In any case the identification of a benevolent Emperor with dawn’s light is as significant as it is traditional, and shifts the argument into an altogether new direction. The stanza which follows both extends and comments on the preceding scenes and constitutes the longest passage of Pound’s intervention in a web of intertextuality which otherwise informs the canto.

State by creating riches shd. thereby get into debt? 
This is infamy; this is Geryon.
This canal goes still to TenShi
Though the old king built it for pleasure

Bad government is characterized by the state getting into debt in the very act of creating wealth. Usury and Geryon [Fraud, Usury’s twin | 8 | ], precipitate that infamy and contrast significantly with the beneficial creativity of a just Emperor whose private and public goals are harmonised. "The old king" has been identified as Yang Ti of Sui (605-618), but the source of Pound’s reference is not yet known. TenShi is not a place name as Terrell suggests in the Companion, but a compound of two separate Japanese words meaning, Son of Heaven. The emperor is, after all, a manifestation of that spiritual power which, unless subverted, enriches both the economic and social life of the nation as well as its destiny.

8 | See Dante Alighieri, Inferno, XVII.

The abrupt shift at this point to an untranslated Chinese quatrain rendered in Roman script, but as pronounced in Japanese – and here read from left to right – is altogether disconcerting and purposefully so. The text was taken from one of two versions transcribed by Ernest Fenollosa and preserved among the notebooks which his widow had given to Pound for editing and publication in 1913. Although Fenollosa gave English equivalents and sometimes even glosses for each ideogram, he never attempted a free translation although his note of Professor Mori’s explication survives:

The moral of the poem is that ministers working in harmony, as the sun & moon, will enable the state to preserve its glory forever. Sun and moon refer to officials. Clouds represent the world-society in general. Succession of sun & moon may refer to imperial succession at this juncture. | 9 |

9 | Hugh Kenner, "More on the Seven Lakes Canto", Paideuma, 2, 1 (Spring 1973), p. 46.

Many years later Pound, himself, attempted re-Englishing the poem (1958), while Kodama’s scholarly and sensitive version, is given in the appendix below. | 10 | Earlier, however, Achilles Fang had already recognised the source and on 31 May 1950 included the following postscript in a letter to James Laughlin:

I am sending you a photostatic copy of Auspicious Clouds song. Here’s why: From Robert Payne’s article in World Review (1949) I gather that Mr Pound is given to declaiming Chinese odes. I wonder if he would like to sing the national anthem of China under the first republic, if only to break the intolerable monotony of St Elizabeth’s [sic.]. The text of the anthem is the Auspicious Clouds song (k’ing yun ko) of the Emperor Shun:

K’ing (auspicious)      Yun (clouds)      lan (bright)                hi
kiu (gathered)             man (in mass)     man (in mass)          hi
jih (sun)                        yueh (moon)      kuang (luminous)      hua
tan (dawn)                  fu (again)           tan (dawn)                  hi

(in James Legge’s free version: Splendid are the clouds and bright,/ All aglow with various light!/ Grand the sun and moon move on;/ Daily dawn succeeds to dawn). This song is as much Mr Pound’s as any-body else’s, for he has incorporated it into Canto 49. The outlandish quatrain there is Japanese transcription (from Fenollosa Mss.?) of this song. (Unfortunately misprinted: MEN should read either WUN or UN and Kai should have been printed KEI.)
| 11 |

10 | Sinehide Kodama, "The Eight Scenes of Shoi-Sho", Paideuma, 6, 2 (Fall 1977), p. 142.

11 | Unpublished letter, James Laughlin.

A comparison of Fang’s precise translation and Legge’s Victorian effusion, not to mention Kodama’s stylistic synthesis as quoted in the Appendix, reveals a good deal about the nature of Chinese verse and that of its language. Tradition has it that those verses were originally intended as a ritual celebration of just governance under an ideal king on the occasion of the legendary Emperor’s abdication. The thematic rhyme with the benevolence of K’ang hsi and Yang Ti is obvious once the references are unravelled, yet the quatrain, as it appears on the page, delivers up only the sound of Japanese pronunciation of unintelligible verses. The problem is perhaps better taken up later, along with Pound’s metric and the influence of Futurist ideas.

The last of the Chinese poems incorporated into Canto XLIX, was also taken from the Fenollosa notebooks, and the rough translation re-ordered there is given between the lines of Pound’s final text in the Appendix. Whereas the Auspicious Clouds song celebrates the ideal of Confucian harmony dominated by a benevolent Emperor and just ministers, the Clod-Beating (Beater’s) song concerns the working man’s struggle to survive, a quotidian world of toil and meagre reward. Autumnal mists and clouds of snow, sun and moon reflected on water, give way to a physical and regenerative vision of human existence. The sun is central to both quatrains, and the spiritual dimension of the Emperor’s world, is, however, sharply contrasted with the physicality of the peasant’s. Interestingly enough, the only substantive (rather than metrical) innovation in the Clod Beating song is the substitution of "us" for "me" and the inclusion of an absolute question along with one which is eminently relative. "Imperial power is? and to us what is it" – to the people? The shift from a singular to the plural reflexive pronoun makes a lot of difference, both tonally and thematically. It refuses the definite personal in favour of the abstract communal. There is, perhaps, also an echo of the line, "by no man these verses", an obfuscation of personal identity Despite the revision, the implication of the question remains the same; in an ideal, Confucian state the people should remain unaware of being governed.

* * * * *


The formal statement of subject at the beginning of the canto omits reference to river and mountain scenery among the eight pictures and poems which constitute Pound’s source. Seven, however, is a magical number – ‘the seven seas’ comes readily to mind. It is likely, however, that the substitution has a purely metrical function which is more important to the poet than literal accuracy. "For the eight lakes" obviously won’t do as the assonance is both clumsy and cramped. Angela Jung Palandri also assures us that of the many lakes in the Hsiao-Hsiang, river district, seven are best known. | 12 | The second phrase is more suggestive, however, and most of the poems woven into the final text are, indeed, anonymous. ‘No Man’, is, after all, the name Odysseus uses to hide his identity from Polyphemus. | 13 | Pound’s own periplum through life, as outlined in The Cantos, consciously echoes that of Odysseus. Canto XLIX re-casts that trajectory into a Confucian idyll of harmonious polity, intermediated by a just emperor who is associated with dawn’s light. The dominant motif of Miss Tseng’s translations was "Place for soul to travel" which Pound supresses. The sequence of those poems begins with the poet-hero’s voyage and ends with the question, "Imperial power is? and to us what is it?". The answer, given in the poet’s own voice, implies transcendence on one level or another – "The fourth; the dimension of stillness. / And the power over wild beasts."

12 | See angela Jung Polandri, "The Seven Lakes Canto Revisited", Paideuma, 3, 1 (Spring 1974), p. 54.

13 | See Odyssey, IX: 336.