“from Greece into Egypt”: Translation and the Engendering of H. D.’s Poetry

  • Steven G. Yao


In the “Translator’s Postscript” to his 1922 rendering of Rémy de Gourmont’s treatise on sex, the Physique de l’Amour, Ezra Pound offers one of his most infamous speculations about the evolution of human creativity:

It is more than likely that the brain is, in origin and development, only a sort of great clot of genital fluid. … This hypothesis. . . would explain the enormous content of the brain as maker or presenter of images. … I offer an idea rather than an argument, yet if we consider that the power of the spermatozoide is precisely that of exteriorizing a form, and if we consider the lack of any known substance in nature capable of growing into brain, we are left with only one surprise, or rather one conclusion, namely, in the face of the smallness of the average brain’s activity, we must conclude that the spermatozoic substance must have greatly atrophied in its change from the lactic to coagulated and hereditarily coagulated conditions… There are traces of [this idea] in the symbolism of phallic religions, man really the phallus or spermatozoide charging, head-on, the female chaos. Integrations of the male in the male organ. Even oneself has felt it, driving any new idea into the great passive vulva of London, a sensation analogous to the male feeling in copulation.


Literary Production Literary Tradition Bryn Mawr Greek Text Literary Mode 
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© Steven G. Yao 2002

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  • Steven G. Yao

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