Study Guide

Canto II Stanza 4

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Stanza 4

Lines 130-142

And So-shu churned in the sea, So-shu also,
using the long moon for a churn-stick...
Lithe turning of water,
sinews of Poseidon,
Black azure and hyaline,
glass wave over Tyro,
Close cover, unstillness,
bright welter of wave-cords,
Then quiet water,
quiet in the buff sands,
Sea-fowl stretching wing-joints,
splashing in rock-hollows and sand-hollows
In the wave-runs by the half-dune;

  • Now we're back to the scene of Tyro being raped by the sea god Poseidon.
  • The sea is in churning again, this time being pulled by the gravity of the moon (which influences the tides).
    To all outward appearances, though, things are looking… pretty, beautiful even. The water is graceful ("Lithe") and glassy ("hyaline").
  • Under this beauty, though, don't forget that violence is still taking place in the "unstillness" and "bright welter" (turbulence) of the waves.
  • Then it's all over. The water stops churning, but the birds don't seem to notice any change. They go on doing their bird exercises on the beach.
  • So what's the point of recycling this story? Pound's main message seems to be that there aren't many great options for beautiful women when it comes to dealing with the sexual interest of men. The options seem to be either rape or getting turned into a tree—not great, either way. But it's not the women's fault. For Pound, the problem is that men have lost respect for true beauty. If they were able to see what true beauty actually was, they would never try to rape a woman. They would act respectfully toward her.
  • Now there are huge problems with this idea of treating beautiful women like beautiful paintings. But this is about as progressive as Pound will ever get in his poetry.

Lines 143-146

Glass-glint of wave in the tide-rips against sunlight,
          pallor of Hesperus,
Grey peak of the wave, wave, colour of grape's pulp,

  • Now we're back to talking about how the water in the sea is the color of "grape's pulp." That means that Dionysius is still hanging around somewhere in the background of all this. The reference to the paleness or "pallor" of Hesperus is a reference to a star in the night sky also known as the "evening star." So at this point, the speaker of Pound's poem is looking up at the night sky, maybe looking for some sense of direction in life.

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