Ezra Pound's Proposition.
Beauty is sexual, and sexuality Is the fertility of the earth and
the fertility Of the earth is economics. Though he is no recommendation
For poets on the subject of finance, I thought of him in the thick heat
Of the Bangkok night. Not more than fourteen, she saunters up to you
Outside the Shangri-la Hotel And says, in plausible English, 'How
about a party, big guy?"
Here is more or less how it works: The World Bank arranges the credit
and the dam Floods three hundred villages, and the villagers find their
way To the city where their daughters melt into the teeming streets, And
the dam's great turbines, beautifully tooled in Lurid or Dresden or
Detroit, financed by Lazard Freres in Paris or the Morgan Bank in New
York, enabled by judicious gifts from Bechtel of San Francisco or
Halliburton of Houston to the local political elite, Spun by the force
of rushing water, Have become hives of shimmering silver And, down
river, they throw that bluish throb of light Across her cheekbones and
her lovely skin.
ROBERT HASS served as poet laureate of the United States from
1995 to 1997; he is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American
Poets. The poems in this issue all appear in his forthcoming book, Time
and Materials, Poems 1997-2005 (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007).