A Movie Log

A blog formerly known as Bookishness

By Charles Matthews

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Poem of the Day: Ezra Pound

A Study in Aesthetics 

The very small children in patched clothing,
Being smitten with an unusual wisdom,
Stopped in their play as she passed them
And cried up from their cobbles:
                 
                    Guarda! Ahi, guarda! ch' è be' a!

But three years after this
I heard the young Dante, whose last name I do not know --
For there are in Sirmione, twenty-eight young Dantes
     and thirty-four Catulli;
And there had been a great catch of sardines,
And his elders
Were packing them in the great wooden boxes
For the market in Brescia, and he
Leapt about, snatching at the bright fish
And getting in both of their ways;
And in vain they commanded him to sta fermo!
And when they would not let him arrange
The fish in the boxes
He stroked those which were already arranged,
Murmuring for his own satisfaction
This identical phrase:

                                          Ch' è  be' a.

And at this I was mildly abashed.
--Ezra Pound

I think if Pound had written more poems like this one and fewer Cantos, I'd like him a lot more. The Italian says, "Look! Oh, look! How beautiful she is!" and sta fermo means "stand still."