profound skill
ellicited a more dramatic figure from within
the stone, by looking for the places where tension
could be strong.
Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
Dept. of English
3100 Foul Bay Rd.
Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
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From: Adam Trexler [mailto:[log in to unmask]]
Sent: Wednesday, January 08, 2003 6:21 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Pound poohpoohs possum parody
In Valerie Eliot's facsimile, in the notes, p. 127:
"This opening passage [to "The Fire Sermon"] was
written in imitation of The Rape of the Lock...
Pound'...induced me to destroy what I thought an
excellent set of couplets,' wrote Eliot of his
pastiche, 'for, said he, "Pope has done this so well
that you cannot do it better; if you mean this as a
burlesque, you had better suppress it, for you cannot
parody Pope unless you can write better verse tha
Pope--and you can't" (Introduction to Selected Poems
of Ezra Pound, 1928). Eliot added, in the Paris Review
(1959), that Pound advised him to '"Do something
The reference to the deliverer (Pound) in a tribute to
him by the first poet via a footnote about a footnote
to the facsimile of an imitation of a different poet:
ah the joys of TWL scholarship.
On two pages in the ms. of The Fire Sermon notes by
Pound also indicate sustained consideration of the
subject of Pope's technique:
trick of Pope etc
not to let
couple[t] diffuse 'em (V. Eliot, 39)
And the poverty of Eliot's imitation:
"verse not interesting enough as verse to warrant so
much of it."
"inversions not warranted by any real exigence of
and also, "qui dira les gaffers de la rime", which I
gloss as Pound chiding Eliot for easy rhyme when he is
against it in others. (V. Eliot p. 45)
What I've always found interesting about Pound's
editing to The Fire Sermon is that the line
eliminations changes the appearance from rather
obvious quatrains to a much more modern-appearing
form. What do people think about this?
--- Peter Montgomery <[log in to unmask]>
wrote: > Does anyone know where Eliot wrote the
> T S Eliot 'I remember that Pound once induced me to
> destroy what I
> thought an excellent set of couplets; for, he said,
> "Pope has
> done this so well that you cannot do it better; and
> if you mean
> this as a burlesque, you had better suppress it, for
> you cannot
> parody Pope unless you can write better than Pope -
> and you
> Dr. Peter C. Montgomery
> Dept. of English
> Camosun College
> 3100 Foul Bay Rd.
> Victoria, BC CANADA V8P 5J2
> [log in to unmask]
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