Let there be commerce between us: A pact -A poem by Ezra Pound


I make a pact with you, Walt Whitman –
I have detested you long enough.
I come to you as a grown child
Who has had a pig-headed father;
I am old enough now to make friends.
It was you that broke the new wood,
Now is a time for carving.
We have one sap and one root –
Let there be commerce between us.

I like this nice little poem of Pound about his friend and fellow-poet Walt Whitman. Two or three metaphors used in the poem are fairly simple, atleast not complex enough to intrigue a new reader. Of course, a child with the pig-headed father refers to Pound himself as he had grown from a young poet to a mature poet. Refer to William Wordsworth’s Child is father of Man, in the all too familiar poem The Rainbow. It only refers to the transformation within Pound himself as he had progressed in his poetic vision. There was of course initial hatred for Whitman’s “wood breaking” free verse from a poet who swore by an almost classical purity ,by his technique of imagism. Now that Pound is wiser by the years he wants to make a pact, an agreement with Whitman which will end the sworn hostilities between them. Note the play on wood, that Whitman broke and Pound wants to join him in the act of carving.

His own poetic technique finely fits in with the exquisite carving that poets can now hope to make of the wood, already broke by Whitman. After all both the poets are of the same sap and the same root.

I am intrigued by the use of the commercial metaphors in projecting a future relationship between the two poets : “pact” is of course a military term denoting cessation of hostilities but is also used to describe a commercial agreement for the joint use of common resources. “let there be commerce between us” is of course a commercial expression ,out and out. It is so exquisitely final.

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