Ezra Pound | The Fiend

The example of Pound is central and the teasing out of his good—the good is always what matters—only the good produces the good—even if we need to go into the maze and the well to prove it.

The “cakes and ale” argument attempts to refute the idea of the good person (or the good in the person) as the sole means by which the good poem is made. Heroes are lusty, flawed; cakes and ale sold, served, and consumed; physical beauty, the highest good, in a moment’s impulse, and with a laugh, whored.

So the bad poet writes the good poem (a piece of cake, a drink of ale) and the dream of the good vanishes, like God and the dinosaur. Nothing but appetite is left—and its party discipline critique. Life is caught between the Whore and the Pistol; life is either the Drug or the Drug Police.

The expensive poem is sought but all we get is cheapness, the ink stained mimeograph of the college student freeing himself of college, bucking the drug police, consuming cakes and ale.

The expensive poem is the Ezra Pound chess set with its grey sea and rose red squares, bordered in silk. The Goodly Frere is one king, and Pound himself, the other. Li Po and Villon pawns, T.S. Eliot one of the bishops. Bah! There shall be no peace! Because what is this? War Propaganda minister and pre-raphaelite and U.S. writing program dean Ford Hueffner Ford is one of the knights. Allen Tate, too. James Joyce the liquid rook, Lady Bank Note a queen. And what’s this? Mussolini is one of the pieces…

An expensive chess set, indeed…

It’s Ezra! pal to Eliot (Auden), Williams (Ginsberg), Oppen (Stalin) who draws everyone into the black hole of his person and his friends and his influence—the black hole, the gotterdamerung, the last wheezing fit, the death consummation of the final orgy, Romanticism befouled by Modernism, the beautiful perishing in the copying machine’s embrace.

Charles Bernstein’s Buffalo (Super Bowl losers) rebellion of nothing, crying over “Official Verse Culture” (already dead! A black hole! either that, or the last hope and Bernstein too stupid to see this Gerald Stern asks Bernstein in Tuscaloosa 1984 literary conference with Lady Blank Notes Vendler and Perloff and other Ack-ademic toadies Names names give me names who are the “policeman poets” of “Official Verse Culture?” Bernstein silent shuddering weak can’t name one thinks of Pound’s many arms, feels the sucking of Pound’s gravity, sees Jarrell flying by on a broom “We’re all romantics!!” Bernstein lacks a language, sweats, stammers, Vendler gives him a look ‘oh come on charles we had such high hopes for you’ the other wymyn in the room feel nothing but disgust finally squeaks, “eliot.”

Trickle Down Poetry. Ack-ademic wheezing soipcism of theological brain dead theorectumical inaccessible pretense poetry. Romanticism spoilt. Nuttin’ left to do. Be gag-ademic and consume grants and ale. Be spoilt brats and committ suicide or long long pee in pants as tenured prof. Go live on a farm. Write dingle berry old man poetry.

Who spoilt Romanticism? Who drove the final stake into chaste, picture of horror, poe? who killt Schiller and dishonored the wan sonnet dream?

Pound. He swore he would eliminate what had just happened—Keats (Pound was in fact keats-lite) and Shelley and Byron and Tennyson and Millay and Edwin Arlington Robinson and do a HALF-good job of diving back into the good, accessible, fresh air civilization folk culture of more ancient times, be a lusty Ruskin of PRE Milton/Raphael with help from Eliot who went back to Metaphysicals while damning Hamlet and Milton and Shelley and Poe under the banner of FAKE TWEEDY RELIGION—Pound, the half-Romantic, went back to times of poetry covered in mist—indulging in Romantic-lite, making concoctions that were part folk poetry and part ass-puke, making a witches brew of half-baked chaos so that Modernism could legitimately be a pile of stinking license for trickle down, whored out folk verses, and whatever it wanted to be, as long as it wasn’t good.

The bad, in the name of cakes and ale, know exactly what good is—and don’t want it. Actively revile it.

This is what every poet learns early on, and we might as well go all in, what every soul learns early on. The good is hated by the ‘cakes and ale’ crowd and they don’t want it. And this crowd is everywhere.

I just wrote a good poem. Do you want to see it?

If it’s really good? Nah. Get that shit out of here.

But if it smells like beer? Yah. Let me take a look.

Bad people write good poetry.

This simple formula, bad people write good poetry, if believed, does what?

It moves mountains. It lifts up the bold and murders all who stand in your way.

It eliminates the good.

Pound is essential, because he is the license maker who was partly good—studied and wrote/translated examples of folk poetry which is accessible and is the secret to the art:

the revolutionary peasant formula is not complicated—teach the young to write and think clearly, have a strong imagination (sympathy) a sense of beauty, a love of virtue and invention, love the old, the outdoors, other people, use grammar, be musical, humorous, philosophical, never pedantic and be as crazy and passionate and unique as you want and don’t be afraid to be fucking GOOD even if all your “mentors” and potential mentors hate you for it).

Pound was partly good: The Ballad of the Goodly Frere, The Merchant Rivers Wife. You know the good ones. I don’t have to tell you.

Pound was also bad. Again, I don’t need to tell you. The dribble writing, the dribble of his associates. His behavior, his crackpot literary opinions, the whole Modernist, pre-raphaelite schtick of utter and bogus license.

This Pound hybrid, which finally dragged down the good and left a bunch of Charles Olsons and Charles Bernsteins and Trickle Down advocates and cakes and ale puke in its wake, this Hybreed, is why Pound has essentially become the gatekeeper of all poetry and how, hated, or secretly loved, he DEFINES everything. Was he a secret agent? I don’t know, but Pound, you pirate bastard, goddamn, you did it.

And by far the worst legacy is the philosophical bankruptcy of the conniving, innocuous-seeming formula: Bad people write good poetry. This is the expense we finally cannot afford.

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