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Sunday, September 30, 2007

Ezra Pound's Proposition

Beauty is sexual, and sexuality
Is the fertility of the earth and the fertility
Of the earth is economics. Though he is no recommendation
For poets on the subject of finance,
I thought of him in the thick heat
Of the Bangkok night. Not more than fourteen, she saunters up to you
Outside the Shangri-la Hotel
And says, in plausible English,
"How about a party, big guy?"

Here is more or less how it works:
The World Bank arranges the credit and the dam
Floods three hundred villages, and the villagers find their way
To the city where their daughters melt into the teeming streets,
And the dam's great turbines, beautifully tooled
In Lund or Dresden or Detroit, financed
By Lazeres Freres in Paris or the Morgan Bank in New York,
Enabled by judicious gifts from Bechtel of San Francisco
Or Halliburton of Houston to the local political elite,
Spun by the force of rushing water,
Have become hives of shimmering silver
And, down river, they throw that bluish throb of light
Across her cheekbones and her lovely skin.

Robert Hass
from Time and Materials

1 comment:

Francisco Aragón said...

It's interesting to see this poem with this title in 2007. I imagine it's the FINAL version that will appear in his new book. I mention this because Robert Hass published a poem with the same title and, more or less, the first three lines....back, oh, in 1983 or so in an issue of the Berkeley Poetry Review. It was much shorter and, to my mind, less interesting than what he has here. I wish I could dig it up as it would be interesting to see how much it has changed in, what, over 20 years! The fact that that first version never made it into any books meant, of course, that he didn't think it was ready to appear in a book yet. The thought of it: working on a poem for over 20 years.