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Steve,

I did look at the entire poem. I should have caught on long ago that we have 
a couple of poets talking about poetry. Not the biggest surprise in the 
world, as this poem came up in relation to TWL and Pound's editing of TWL. 

1) Pound is a good poet, and he can't stop thinking like a poet even when 
he's horsing around. So he's got a structure built into his crappy little 
piece of doggerel--essentially, he's developing a contrast. Notice that he 
starts with the Uranian muse, the patroness of all that's lofty and even 
(according to Wicksteed) heavenly. Then he jumps to the other extreme, to the 
low kind of rhetoric that teenagers like to call "talking dirty."  If this 
spanning of extremes doesn't remind you of Dante, maybe you don't realize 
that this is one of the most striking things about the Commedia, and that 
it's often brought out in the lit. Dante spans the whole gamut, from scenes 
of exquisite beauty to all those stinking marshes and worse. Scenes so 
disgusting they could make you vomit. Sinners condemned to live in a river of 
shit, and lurid descripitons of how they're beaten off when they try to climb 
into the boat. Others with their guts hanging out...it just goes on an on. So 
it was Pound's implying the whole range of images--highest to lowest--that 
seemed Dantean, or that reminded me of how the Commedia is often summarized. 
You didn't notice because maybe you don't realize that there is this aspect 
with Dante.

2) The rest of your argument, basically, is that obscenity, foul language, 
and allusions to defecation, body parts, homoeroticism, don't seem you to 
have anything to do with Dante.  Or you don't think Dante would include any 
of these things in the Commedia. But you're wrong in this case. He includes 
them all. As I mentioned previously, there's been a large number of articles 
in recent years about Dante's homosexuals, and if you're interested you can 
look them up in the Dante Society of America bibliographies. I don't know why 
so many people have the erroneous idea  that ancient and medieval literature 
is all prissy and sanitized. It just isn't, and Dante isn't.

3) If you check the OED, you'll find that "strapping" was originally applied 
to young women, and now can be applied to either sex. So there's no 
foundation for your claim that the word would never be applied to a woman. 
Medieval lit is full of strapping wenches. So is Shakespeare. And endless 
bawdy stories, in blow by blow detail, about what happened when the master of 
the house took a fancy to the "strapping servant girl."

4) It seems to me that instead of asking yourself what the poem is about, 
you're asking yourself how you can prove it's about homosexuality. And you've 
made up your mind in advance that you won't settle for just a few possible 
overtones of homosexuality. You want it to be predominantly or entirely about 
homosexuality, so overwhelmingly that anything else about it just isn't worth 
mentioning.  I honestly don't understand the reasoning (maybe you'll 
explain?), or the reluctance to let the poem be what it is--maybe about 
homosexuality, maybe not, and in either case almost certainly about a lot of 
other things as well. 

It's true there's a minor literary genre produced largely for gay men by gay 
men that's in this very narrow track you're looking for--nothing but "who I 
went to bed with last, how I felt about it,  what we did while we were there, 
and why this was the great love of my life." It doesn't command a very wide 
audience, maybe because of the True Confessions Magazine ambiance. If you 
check out writing by gay men of somewhat more quality or more literary 
stature--say, James Baldwin or Edward Albee--you'll almost invariably find 
that they write about a large number of things--their writing isn't limited 
to "what he did next when I turned him over, and how I felt about it three 
weeks later."  I don't happen to give a hoot if Eliot was gay or not, but 
let's give him credit for being at least as complex as Baldwin or Albee. 
Let's try to avoid forcing either Eliot or Pound into that very narrow track 
where neither of them really fits in any case. And I wonder, in this case 
with Pound, if you aren't grasping at straws.
 
  And the holy hosts of hellenists
  Have numbed and honied his cervic cysts,

It sounds like a crude reference to 
male homosexual anal intercourse.

Maybe you need to add something to your statement, or qualify it in some way. 
The cervix is the neck of the womb. Men don't have cervixes, so can't use 
them in "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,

....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"?

On strapping, see above. It's a fairly common literary idea that life is not 
art---that the artist has to retouch it to make it art. So a strapping 
servant girl who might not be very interesting in real life can be made to 
seem interesting in art. So it sounds to me like a poet might be talking 
about the process of making a poem.

