Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Ass Shall Sigh Uninstructed

The Logical Conclusion
by Ezra Pound

When earth's last thesis is copied
From the theses that went before,
When idea from fact has departed
And bare-boned factlets shall bore,
When all joy shall have fled from study
And scholarship reign supreme;
When truth shall "baaa" on the hill crests
And no one shall dare to dream;

When all the good poems have been buried
With comment annoted in full
And art shall bow down in homage
To scholarship's zinc-plated bull,
When there shall be nothing to research
But the notes of annoted notes,
And Baalam's ass shall inquire
The price of imported oats;

Then no one shall tell him the answer
For each shall know the one fact
That lies in the special ass-ignment
From which he is making his tract.
So the ass shall sigh uninstructed
While each in his separate book
Shall grind for the love of grinding
And only the devil shall look.

Against the "germanic" system of graduate study and insane specialization in the Inanities.


  1. SententiaeDeo5:09 PM

    Very good poem! Thanks for sharing
    As I interpret it, Ezra Pound argues that relativism of truth ("…no one shall tell him the answer / For each shall know the one fact") and the hyper-specialization of knowledge (the "insane specialization in the Inanities" with "each in his separate book") degrades men into animals.

  2. branemrys7:34 PM

    Pound isn't very philosophically coherent, but one way to read his works is as an attack on relativisms of various kinds; and certianly the problem he brings up here is one for which metaphysics might be the solution.

  3. SententiaeDeo8:06 PM

     Which other of "his works is as an attack on relativisms of various kinds"?


  4. branemrys8:20 PM

    All of his work was an attempt to express timeless objective values; so practically any of his poems can be read as relevant to the subject, although, as I said, he's not really very coherent philosophically.The Cantos would perhaps be the most fruitful place to look, though.


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