Study Guide

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley Epigraph

By Ezra Pound


"Vocat aestus in umbram"
--Nemesianus, Ec. IV.

E.P. Ode pour l'Election de Son Sepulchre

  • So here we go. Pound starts off Part One of "Mauberley" by giving us an inscription and some sort of section header. The inscription is quoted in Latin from the "Fourth Ecologue" of Nemesianus, a third-century Latin poet, and it translates as "The heat calls us into the shade." 
  • We tend to think of ourselves as "feeling the heat" when we're under pressure or stressing about something; so whatever heat Pound's talking about here is something he's probably going to elaborate on as the poem continues. But for now, we know that there's basically something bugging him that has provoked him to write this poem. 
  • Now for that section header. The thing is written in French and translates as "Ode on the choice of his tomb." Now the idea of someone choosing a tomb to die in is a little more pessimistic than Pound's inscription. But then again, we could interpret this as a dark way of thinking about going "into the shade." The poem could even be a suicide note of sorts, a last farewell from a guy who's had enough of the world (for some reason that hasn't been explained to us yet). In any case, we'll just have to keep reading to see why the speaker of the poem (Huey Mauberley) would be so upset that he wants to pick out a tomb at Tombs R' Us. Or better yet, maybe iTombs? 
  • Oh yeah, and those initials? E.P. Yeah, they stand for Ezra Pound. So from this point on, we're just going to go ahead and talk about Pound and Mauberley interchangeably. Pound makes it pretty clear that Mauberley is just a fictional version of himself that he uses for making his points about the modern world. How so? Read on…