Fifine Answers, from Ezra Pound’s A Lume Spento
“Why is it that, disgraced they seem to relish life
the more?”—FIFINE AT THE FAIR, VII, 5.
Sharing his exile that hath borne the flame,
Joining his freedom that hath drunk the shame
And known the torture of the Skull-place hours
Free and so bound, that mingled with the powers
Of air and sea and light his soul’s far reach
Yet strictured did the body-lips beseech
“To drink” “I thirst.” And then the sponge of gall.
Wherefore we wastrels that the grey road’s call
Doth master and make slaves and yet make free,
Drink all of life and quaffing lustily
Take bitter with the sweet without complain
And sharers in his drink defy the pain
That makes you fearful to unfurl your souls.
We claim no glory. If the tempest rolls
About us we have fear, and then
Having so small a stake grow bold again.
We know not definitely even this
But ’cause some vague half knowing half doth miss
Our consciousness and leaves us feeling
That somehow all is well, that sober, reeling
From the last carouse, or in what measure
Of so called right or so damned wrong our leisure
Runs out uncounted sand beneath the sun,
That, spite your carping, still the thing is done
With some deep sanction, that, we know not how,
Sans thought gives us this feeling; you allow
That this not need we know our every thought
Or see the work shop where each mask is wrought
Wherefrom we view the world of box and pit,
Careless of wear, just so the mask shall fit
And serve our jape’s turn for a night or two.
Call! eh bye! the little door at twelve!
I meet you there myself