Pound, Propertius and Logopoeia
Ezra Pound’s “Homage to Propertius” is an unusually free translation of selected poems by the Roman poet Propertius which has generated a fruitful debate about the translator’s task. Among the qualities Pound meant to find in Propertius, and consequently strove to recreate, was logopoeia, “the dance of the intellect among words”. Tantalizing though it sounds, this definition remains somewhat vague, as does Pound’s other references to the concept. The present paper seeks to clarify the meaning of logopoeia, which is done by first revisiting Pound’s own statements and then juxtaposing the opinions of previous scholars. The scholars chosen include classicists as well as scholars on both Pound and Laforgue, the French 19th century poet who was Pound’s initial inspiration for the concept. The conclusion reached is that logopoeia is not to be understood as locally limited wordplay, as some classicists have assumed, but rather as a more general detached attitude towards the language used which often includes an element of irony and humour.