Hugh Selwyn Mauberly [excerpt]
For three years, out of key with his time, He strove to resuscitate the dead art Of poetry; to maintain "the sublime" In the old scene. Wrong from the start-- No, hardly, but seeing he had been born In a half-savage country, out of date; Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn; Capaneus; trout for factitious bait; [idmen gar toi pant, hos eni Troiei] Caught in the unstopped ear; Giving the rocks small lee-way The chopped seas held him, therefore, that year. His true Penelope was Flaubert, He fished by obstinate isles; Observed the elegance of Circe's hair Rather than the mottoes on sun-dials. Unaffected by "the march of events," He passed from men's memory in l'an trentuniesme De son eage; the case presents No adjunct to the Muses' diadem.
The age demanded an image Of its accelerated grimace, Something for the modern stage, Not, at any rate, an Attic grace; Not, not certainly, the obscure reveries Of the inward gaze; Better mendacities Than the classics in paraphrase! The "age demanded" chiefly a mould in plaster, Made with no loss of time, A prose kinema, not, not assuredly, alabaster Or the "sculpture" of rhyme.
These fought in any case, and some believing, pro domo, in any case . . . Some quick to arm, some for adventure, some from fear of weakness, some from fear of censure, some for love of slaughter, in imagination, learning later . . . some in fear, learning love of slaughter; Died some, pro patria, non "dulce" non "et decor" . . . walked eye-deep in hell believing in old men's lies, then unbelieving came home, home to a lie, home to many deceits, home to old lies and new infamy; usury age-old and age-thick and liars in public places. Daring as never before, wastage as never before. Young blood and high blood, fair cheeks, and fine bodies; fortitude as never before frankness as never before, disillusions as never told in the old days, hysterias, trench confessions, laughter out of dead bellies.
There died a myriad, And of the best, among them, For an old bitch gone in the teeth, For a botched civilization, Charm, smiling at the good mouth, Quick eyes gone under earth's lid, For two gross of broken statues, For a few thousand battered books.