In response to yesterday's Waller piece, a guest poem from Sunil Iyengar ...
(Poem #583) Envoi (1919)
Go, dumb-born book, Tell her that sang me once that song of Lawes: Hadst thou but song As thou hast subjects known, Then were there cause in thee that should condone Even my faults that heavy upon me lie, And build her glories their longevity. Tell her that sheds Such treasure in the air, Recking naught else but that her graces give Life to the moment, I would bid them live As roses might, in magic amber laid, Red overwrought with orange and all made One substance and one color Braving time. Tell her that goes With song upon her lips But sings not out the song, nor knows The maker of it, some other mouth, May be as fair as hers, Might, in new ages, gain her worshipers, When our two dusts with Waller's shall be laid, Siftings on siftings in oblivion, Till change hath broken down All things save beauty alone.
There is much to be admired here. Several factors of the poem compel memorization: the hit-and-miss rhyme scheme, the hypnotically quaint diction, and (for me) the spondee-driven last line, which resembles, prosodically, a favorite poem of Pound's: Donne's "The Ecstasy." (The ending there is "Small change when we're to bodies gone.") The quantification of "dust" in the third to last line is mesmerizing. And how about "Siftings on siftings in oblivion," which anyone would thirst to say aloud? In the context of "Hugh Selwyn Mauberly," the lyric anticipates the "Mauberly" sequence, which will have more to say on poetic ambition. The "oblivions" line I have just quoted will resound with this stanza: Thick foliage Placid beneath warm suns, Tawn fore-shored Washed in the cobalt of oblivions. As for the lines "I would bid them live/As roses might, in magic amber laid," here we have the beginnings of Pound's misgivings about imagism's preservative function, whether or not it is really "but an art/In profile." Earlier, he confessed of modern London: Beside this thoroughfare The sale of half-hose has Long since superseded the cultivation Of Pierian roses. Finally, the reference to "Lawes" in "Envoi" speaks to Harry Lawes, the composer who set Edmund Waller's "Go, lovely rose" to music. Milton wrote of Lawes: Harry, whose tuneful and well-measured song First taught our English music how to span Words with just note and accent, not to scan With Midas' ears, committing short and long.... (To Mr. H. Lawes, On His Airs) -- Sunil Iyengar Links: The Waller poem is at poem #582 A Pound biography and assorted details poem #70