Canto XIII brings to the surface all the Chinese themes
that occured almost subliminally in Cantos II-VII;
it thus forms a kind of climax, an undercurrent breaking
into a single wave. This "climax" serves as overture to
the major Chinese Cantos later.....and looks at
the theme of Odysseus/Occidental individualism from OUTSIDE
"How you gonna keep [Eliot] in his feedbox when I
bring in the Chinas & blackmen? He won't like no
Chinas and blackmen in a book about Kulcher, dat
bein his lowdown Anglican iggorunce."
-- E.P. to his British publisher
by the dynastic temple
and into the cedar grove,
and then out by the lower river,
If it looks prosey, try it ALOUD
And with him Kieu, Tchi
and Tian the low speaking
And "we are unknown," said Kung,
"You will take up charioteering?
Then you will become known,
"Or perhaps I should take up charioteering, or archery?
"Or the practice of public speaking?"
According to the Lun Yu, Kung never spoke
about feats of strength or marvels of nature
And Tseu-lou said, "I would put the defences in order,"
An echo of Sigismundo Malatesta? One kind of order....
And Khieu said, "If I were lord of a province
I would put it in better order than this is."
The "correct" Confucian answer; another
kind of order. But wait --
And Tchi said, "I would prefer a small mountain temple,
"With order in the observances,
with a suitable performance of the ritual."
This sort of thing usually arouses Ez's grumpiness
--but wait--a third kind of order --
And Tian said, with his hand on the strings of his lute
The low sounds continuing
after his hand left the strings,
And the sound went up like smoke, under the leaves,
And he looked after the sound:
"The old swimming hole,
"And the boys flopping off the planks,
"Or sitting in the underbrush playing mandolins."
Echo of troubadour nature poets in Cantos IV-V;
a Daoist attitude: Order always implicit.
And Kung smiled upon all of them equally.
And Thseng-sie desired to know:
"Which had answered correctly?"
And Kung said, "They have all answered correctly,
"That is to say, each in his nature."
"Every duck is a perfect duck." This forecasts
EP's use of "each in the name of his god"
[from Ezekiel?] in Cantos 74 et seq
And Kung raised his cane against Yuan Jang,
Yuan Jang being his elder,
For Yuan Jang sat by the roadside pretending to
be receiving wisdom.
And Kung said
"You old fool, come out of it,
Get up and do something useful."
But some ducks are less perfect than others?
Work on that koan for a while......
[Ez had low tolerance or no tolerance for any
mysticism not grounded in social conscience.]
And Kung said
"Respect a child's faculties
"From the moment it inhales the clear air,
"But a man of fifty who knows nothing
Is worthy of no respect."
Most of these quotes EP's own translations from
the Lun Yu. I think he wants Kungfutse to sound
like a Lincolnesquean Jefferson.
And "When the prince has gathered about him
"All the savants and artists, his riches will be fully employed."
Definite echo of Malatesta/ultimate opposite of
Baldy Bacon and the presbyterian slum-owners in
previous Canto XII
And Kung said, and wrote on the bo leaves:
If a man have not order within him
His family will not act with due order;
And if the prince have not order within him
He can not put order in his dominions.
Exploring the Chinese concept of "order"
will occupy several Cantos later on
And Kung gave the words "order"
and "brotherly deference"
And said nothing of the "life after death."
Voltaire and Pound both turned on by this aspect of Kung fu Tse. Ez frequently quotes in his letters Voltaire's delight at Kung as "the first man in history who DIDN'T have a Divine Revelation."
And he said
"Anyone can run to excesses,
It is easy to shoot past the mark,
It is hard to stand firm in the middle."
"Stand firm in the middle" =
The Chung + Yung ideograms which Ez later rendered
as "the unwavering axis" and even later "the
unwobbling pivot." Inner gyroscope?
And they said: If a man commit murder
Should his father protect him, and hide him?
And Kung said:
He should hide him.
Family above law. Family organic, law abstract.
Never surrender the organic to the abstract.
And Kung gave his daughter to Kong-Tch'ang
Although Kong-Tch'ang was in prison.
And he gave his niece to Nan-Young
although Nan-Young was out of office.
"Gave" in the ancient sense. The girls had no choice. Cf dark parts of Rennaisance Cantos, slavery theme in Jefferson Cantos, etc. Ez always includes the warts.
And Kung said "Wang ruled with moderation,
In his day the State was well kept,
And even I can remember
A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
I mean for things they didn't know,
But that time seems to be passing."
An echo, or subject-rhyme, with the historian Varchi a few Cantos back, who wdn't guess about what he didn't know.
And Kung said, "Without character you will
be unable to play on that instrument
Or to execute the music fit for the Odes.
Character + music become major themes in the Paradiso Cantos
The blossoms of the apricot
blow from the east to the west,
And I have tried to keep them from falling."
Neo-Confucian texts, from which Ez worked, have
many flashes of Daoism...