I think it was noticed early on that TWL is pretty hard to brush off  as just 
a poem "about homosexuality." It's loaded with lovers of all kinds, and 
allusions to famous lovers, all of whom are male-female pairs. Hence the 
somewhat bizarre idea that if we assumed some of the women "are really 
supposed to be men," then maybe the theory could be rescued. Since we've 
determined this curious idea was actually started by Knight, and nobody has 
the foggiest idea of what Knight said or what his reasoning is, maybe we need 
the Knight article.


   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 
(TWL)."

"Grudge not" is an imperative, and I assume it's being addressed to Eliot, 
because the entire poem is addressed to Eliot. Maybe he's  being told not to 
envy oysters their simple sexual pleasures. But you'v e lost me on why you 
think poets should be equated with oysters. What points do you see poets and 
oysters having in common? Your next step has me even more baffled. If you 
want poets to be oysters, why is an oyster (Eliot) being told not to envy 
oysters? Doesn't make any sense. Or there's something you've forgotten to 
explain.

pat

========================================================================

In a message dated 3/3/01 10:42:07 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
[log in to unmask] writes:


> Subj:Re: The Uranian confusion
> Date:3/3/01 10:42:07 PM Eastern Standard Time
> From:    [log in to unmask]
> Sender:    [log in to unmask]
> Reply-to: <A HREF="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]</A>
> To:    [log in to unmask]
> 
> 
> 
> 
> 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 
> (TWL)."
> 
>   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 --
> 
> 
> 
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<HTML><FONT FACE=arial,helvetica><FONT  SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>Steve,
<BR>
<BR>I did look at the entire poem. I should have caught on long ago that we have 
<BR>a couple of poets talking about poetry. Not the biggest surprise in the 
<BR>world, as this poem came up in relation to TWL and Pound's editing of TWL. 
<BR>
<BR>1) Pound is a good poet, and he can't stop thinking like a poet even when 
<BR>he's horsing around. So he's got a structure built into his crappy little 
<BR>piece of doggerel--essentially, he's developing a contrast. Notice that he 
<BR>starts with the Uranian muse, the patroness of all that's lofty and even 
<BR>(according to Wicksteed) heavenly. Then he jumps to the other extreme, to the 
<BR>low kind of rhetoric that teenagers like to call "talking dirty." &nbsp;If this 
<BR>spanning of extremes doesn't remind you of Dante, maybe you don't realize 
<BR>that this is one of the most striking things about the Commedia, and that 
<BR>it's often brought out in the lit. Dante spans the whole gamut, from scenes 
<BR>of exquisite beauty to all those stinking marshes and worse. Scenes so 
<BR>disgusting they could make you vomit. Sinners condemned to live in a river of 
<BR>shit, and lurid descripitons of how they're beaten off when they try to climb 
<BR>into the boat. Others with their guts hanging out...it just goes on an on. So 
<BR>it was Pound's implying the whole range of images--highest to lowest--that 
<BR>seemed Dantean, or that reminded me of how the Commedia is often summarized. 
<BR>You didn't notice because maybe you don't realize that there is this aspect 
<BR>with Dante.
<BR>
<BR>2) The rest of your argument, basically, is that obscenity, foul language, 
<BR>and allusions to defecation, body parts, homoeroticism, don't seem you to 
<BR>have anything to do with Dante. &nbsp;Or you don't think Dante would include any 
<BR>of these things in the Commedia. But you're wrong in this case. He includes 
<BR>them all. As I mentioned previously, there's been a large number of articles 
<BR>in recent years about Dante's homosexuals, and if you're interested you can 
<BR>look them up in the Dante Society of America bibliographies. I don't know why 
<BR>so many people have the erroneous idea &nbsp;that ancient and medieval literature 
<BR>is all prissy and sanitized. It just isn't, and Dante isn't.
<BR>
<BR>3) If you check the OED, you'll find that "strapping" was originally applied 
<BR>to young women, and now can be applied to either sex. So there's no 
<BR>foundation for your claim that the word would never be applied to a woman. 
<BR>Medieval lit is full of strapping wenches. So is Shakespeare. And endless 
<BR>bawdy stories, in blow by blow detail, about what happened when the master of 
<BR>the house took a fancy to the "strapping servant girl."
<BR>
<BR>4) It seems to me that instead of asking yourself what the poem is about, 
<BR>you're asking yourself how you can prove it's about homosexuality. And you've 
<BR>made up your mind in advance that you won't settle for just a few possible 
