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Canto II

Canto II

by Ezra Loomis Pound

Women and Femininity Quotes

How we cite our quotes:

Quote #1

"Let her go back to the ships,
Back among Grecian faces, lest evil come on our own," (14-15)

As they see Helen coming into their city, the elders of Troy know that Helen's husband Menelaus is going to start a war to try and get her back. They're upset at this and wish that Helen could just go back to her own people. They don't want any trouble, and they resent their prince Paris for getting them into such hot water over a beautiful woman.

Quote #2

"Moves, yes she moves like a goddess/ And has the face of a god […]
And doom goes with her in walking," (17-20)

Sure, the elders of Troy are totally willing to admit that Helen is as beautiful as a goddess. But they still know that "doom goes with her in walking," because tons and tons of people are going to die because of her beauty. The whole reason the Trojan War is about to be fought is because two men are captivated by Helen's beauty, but only one can have her to himself.

Quote #3

And by the beach-run, Tyro,
Twisted arms of the sea-god,
Lithe sinews of water, gripping her, cross-hold, (23-25)

Just in case you were starting to think that Helen's beauty made her powerful, Pound shows you the another side of feminine beauty. In this passage, he talks about how the sea god Poseidon found himself attracted to a nymph named Tyro, so he disguised himself as a river and raped her. It's not clear if Pound is trying to say this is a bad thing, or the natural outcome of male desire. Nonetheless, it's one of the more violent images of "Canto II," and it seems to be in keeping with Pound's general idea that beauty tends to inspire violence in men, whether it's in the form of war or sexual assault.

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