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315  Epitaphs  [From Giles’s History] [Fu I1 ] Fu I loved the green hills and the white clouds. . . [Fu I loved the high cloud and the hill,] Alas! he died of drink. [Alas, he died of alcohol.] [Li Po2 ] After more wanderings and much adventure, he was drowned on a journey, from leaning one night too far over the edge of a boat in a drunken effort [And Li Po also died drunk.] to embrace the reflection of the moon. [He tried to embrace a moon In the Yellow River.] Notes EPITAPHS(Lustra, 65) These two “epitaphs” were adapted from passages in Herbert Giles’s A History of Chinese Literature (London: William Heinemann, 1901), given here in italics, and first appeared in Blast 1 (June 1914, 48) before Pound had begun working on the Fenollosa notebooks later that year. 1. Fu I: Fu Yi 傅奕 (555–639) was an official historiographer and scholar of Daoism who vigorously opposed the non-Confucian morality of Buddhism and the superstitions of popular Buddhist practices, as Giles explains on the same page as the source (135). Pound alludes to the same history in Canto 54: “Fou stood against foé, damn bhuddhists”; and four lines later: “Fou-Y saying they use muzzy language/the more to mislead folk.” This epitaph, supposedly composed by Fu Yi himself in anticipation of his death, appears in the first official history of the Tang dynasty (舊唐書) compiled in the 10th century. The sense is: “Fu Yi was a man of the green mountains and the white clouds, who drank himself to death. Cry woe is me!” (傅奕青山白雲人也,因酒醉死,鳴呼哀哉). Pound’s footnote in Blast reads: “Fu Yi was born in 554 A.D. and died in 639. This is his epitaph very much as he wrote it.” In that version, the entire poem is enclosed in quotation marks. 2. Li Po: Pound invented this “epitaph” for Li Bo from the apocryphal anecdote about his death, which Giles uses to introduce Li’s famous poem “Drinking Alone Under the Moon” (月下獨酌) (153). (Incidentally, Mori tells the same story in one of his lectures; 100–4235:14r). Pound, however, drowns him in the “Yellow River,” whereas Li Bo died over three hundred miles to the south in Dangtu 當涂 in Anhui Province, located along the Yangzi River. Li Bo probably died from illness, but Arthur Waley , who disliked what he considered to be the immorality of the poet’s lifestyle, sardonically quipped that he must have contracted his fatal illness from falling into the water while drunk. Pound, however, 316 Cribs for Cathay & Other Poems admired the hard-drinking abandon of these two poets, as is suggested by his juxtaposition of these epitaphs in Lustra on the same page with a short poem called “Our Contemporaries,” which seems to have been intended to mock the sentimental poetry of Rupert Brooke, who was upheld by the British literary establishment as the darling unofficial poet laureate of the war: Our Contemporaries WHEN the Taihaitian [sic] princess Heard that he had decided, She rushed out into the sunlight and swarmed up a cocoanut palm tree, But he returned to this island And wrote ninety Petrarchan sonnets. NOTE.—II s’agit d’un jeune poète qui a suivi le culte de Gauguin jusqu’à Tahiti même (et qui vit encore). Étant fort bel homme, quand la princesse bistre entendit qu’il voulait lui accorder ses faveurs elle montra son allegresse de la façon dont nous venons de parler. Malheureusement ses poèmes ne sont remplis que de ses propres subjectivités, style Victorien de la “Georgian Anthology.” [This concerns a young poet who followed the cult of Gauguin all the way to Tahiti (and who is still living). Since he was a handsome man, when the dusky princess heard that he wished to bestow his favors upon her she showed her delight in the manner just described. Unfortunately, his poems are filled with nothing but his own subjective thoughts, in the Victorian style of the “Georgian Anthology.”] Brooke was believed to have fathered a daughter with a Tahitian woman named Taatamata, and he did write sonnets in the Victorian style, including his famous “The Soldier.” (See Haun Saussy’s foreword.) First published in Blast 2 (July 1915), Pound’s satire unfortunately appeared not long after Brooke’s accidental death, fostering widespread animosity toward Pound among the literary establishment, which is partly what Pound deplores with paranoid vitriol in his final note in Cathay. See Richard Sieburth’s comments in Timothy Billings...

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Additional Information

ISBN
9780823281398
Related ISBN
9780823281060
MARC Record
OCLC
1076879185
Pages
364
Launched on MUSE
2018-12-06
Language
English
Open Access
No
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