<BR>overtones of homosexuality. You want it to be predominantly or entirely about 
<BR>homosexuality, so overwhelmingly that anything else about it just isn't worth 
<BR>mentioning. &nbsp;I honestly don't understand the reasoning (maybe you'll 
<BR>explain?), or the reluctance to let the poem be what it is--maybe about 
<BR>homosexuality, maybe not, and in either case almost certainly about a lot of 
<BR>other things as well. 
<BR>
<BR>It's true there's a minor literary genre produced largely for gay men by gay 
<BR>men that's in this very narrow track you're looking for--nothing but "who I 
<BR>went to bed with last, how I felt about it, &nbsp;what we did while we were there, 
<BR>and why this was the great love of my life." It doesn't command a very wide 
<BR>audience, maybe because of the True Confessions Magazine ambiance. If you 
<BR>check out writing by gay men of somewhat more quality or more literary 
<BR>stature--say, James Baldwin or Edward Albee--you'll almost invariably find 
<BR>that they write about a large number of things--their writing isn't limited 
<BR>to "what he did next when I turned him over, and how I felt about it three 
<BR>weeks later." &nbsp;I don't happen to give a hoot if Eliot was gay or not, but 
<BR>let's give him credit for being at least as complex as Baldwin or Albee. 
<BR>Let's try to avoid forcing either Eliot or Pound into that very narrow track 
<BR>where neither of them really fits in any case. And I wonder, in this case 
<BR>with Pound, if you aren't grasping at straws.
<BR> 
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B> &nbsp;And the holy hosts of hellenists
<BR> &nbsp;Have numbed and honied his cervic cysts,
<BR>
<BR>It sounds like a crude reference to 
<BR>male homosexual anal intercourse.
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>Maybe you need to add something to your statement, or qualify it in some way. 
<BR>The cervix is the neck of the womb. Men don't have cervixes, so can't use 
<BR>them in "male homosexual anal intercourse."</FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;And then there are the passages we discussed last year, such as:
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;His verse omits realities,
<BR> &nbsp;Angelic hands with mother of pearl
<BR> &nbsp;Retouch the strapping servant girl,
<BR>
<BR>...It sounds to me like Pound is 
<BR>saying Eliot "omitted realities" in TWL and that omission had something to do 
<BR>with "retouching" the image of a "strapping servant girl" (as a photographer 
<BR>retouches a painting, to change something). "Strapping" is a term usually 
<BR>applied to a big man, isn't it? (i.e., that term is not usually applied to a 
<BR>girl). And the "mother of pearl" phrase -- doesn't that remind you of the TWL 
<BR>line "Those are pearls that were HIS eyes"?
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>On strapping, see above. It's a fairly common literary idea that life is not 
<BR>art---that the artist has to retouch it to make it art. So a strapping 
<BR>servant girl who might not be very interesting in real life can be made to 
<BR>seem interesting in art. So it sounds to me like a poet might be talking 
<BR>about the process of making a poem.
<BR>
<BR>I think it was noticed early on that TWL is pretty hard to brush off &nbsp;as just 
<BR>a poem "about homosexuality." It's loaded with lovers of all kinds, and 
<BR>allusions to famous lovers, all of whom are male-female pairs. Hence the 
<BR>somewhat bizarre idea that if we assumed some of the women "are really 
<BR>supposed to be men," then maybe the theory could be rescued. Since we've 
<BR>determined this curious idea was actually started by Knight, and nobody has 
<BR>the foggiest idea of what Knight said or what his reasoning is, maybe we need 
<BR>the Knight article.
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;Then there are the cruder parts of "Sage Homme". "Grudge not the oyster 
<BR>his stiff saliva". Is that a Dante allusion also? My guess is that it means 
<BR>"Don't condemn the poet over the source of his sexual energy ('stiff saliva' 
<BR>-- ejaculate) -- it's what allowed the oyster (Eliot) to produce his pearl 
<BR>(TWL)."
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>"Grudge not" is an imperative, and I assume it's being addressed to Eliot, 
<BR>because the entire poem is addressed to Eliot. Maybe he's &nbsp;being told not to 
<BR>envy oysters their simple sexual pleasures. But you'v e lost me on why you 
<BR>think poets should be equated with oysters. What points do you see poets and 
<BR>oysters having in common? Your next step has me even more baffled. If you 
<BR>want poets to be oysters, why is an oyster (Eliot) being told not to envy 
<BR>oysters? Doesn't make any sense. Or there's something you've forgotten to 
<BR>explain.
<BR>
<BR>pat
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR>========================================================================
