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Moeurs Contemporaines

Ezra Pound 1885 (Hailey) – 1972 (Venice)


Mr. Styrax 1
Mr. Hecatomb Styrax, the owner of a large estate and of large muscles,
A 'blue' and a climber of mountains, has married at the age of 28,
He being at that age a virgin,
The term Virgo' being made male in mediaeval latinity;
His ineptitudes
Have driven his wife from one religious excess to another.
She has abandoned the vicar
For he was lacking in vehemence;
She is now the high-priestess
Of a modern and ethical cult,
And even now Mr. Styrax
Does not believe in asthetics.

His brother has taken to gipsies,
But the son-in-law of Mr. H. Styrax
Objects to perfumed cigarettes.
In the parlance of Niccolo Machiavelli:
‘Thus things proceed in their circle';
And thus the empire is maintained.


At sixteen she was a potential celebrity
With a distaste for caresses.
She now writes to me from a convent;
Her life is obscure and troubled;
Her second husband will not divorce her;
Her mind is, as ever, uncultivated,
And no issue presents itself.
She does not desire her children,
Or any more children.
Her ambition is vague and indefinite,
She will neither stay in, nor come out.


Upon learning that the mother wrote verses,
And that the father wrote verses,
And that the youngest son was in a publisher's office,
And that the friend of the second daughter was undergoing a novel,
The young American pilgrim
'This is a darn'd clever bunch!'

Sketch 48 b. 11

At the age of 27
Its home mail is still opened by its maternal parent
And its office mail may be opened by
its parent of the opposite gender.
It is an officer,
and a gentleman,
and an architect.

'Nodier raconte . . .'

A.t a friend of my wife's there is a photograph,
A faded, pale brownish photograph,
Of the times when the sleeves were large,
Silk, stiff and large above the lacertus,
That is, the upper arm,
And décolleté'. . . .
It is a lady,
She sits at a harp,

And by her left foot, in a basket,
Is an infant, aged about 14 months,
The infant beams at the parent,
The parent re-beams at its offspring.
The basket is lined with satin,
There is a satin-like bow on the harp.

And in the home of the novelist
There is a satin-like bow on an harp.
You enter and pass hall after hall,
Conservatory follows conservatory,
Lilies lift their white symbolical cups,
Whence their symbolical pollen has been excerpted,
Near them I noticed an harp
And the blue satin ribbon,
And the copy of 4Hatha Yoga'
And the neat piles of unopened, unopening books,

And she spoke to me of the monarch,
And of the purity of her soul.


After years of continence
he hurled himself into a sea of six women.
Now, quenched as the brand of Meleagar,
he lies by the poluphloisboious sea-coast.


I Vecchii

They will come no more,
The old men with beautiful manners.

II était comme un tout petit garçon
With his blouse full of apples
And sticking out all the way round;
Blagueur! 'Con gli occhi onesti e tardi,'

And he said:
‘0h! Abelard!' as if the topic
Were much too abstruse for his comprehension,
And he talked about 'the Great Mary',
And said: ‘Mr. Pound is shocked at my levity.'
When it turned out he meant Mrs. Ward.

And the other was rather like my bust by Gaudier,
Or like a real Texas colonel,
He said: 'Why flay dead horses?
'There was once a man called Voltaire.'

And he said they used to cheer Verdi,
In Rome, after the opera,
And the guards couldn't stop them,

And that was an anagram for Vittorio
Emanuele Re D' Italia,
And the guards couldn't stop them.

Old men with beautiful manners,
Sitting in the Row of a morning;
Walking on the Chelsea Embankment.


And she said:
' You remember Mr. Lowell,
'He was your ambassador here?'
And I said: 'That was before I arrived.'
And she said:
'He stomped into my bedroom.…
(By that time she had got on to Browning.)
'. . . stomped into my bedroom. . . .
'And said: 'Do I,
' 'I ask you, Do I
' 'Care too much for society dinners?'
'And I wouldn't say that he didn't.
'Shelley used to live in this house.'

She was a very old lady,
I never saw her again.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

3:44 min read

Ezra Pound

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet and critic of the early modernist movement. more…

All Ezra Pound poems | Ezra Pound Books

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    "Moeurs Contemporaines" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2021. Web. 23 Jan. 2021. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/13298/moeurs-contemporaines>.

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