“Ezra Pound. Venice. 1971” by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Gelatin Silver Print.

 

Harsh light breaks upon him

from above and to our left.

It fills his unruly white hair.

In pale shadow, his face glares at us.

This is Pound at the very end

— after the tiger cage, after the nuthouse,

after the many mannerisms

(Propertius, Li Po, Cavalcante),

after biting his thumb a thousand times

at poor old Patria Mia – this is Pound,

as they say, circling the drain.

 

We might expect repose from

the wintry old man, surcease.

The years that bring

the philosophic mind, maybe.

Once Pound imagined old age

as being “at peace and trans-

sentient as a wood pool.”

Now Pound does not look like he is at peace,

looks nothing like a wood pool.

The face that meets the lens is lined and fierce

and undisguised in its contempt.

It is the face of a man about to spit.

 

Benjamin Goluboff teaches English at Lake Forest College. Aside from a modest list of scholarly publications, he has placed imaginative work — essays, stories, and poems — in Hayden’s Ferry Review, Dead Flowers, Ascent, Cabinet, Anobium, Jewish Currents, Misfit, and elsewhere. Some of his work can be read at http://www.lakeforest.edu/academics/faculty/goluboff/

 

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