CANTO I

 

And then went down to the ship,

 

Probably the first time an epic began in the middle of a sentence. *Thus EP notifies us at once that he will present fragments ["luminous details," ideograms]

 

* Canto I published 1917. Finnegans Wake begun 1922.

 

Set keel to breakers, forth on the godly sea, and

 

"godly sea": first divine presence in the poem. Cf

Bucky Fuller's claim that the first deity was

a "mathematicizing sea-god"

 

We set up mast and sail on that swart ship,

Bore sheep aboard her, and our bodies also

Heavy with weeping, and winds from sternward

Bore us onward with bellying canvas,

Circe's this craft, the trim-coifed goddess.

 

Translating from Homer [via Divus: see below] but

EP uses alliteration and some archaism to suggest

early Anglo-Saxon  poems like "The Seafarer."

He considered this episode the oldest part of

the Odyssey because of its archaisms. The

Descent to the Underworld cd indeed contain

parts of an ancient death/rebirth initiation ritual.

 

Then sat we amidships, wind jamming the tiller,

Thus with stretched sail, we went over sea till day's end.

Sun to his slumber, shadows o'er all the ocean,

Came we then to the bounds of deepest water,

To the Kimmerian lands, and peopled cities

Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever

With glitter of sun-rays

Nor with stars stretched, nor looking back from heaven

Swartest night stretched over wreteched men there.

 

Read as stretchED and wretchED. Supposed to sound

 archaic....Also read unpiercED.....

BTW, in any translation, the Kimmerian lands always

sound like Ireland in the winter to me.

 

The ocean flowing backward, came we then to the place

Aforesaid by Circe.

Here did they rites, Perimedes and Eurylochus,

And drawing sword from my hip

I dug the ell-square pitkin;

 

The first "I"; until now we have only had "we" & "our"

and "us." Indicates the sudden emergence of Western

Individualism from previous Wholism, I think. Cf Canto

52, translated an equally ancient Chinese text presenting

Wholism. The poem seeks a synthesis of the best

of East and West. Pitkin: small pit – deliberately archaic,

maintaining "Seafarer" flavor.

 

Poured we libations unto each the dead,

First mead and then sweet wine, water mixed with white flour

Then prayed I many a prayer to the sickly death's-heads;

As set in Ithaca, sterile bulls of the best

For sacrifice, heaping the pyre with goods,

A sheep to Tiresias only, black and a bell-sheep.

Dark blood flowed in the fosse,

Souls out of Erebus, cadaverous dead, of brides

Of youths and of the old who had borne much;

Souls stained with recent tears, girls tender,

Men many, mauled with bronze lance heads,

Battle spoil, bearing yet dreory arms,

These many crowded about me; with shouting,

Pallor upon me, cried to my men for more beasts;

Slaughtered the herds, sheep slain of bronze;

Poured ointment, cried to the gods,

To Pluto the strong, and praised Proserpine;

Unsheathed the narrow sword,

I sat to keep off the impetuous impotent dead,

Till I should hear Tiresias.

 

I love the rhythm of sea-surge here, and

how it unites the Saxon/Seafarer alliterations with

Homer's own rolling sea-sound

 

But first Elpenor came, our friend Elpenor,

Unburied, cast on the wide earth,

Limbs that we left in the house of Circe,

Unwept, unwrapped in the sepulchre, since toils urged other.

Pitiful spirit. And I cried in hurried speech:

"Elpenor, how art thou come to this dark coast?

"Cam'st thou afoot, outstripping seamen?"

And he in heavy speech:

"Ill fate and abundant wine. I slept in Crice's ingle.

"Going down the long ladder unguarded,

"I fell against the buttress,

"Shattered the nape-nerve, the soul sought Avernus.

"But thou, O King, I bid remember me, unwept, unburied,

"Heap up mine arms, be tomb by sea-bord, and inscribed:

"A man of no fortune, and with a name to come.

"And set my oar up, that I swung mid fellows."

 

Pound cdn't have planned it, but later, in the death cells

 at Pisa [Canto 74 et seq], he becomes  Elpenor.....

 

And Anticlea came, whom I beat off, and then Tiresias Theban,

Holding his golden wand, knew me, and spoke first:

"A second time? why? man of ill star,

"Facing the sunless dead and this joyless region?

"Stand from the fosse, leave me my bloody bever

"For soothsay."

And I stepped back,

And he strong with the blood, said then: "Odysseus

"Shalt return through spiteful Neptune, over dark seas,

"Lose all companions." Then Anticlea came.

 

Prepare for a quantum jump:

 

Lie quiet Divus. I mean, that is Andreas Divus,

In officina Wecheli, 1538, out of Homer.

 

Ez reveals his source: not Homer directly

but the 1538 Latin translation of Divus—the

text best known to the Renaissance figures

who dominate the first 30 Cantos. Pound

considers Divus part of what he calls the

paideuma of that period [modern: the

reality-tunnel or gloss]

 

And he sailed, by Sirens and thence outwards and away

And unto Circe.

 

No longer "I" but "he."

Change to 3rd person indicates the "perspectivism"

of the Cantos.

 

Venerandam,

 

I prefer Arlen's translation of this powerful word

to all others: "she who must be adored."

Strongest declension in Latin.

 

In the Cretan's phrase, with the golden crown, Aphrodite,

Cypri munimenta sortita est, mirthful, oricalchi, with golden

Girdle and breast bands, thou with dark eyelids

Bearing the golden bough of Argicidia. So that:

 

Bits from a pseudo-Homeric hymn to the Love Goddess,

which Divus tacked on at the end of his Odyssey.

Note the "mirthful": this foreshadows the union

of amor and hilaritas  in the closing Cantos.

 

Bearing the golden bough of Argicidia. So that:

 

Canto 1 began in the middle of a sentence,

and ends in the middle of another sentence:

emphasis on fragments --which eventually form ideograms

 

I wonder where Joyce got the idea of beginning

and ending Finnegans Wake in mid-sentences?

 

Wal, Ez probably got the idea of using a Homeric

frame for the Cantos from Ulysses...