Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry: Explained, OF JACOPO DEL SELLAIO, by EZRA POUND



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Classic and Contemporary Poetry: Explained

OF JACOPO DEL SELLAIO, by             Poet Analysis     Poet's Biography


The poem "Of Jacopo del Sellaio" by Ezra Pound delves into the intimacy of artistic creation and the transcendence of human connection, using the medium of painting as a lens through which these themes are explored. The poem is compact, but within its brevity lies a universe of meaning concerning love, loss, and the enduring power of art to communicate emotion.

The opening line, "This man knew out the secret ways of love," immediately brings the reader into the intimate sphere of the artist's emotional landscape. The phrase "secret ways of love" implies a deep, almost mystical understanding of the complexities of human emotion. The second line, "No man could paint such things who did not know," establishes the idea that art-here represented by painting-is an extension of the artist's internal world. It suggests that the emotional depth captured on canvas is a direct result of the artist's personal experiences and innermost feelings.

The transition to the lines "And now she's gone, who was his Cyprian, / And you are here, who are 'The Isles' to me," introduces loss and change, yet also continuity. The woman who was his "Cyprian" is no longer present, likely indicating a muse or a beloved figure who has departed. Yet her absence is met with the arrival of another, who is "The Isles" to the speaker. This could signify a new source of inspiration or love, indicating the cyclical nature of these deeply personal connections.

The concluding lines, "And here's the thing that lasts the whole thing out: / The eyes of this dead lady speak to me," bring the themes of love and art full circle. Despite the transient nature of human relationships, the art endures. Specifically, it's the eyes of the "dead lady" in the painting that communicate something eternal to the speaker. Eyes are often seen as windows to the soul, and in this case, they serve as an enduring link between the artist and the observer, outlasting even death and separation.

In "Of Jacopo del Sellaio," Pound encapsulates the power of art to convey complex emotional states and the ways in which art serves as both an expression and an extension of love. The poem deals with subjects that are immense in their scope-love, loss, the soul-yet handles them with a graceful brevity. It offers a testament to art's capacity for making the impermanent permanent, capturing fleeting human experiences and emotions in a form that survives the very hands that created it. In this way, the poem itself becomes a form of enduring artistry, echoing the very themes it explores.


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