Because of a project I’m working on right now, I looked up Ezra Pound’s “Ballad of the Goodly Fere,” which I had accused him, in December 2016’s post, of employing “the kind of fake folk style that John Mason Neale abused in his carol Good King Wenceslas” in its writing. I still think there’s a fakeness to the poem, in that I find it nearly impossible to read aloud while honoring all of Pound’s elisions and abbreviations — which I should be able to do in a poem from the oral tradition. But it’s such a fine poem. Here — give it a try, aloud:
Ballad of the Goodly Fere
Simon Zelotes speaketh it somewhile after the Crucifixion.[i]
Ha’ we lost the goodliest fere o’ all
For the priests and the gallows tree?
Aye lover he was of brawny men,
O’ ships and the open sea.
When they came wi’ a host to take Our Man
His smile was good to see, Continue Reading →