Ezra Pound’s reading of Canto I is sonorous; perhaps he copied the reading style of his former boss, W. B. Yeats. The oft trilled words seem stark and clear. Pound wanted his Cantos to be epic like Homer, and Canto I is a retelling of parts of the Odyssey, dark stuff, flight, and hell and spiteful Neptune. Its language is often obscure, arcane, made up. One wonders if the future will want to spend the time to figure it out and conjure it up. T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land is luckier in this regard because it can be entertaining without understanding its underlying references.

In this reading, Pound edits out the line: “To the Kimmerian lands, and the people cities,” which is perhaps the most uninteresting line in the Canto, and when taken out, these lines

Came we then to the bounds of deepest water,
To the Kimmerian lands, and peopled cities
Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever
With glitter of sun-rays

become these

Came we then to the bounds of deepest water,
Covered with close-webbed mist, unpierced ever
With glitter of sun-rays

It isn’t the land now covered by the mist, but the water. Odysseus is still on the water and not home yet.

Pound also changes “Men many, mauled with bronze lance heads” to “Many men mauled with bronze lance heads,” which makes it more natural and modern.

Some definitions

ell-square pitkin: it sounds Old English, but are words made up by the poet: it’s nonsense that wants to mean (I think): “I dug a little pit, a little hole.” Digging up some dirt perhaps to either bury or cover the dead with the dirt.
fosse: ditch, a moat
dreory: sounds like dreary but it means “blood dripping”
ingle: a hearth, a comforting fire in a room, (vagina?)
Venerandnam: worthy of reverence, veneration
Cypri munimenta sortita est: “The walls of Cyprus are meant for her.”

Pound believed that Homer began the epic tradition. Translators of Homer are mentioned in the poem: In officina wecheli: at the printer of Divus, a translator of Homer. There is the mention of Elpenor as well, Odysseus’ youngest companion, a young man who falls down drunk and breaks his neck, unlucky and of no consequence, remembered only in a mention by Homer and then Pound: “A man of no fortune and with a name to come.”

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