Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
by Ezra Pound
Analysis: Calling Card
Allusions, allusions, and just for the fun of it, a dozen more allusions. There are times when Pound makes "The Waste Land" look like a walk in the park when it comes to classic art trivia. Worse yet, it's pretty hard to even figure out why Pound is referencing what he does half the time.
For example, it can take a really long time to figure out what he's getting at in lines 244 to 247 when he writes, "Turned from the 'eau-forte/ Par Jacquemart'/ To the strait head/ Of Messalina." Here, he's mashing together a reference to an obscure drawing by an obscure French artist (J.F. Jacquemart) to Messalina, who was wife to a Roman emperor 2000 years ago. When you finally put it all together, you realize that Pound is talking about a modern-day Mauberley turning from more recent art to the art of classic Greece in search of beauty. But even after you understand his references, it's not easy to come up with this meaning.