Canto XV


Pound's horror at World War I

combined with his horror that

the profiteers remained in power


The saccharescent, lying in glucose,

the pompous in cotton wool

           with a stench like the fats at Grasse,


Glucose: sweetness; cotton wool: warm fuzzy;

Grasse: perfume manufacturing...

but the odor around Grasse stank to high heaven.

Imagery conveys filth and stink under sweet clean surface


the great scabrous arse-hole, sh-tting flies,

           rumbling with imperialism,


[why Ez left London in 1919.....?]


ultimate urinal, middan, pisswallow without a cloaca,

. . . . . . r less rowdy, . . . . . . episcopus

           . . . . . . . . sis,

           head down, screwed into the swill,

his legs waving and pustular,

           a clerical jock strap hanging back over the navel

his condom full of black beetles,


Burroughs admired Ez; his insect/horror

imagery owes a lot to these Cantos [14-15]


           tattoo marks round the anus,

and a circle of lady golfers about him.

the courageous violent

           slashing themselves with knives,

the cowardly inciters to violence


"The courageous violent/slashing themselves"

suggests Buddhist doctrine of all violence

as self-destruction;

the inciters: presumably, the press

and the rev. clergy, and behind

them the money-lords


. . . . . n and. . . . . . . .h eaten by weevils,

. . . . . . ll like a swollen foetus,


........ll probably Churchill


        the beast with a hundred legs, USURA


Usury as a giant insect; more imagery

that influenced Burroughs


and the swill full of respecters,

           bowing to the lords of the place,

explaining its advantages,


No modern Inferno wd seem compleat

without mentioning those who "explain" its advantages


           and the laudatores temporis acti

claiming that the sh-t used to be blacker and richer


"singers praising past ages:" Ez does NOT

want to become confused with them. He

looks to the past only for things useful

in the future, the New Paideuma


and the fabians crying for the petrification of putrefaction,

for a new dung-flow cut in lozenges,

the conservatives chatting,

           distinguished by gaiters of slum-flesh,

and the back-scratchers in a great circle,

           complaining of insufficient attention,

the search without end, counterclaim for the missing scratch

the litigious,

a green bile-sweat, the news owners, . . . . s

           the anonymous

. . . . . . . . ffe, broken

           his head shot like a cannon-ball toward the glass gate,

peering through it an instant,

           falling back to the trunk, epileptic

et nulla fidentia inter eos,


'and no trust among them'


           all with their twitching backs,

with daggers, and bottle ends, waiting an

           unguarded moment;


Surrealist/Dantean image that perfectly

describes why I, ego scriptor, loathe big

cities in the modern world


a stench, stuck in the nostrils;

beneath one

           nothing that might not move,

mobile earth, a dung hatching obscenities,

           inchoate error,

boredom born out of boredom,

british weeklies, copies of the . . . . . . . . . . c,

a multiple. . . . . . nn,

and I said, "How is it done?"

           and my guide:

This sort breeds by scission,

This is the fourmillionth tumour.

In this bolge bores are gathered,

Infinite pus flakes, scabs of a lasting pox.


Dante didn't include bores in his Inferno

but Ez does....


skin-flakes, repetitions, erosions,

endless rain from the arse-hairs,

as the earth moves, the centre

       passes over all parts in succession,

a continual bum-belch

           distributing its productions.


Compare the ugliness here with the radiant

beauty in earlier Cantos, e.g. II or IV



           One's feet sunk,

the welsh of mud gripped one, no hand-rail,

the bog suck like a whirl-pool,

and he said:

           Close the pores of your feet!

And my eyes clung to the horizon,

           oil mixing with soot;

and again Plotinus:


Dante's guide was Vergil; Pound prefers

Plotinus, who reappears, with reservations,

in the paradiso


           To the door,

Keep your eyes on the mirror.

Prayed to the Medusa,

           petrifying the soil by the shield,

Holding it downward

           he hardened the track

Inch before us, by inch,

           the matter resisting,

The heads rose from the shield,

           hissing, held downwards.

Devouring maggots,

           the face only half potent,

The serpents' tongues

           grazing the swill top,

Hammering the souse into hardness,

           the narrow rast,

Half the width of a sword's edge.

           By this through the dern evil,

now sinking, now clinging,

           Holding the unsinkable shield.


           forget how long,

sleep, fainting nausea.

           "Whether in Naishapur or Babylon"

I heard in the dream.

           Plotinus gone,

And the shield tied under me, woke;

The gate swung on its hinges;

Panting like a sick dog, staggered,

Bathed in alkali, and in acid.

'Helion t' 'Helion


Pronounced more or less

Aylyon taylyon: the sun, the sun


           blind with the sunlight,

Swollen-eyed, rested,

           lids  sinking, darkness unconscious.