October 14, 2016

"... poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music..."

Wrote Ezra Pound in "ABC of Reading":
I was talking about Ezra Pound and "ABC of Reading" in connection with Bob Dylan's winning the Nobel Prize in Literature. Some people had been saying songs are not "literature," and I was looking at the etymology of the word "literature" and ran into another quote from Ezra Pound. (It was: "Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.")

In the comments, Jeff Gee got me pointed to the quote clipped out above.

What's that Latin? It's Horace, saying:
Now drink
Now with loose feet
Beat the earth 
Pulsanda! I love that word. I need another rat just so I can call her Pulsanda.


Version 2



chickelit said...

Althouse: Please fix the graphics link.Thanks!

Big Mike said...

I still prefer Rattatz

Ann Althouse said...

What graphics link is bothering you? It all looks right to me.

Ann Althouse said...

If you don't like the PDF of the whole book, you can get the book at Amazon here.

Ann Althouse said...

The screen grab I did is page 14 of the PDF.

Ann Althouse said...

"I still prefer Rattatz"

Well, yeah, I assume so. Rattatz won in a competition of 8 that I didn't even let Pulsanda enter.

Eric the Fruit Bat said...

Well, sure. And it goes without saying that dance begins to atrophy when it gets too far from architecture.

chickelit said...

I still prefer Rattatz

Me too. Rattatz is the only one that reflects evolutionary fitness of a rat. Rattatz' tail is the proper body length long; Rattatz' head is roughly in proportion to the other body parts. A rat's head, like new born baby, is its largest part (rats have collapsable rib cages to wriggle through through crevasses). I called this "anatomically correct" in an earlier comment. Yes, I appreciate rodent realism.

chickelit said...

Ann Althouse said...What graphics link is bothering you? It all looks right to me.

When I first loaded the page, it loaded as a close-up of Pulsandra's ears only. Clicking on the graphic led to a dead end. It appears to have fixed itself so I withdraw my objection. Thanks for looking into it though.

Rob said...

I admit it: at first I thought you'd named your new rat Pudenda.

robother said...

Music and dance. Yes that's the best explanation for the withering of jazz as popular music (as Charlie Parker, Brubeck et al turned it into modern art) and the rise of rock n' roll; "its got a good beat and I give it a 7."

Same could be said of poetry losing its music, as the modernists bled it of rhyme, rhythm and gaudiness.

Laslo Spatula said...

I realize no one is going to attempt to discuss or defend Dylan's Whiteness in the White Appreciation Cul-de-sac of White Artists' Art.

But does no one find it uncomfortable that in posts about Dylan -- a Jew -- Althouse keeps inserting drawings of rats?

If she could see this from outside her body would she not take herself to task?

I mean, Trump used a Jewish Star in an ad. Was on purpose, right? These things just don't happen by coincidence, do they?

Asking the things no one answers.

I am Laslo.

bearing said...

I think you might want to rethink the name a bit.

The translation of the excerpt standing alone is more literally rendered

Now is the time to drink
I set my feet free
The earth must be beaten.

"Pulsanda" as a name would mean "she who must be beaten."

(It's like "Amanda," which means "she who must be beloved." Ama- is the stem of the verb "love."

chickelit said...

Great retort, bearing!

MisterBuddwing said...

Pound was a notorious anti-Semite, was he not?

Christopher said...

Pulsanda means "must be" or "about to be beaten." Not a propitious name, for a rat.

Ann Althouse said...

"Rattatz' tail is the proper body length long..."

I'm confined to the screen. If you don't plan ahead and make the body small, it's hard to find room for the tail. You could imagine the tail continuing beyond the edge of the screen. Or I could draw a box and tell you the rat is entirely inside the box.

chickelit said...

I'm confined to the screen.

Just as a painter is confined by the canvass. But with Rattatz, you did pull it off -- quite well, IMHO. This is praise, Althouse, not criticism.

coupe said...

MisterBuddwing said...Pound was a notorious anti-Semite, was he not?

