Ezra Loomis Pound (1885-1972)
Portrait d'une Femme
1Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea,
2 London has swept about you this score years
3And bright ships left you this or that in fee:
4 Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things,
5Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price.
6 Great minds have sought you -- lacking someone else.
7You have been second always. Tragical?
8 No. You preferred it to the usual thing:
9One dull man, dulling and uxorious,
10 One average mind -- with one thought less, each year.
11Oh, you are patient, I have seen you sit
12 Hours, where something might have floated up.
13And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay.
14 You are a person of some interest, one comes to you
15And takes strange gain away:
16 Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;
17Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,
18 Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else
19That might prove useful and yet never proves,
20 That never fits a corner or shows use,
21Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:
22 The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;
23Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,
24 These are your riches, your great store; and yet
25For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,
26 Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:
27In the slow float of differing light and deep,
28 No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,
29Nothing that's quite your own.
30 Yet this is you.
1] The title is French for "Portrait of a Lady."
Sargasso Sea: area of the North Atlantic ocean clogged with floating seaweed.
4] Ideas: "Ideals" in Umbra (London, June 1920).
6] someone: "something" (other editions)
17] tale for: "tale or" in Personae (New York, Dec. 22, 1926).
18] mandrakes: forked man-shaped plants thought to possess aphrodisiac powers and to increase fertility.
23] ambergris: substance produced by sperm whales that is used in perfumes.
25] deciduous: losing its leaves every fall.
Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department
of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services,
University of Toronto Libraries.
Original text: Ripostes of Ezra Pound (London: Elkin Mathews, 1915): 17-19. P685 R566 1915 Robarts Library.
First publication date:
Publication date note: Ripostes (1912). See Gallup A8
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 1998.
Recent editing: 4:2002/4/15
Form: Blank Verse
Other poems by Ezra Loomis Pound