Pound's lifetime of carving resulted in a masterwork of 116 stanzas that spanned the four decades of his mature and declining years. In "Canto I," from The Cantos, he imitates the style and diction of Homer, whose Odyssey follows the fate-hounded Greek sailor all over the Mediterranean. Capturing the music of keel over waves and wind on sail, Pound envisions a "swart ship," the boat that the Circe helped Odysseus build to make his final leg of the journey home. It is painted black, Greek fashion; the color prefigures description of that dark nether world that Odysseus must traverse and the murky rites he must perform to acquire the prophet Tiresias' direction. To stress the grimness of the underworld, the poet relies on a heavy sibilance of repeated sounds in "sterile bulls," "best for sacrifice," and the double alliteration of "flowed in the fosse." In lush phrases, Pound enacts the scene at the trench, where Odysseus must feed the thronging
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