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=3 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial Narrow" LANG="0"><B>
<BR>In a message dated 3/3/01 10:42:07 PM Eastern Standard Time, 
<BR>[log in to unmask] writes:
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#000000" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0"></B>
<BR><BLOCKQUOTE TYPE=CITE style="BORDER-LEFT: #0000ff 2px solid; MARGIN-LEFT: 5px; MARGIN-RIGHT: 0px; PADDING-LEFT: 5px">Subj:<B>Re: The Uranian confusion</B>
<BR>Date:3/3/01 10:42:07 PM Eastern Standard Time
<BR>From: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;[log in to unmask]
<BR>Sender: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;[log in to unmask]
<BR>Reply-to: <A HREF="mailto:[log in to unmask]">[log in to unmask]</A>
<BR>To: &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;[log in to unmask]
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>
<BR>In a message dated 3/3/01 9:51:14 PM EST, [log in to unmask] writes:
<BR>
<BR>&gt; Now we have to deal with two subtexts
<BR>&gt; or possible subtexts.
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;1) &nbsp;Did Pound know that the Uranian muse
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;was Dante's muse--that Dante invokes 
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;the Uranian muse in the Commedia? . . .
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;So, yes, I think it's possible that Pound
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;also meant to compliment his "Dantescan"
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;friend by telling him that the muse for TWL
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;must have been Dante's muse.
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;&nbsp;. . .
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;2) Now the second subtext or possible
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;subtext. Is Pound kidding Eliot for 
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;being gay, or because he rightly
<BR>&gt; &nbsp;or wrong believes Eliot to be gay?
<BR>
<BR>I understand you are currently looking at the opening lines of "Sage 
<BR>Homme", 
<BR>and that's a good place to start:
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;These are the poems of Eliot
<BR> &nbsp;By the Uranian Muse begot;
<BR>
<BR>But the poem continues from there. There are lines like:
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;And the holy hosts of hellenists
<BR> &nbsp;Have numbed and honied his cervic cysts,
<BR>
<BR>I don't think THAT'S a tribute to Dante. It sounds like a crude reference 
<BR>to 
<BR>male homosexual anal intercourse.
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;And then there are the passages we discussed last year, such as:
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;His verse omits realities,
<BR> &nbsp;Angelic hands with mother of pearl
<BR> &nbsp;Retouch the strapping servant girl,
<BR>
<BR>which also don't sound like Dante allusions. It sounds to me like Pound is 
<BR>saying Eliot "omitted realities" in TWL and that omission had something to 
<BR>do 
<BR>with "retouching" the image of a "strapping servant girl" (as a 
<BR>photographer 
<BR>retouches a painting, to change something). "Strapping" is a term usually 
<BR>applied to a big man, isn't it? (i.e., that term is not usually applied to 
<BR>a 
<BR>girl). And the "mother of pearl" phrase -- doesn't that remind you of the 
<BR>TWL 
<BR>line "Those are pearls that were HIS eyes"?
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;&nbsp;Then there are the cruder parts of "Sage Homme". "Grudge not the oyster 
<BR>his stiff saliva". Is that a Dante allusion also? My guess is that it means 
<BR>"Don't condemn the poet over the source of his sexual energy ('stiff 
<BR>saliva' 
<BR>-- ejaculate) -- it's what allowed the oyster (Eliot) to produce his pearl 
<BR>(TWL)."
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;And while we're on "crude", let's not forget: "Vates cum fistula" (poet 
<BR>with anal fistula).
<BR>
<BR>
<BR> &nbsp;What I'm saying is that, when "Sage Homme" is taken in its entirety, I 
<BR>find 
<BR>it difficult to see it as a Dante reference, even if one isolated line can 
<BR>have a double meaning. It seems to me to be a sustained joke from Pound to 
<BR>Eliot and the joke is that Eliot is gay. Whether the joke is true or not 
<BR>cannot be determined from "Sage Homme".
<BR>
<BR>-- Steve --
<BR>
<BR></FONT><FONT  COLOR="#0f0f0f" SIZE=2 FAMILY="SANSSERIF" FACE="Arial" LANG="0">
<BR>
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<BR>Date: Sat, 3 Mar 2001 22:40:29 EST
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<BR>Subject: Re: The Uranian confusion
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