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Praise of Ysolt
by Ezra Pound
from Personae (1909)

In vain have I striven,
     to teach my heart to bow;
In vain have I said to him
“There be many singers greater than thou.”

But his answer cometh, as winds and as lutany,
As a vague crying upon the night
That leaveth me no rest, saying ever,
                              “Song, a song.”

Their echoes play upon each other in the twilight
Seeking ever a song.
Lo, I am worn with travail
And the wandering of many roads hath made my eyes
As dark red circles filled with dust.
Yet there is a trembling upon me in the twilight,
     And little red elf words crying “A song,”
     Little grey elf words crying for a song,
     Little brown leaf words crying “A song,”
     Little green leaf words crying for a song.
The words are as leaves, old brown leaves in the spring time
Blowing they know not whither, seeking a song.

White words as snow flakes but they are cold,
Moss words, lip words, words of slow streams.

In vain have I striven
     to teach my soul to bow,
In vain have I pled with him:
     “There be greater souls than thou.”

For in the morn of my years there came a woman
As moonlight calling,
As the moon calleth the tides,
                              “Song, a song.”
Wherefore I made her a song and she went from me
As the moon doth from the sea,
But still came the leaf words, little brown elf words
Saying “The soul sendeth us.”
                              “A song, a song!”
And in vain I cried unto them “I have no song
For she I sang of hath gone from me.”

But my soul sent a woman, a woman of the wonderfolk,
A woman as fire upon the pine woods
     crying “Song, a song.”
As the flame crieth unto the sap.
My song was ablaze with her and she went from me
As flame leaveth the embers so went she unto new forests
And the words were with me
     crying ever “Song, a song.”

And I “I have no song,”
Till my soul sent a woman as the sun:
Yea as the sun calleth to the seed,
As the spring upon the bough
So is she that cometh, the mother of songs,
She that holdeth the wonder words within her eyes
The words, little elf words
     that call ever unto me,
                              “Song, a song.”

In vain have I striven with my soul
     to teach my soul to bow.
What soul boweth
     while in his heart art thou? 




 

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