Before Ezra Pound wrote his “The Seafarer,” a poem with the same name was written, serving as one of the four surviving manuscripts of Old. The Seafarer Poem has 7 ratings and 2 reviews. Carl said: I love Anglo-Saxon elegies, and the Seafarer is an excellent example of the genre. I love the c. Dive deep into Ezra Pound’s The Seafarer with extended analysis, commentary, and discussion.

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The Seafarer is an Old English poem of lines, of which the only text is preserved in the Exeter Book, a tenth-century codex and the oldest of the four major collections of Anglo-Saxon poetry Gordon 1. The poem is an elegaic lament of a lonely life spent upon the sea, far from the company of other men and the joys of human seadarer. The life of the seafarer is one of utter isolation and perpetual hardship in inhospitably cold sewfarer wretched conditions.

Thoughts of another life, of life on land, can erza summoned only with great difficulty; the very heart and thoughts of the poet are imagined to travel abroad, escaping the body which is left at sea: This creates a bitter yearning, which however is quickly transformed into a sober realization of the ephemeral, trivial nature of earthly life in comparison to the eternal bliss of the afterlife, the hope of which provides a foil seafarwr the hardships of the sea, which now retrospectively take on an allegorical character.

The poem at this point becomes a kind of memento moria warning to the vain and the avaricious that what they value will mean nothing after their deaths. The poem ends with a long seafrer of about two dozen lines on the might and glory of God. Ezra Pound translated this poem inin his mid-twenties. Pound was a prolific translator, and his ezfa is quite astonishing: At least fifteen different languages appear in his Cantoswhich is relentlessly intertextual and multilingual Xie His aim was always fidelity to the original in both meaning and atmosphere.

As he wrote in Pound is interested in the poetic possibilities that exist between languages, and which arise from their articulation.

In these respects Pound is a quintessentially Benjaminian translator.


Benjamin, like Pound, is clearly interested in a project much more profound and transformative than a merely utilitarian rendering of sense. A striking analogy illustrates his ideas more fully:. Fragments of a vessel which are to be glued together must match one another in the smallest details, although they need not be like one another.

The Seafarer (poem) – Wikipedia

For this very reason translation must in large measure refrain from wanting seagarer communicate something, from rendering the sense, and in this the original is important to it only insofar as it has already relieved the translator and his translation of the effort of assembling and expressing what is to be conveyed.

However, the term goes back at least as far as Chaucer, though its contemporary meanings do not arise until the 17th century OED s. The object of this exercise in poetic license, if it is not simply a mistake — the end result is the same either way — is to creative an alliterative half-line: The former seems so, however, because it has a certain uncanny, archaic quality to it.

It makes perfect sense as a word, but as an angular, Germanic, compound construction, is resolutely alien. It reminds one of the kind of complex compound terms Gerard Manley Hopkins would concoct to avoid the Latinate language that was seagarer to him.

The alliterative structure of Old English poetry is one of its principal charms, and the cornerstone of Anglo-Saxon poetics. There are five alliterative patterns, all of which depend upon a division of each single line into two half-lines, separated by a long space in modern editions.

The original manuscripts, however, respect no such line or half-line divisions. Pound, even more than most poets, had a keen ear for the sonic dimension of poetry.

He was an accomplished musician, having written, to cite the major examples, two operas — Le Testament de Francois Villon and Cavalcanti — and a series of compositions for violin Ingham ff. His poetic project was largely to abolish the stilted, classic English line and replace it with a more variegated tradition of vers libre.

The former occurs beyond the intellect and to an extent beyond language proper, and cannot be reproduced by purely literal translation: His intention was simply to recover what he perceived to be the real, original Anglo-Saxon poem and he believed that his version was as close as any translation can be.


The theological aspect of the poem clearly struck him as a superfluous appendage, a muddying bit of rhetoric that pounnd only weaken its visceral rhythmic force. But the apotheosis of the signifier, of cadence over rhetoric, may have led Pound to misread the poem, whose basic meaning could be described seafater terms of its dialectical opposition of earthly melancholy and divine ssafarer.

Clarity, boldness, and unity are central values for Pound, and these values unite the otherwise seemingly disparate literary traditions that appealed to him: This is partly why Pound excises the comparison of heaven and earth that is at the heart of the original poem, even with the final section removed.

The Seafarer Poem by Ezra Pound

Pound, however, opts for the secular connotation in each instance. The bleakness here has no heavenly foil; it is total and irredeemable.

To arrive at this took a great deal of license. The first half-line is totally different in sense, but when we recite it, we notice that it contains the same number of syllables arranged in more seavarer less the same rhythmic pattern. Cambridge University Press, Posted in literature 2 Comments. Enjoyable piece and informative. You are commenting using your WordPress. You are commenting using seafwrer Twitter account. Pouhd are commenting using your Facebook account.

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The Seafarer Poem

A striking analogy illustrates his ideas more fully: In Old English, they are: A standard translation would read something like: The ABC of Reading. Ezra Pound as Critic. Leave a Reply Cancel reply Enter your comment here Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Email required Address never made public.

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