He was a fascist. It follows that he could not have any regard for Jews and their Capitalist enclaves.

The US had him tortured after the war, and he was never a problem after that.

Ann Althouse said...

"Just as a painter is confined by the canvass."

The painter chooses a canvas suited to the subject, and it's a lot larger than an iPhone screen.

The key is the relationship between the drawing tool and the surface.

The fingertip is really blunt in relation to the iPhone screen. But I'm enjoying the limitation. Just saying the tail is something that continues off-screen. There's the option of putting even less on screen, so that the cut-off point doesn't look like just a too-short thing. That's the tail problem. Could do just the head. Or just the paw... in the manner of White Fang on Soupy Sales.

Foose said...

bearing said: "The earth must be beaten.
'Pulsanda' as a name would mean 'she who must be beaten.'"

I read somewhere that Horace wrote the poem to commemorate the defeat/suicide of Cleopatra and Antony at Actium, with Cleopatra especially the bete noire of his patron, Octavian Augustus, so perhaps the female usage has another (Trumpian?) layer of meaning.

Michael said...

Ezra Pound!! Next you'll be quoting Heidegger or Julius Evola.

Rockport Conservative said...

Pulsanda, the beauty queen of the rat pack.

navillus said...

"Nunc est bibendum" is the Michelin tire company's longtime slogan. The use of the phrase eventually gave the Michelin man his name- Bibendum. http://imgc.allpostersimages.com/images/P-473-488-90/20/2059/Z8D2D00Z/posters/le-pneu-michelin-nunc-est-bibendum.jpg

Owen said...

Pulsanda: pounding the earth.
Pound: unearthing Horace.
Horace: quoting a Greek poet.

Distinct strata of words, joined with music.

nb said...

Possibly poetry also atrophies when it gets too close to music. This may be true of Dylan.

rcocean said...

I would not like them
here or there.
I would not like them
I do not like
green eggs and ham.
I do not like them,

Where is Dr. Seuss' Nobel Prize?

rcocean said...

T.S Eliot, the man who robbed Cole Porter out of a Nobel Prize.

rcocean said...

My PE coach was a poet. He would roll his cart and say:

A tisket,
A tasket,
put the towel in the basket.

I still remember that after 30 years.

Literature at its finest.

Jose_K said...

Will Dylan refuse the Prize?

Howard said...

Nailed It!
Blogger Howard said...

This is a great choice. People lament poetry is dead don't properly listen to music. Hopefully this will not be the first and only songwriter to receive this award. I'd have to say that the cautionary tale of hubris in Like a Rolling Stone is the most influential Dylan song for me likely because it plays like a traditional rock and roll song, so I actually bothered to learn the words.

10/13/16, 10:41 AM

Howard said...

I was so toadally stoked when the Bob Dylan won the dyn-o-mite prize. Just a few days before, was listening to the radio to some crap new americana song from some austin texas wannabe and it hit me. The song was crap because it was written like an essay and not a poem. All great songs are poems... and apparently to your standard intellectual anti-semite all great poems are songs. The Universe may be indifferent, but it's symmetrical.

ellamentary said...

Bearing, I'd translate the second and third lines a shade differently--- "Now is the time to beat the earth with a free foot." Horace is such fun. He's saying now it is time to drink and dance. But I agree with you that on its own, the word pulsanda is a gerundive meaning "she should be (or must be) beaten." Not a propitious name for a rat or any other creature, even as it does have a lovely lyrical sound to it.

"Cartago delenda est" rolls off the tongue as well, after all.

chickelit said...

Jose_K speculates: Will Dylan refuse the Prize?

He will not.

Roy Lofquist said...

Praise be to Nero’s Neptune
The Titanic sails at dawn
And everybody’s shouting
“Which Side Are You On?”
And Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot
Fighting in the captain’s tower
While calypso singers laugh at them
And fishermen hold flowers
Between the windows of the sea
Where lovely mermaids flow
And nobody has to think too much
About Desolation Row