Robert Hass
Ezra Pound's Proposition

Beauty is sexuality, and sexuality

is the fertility of the earth and the fertility

Of the earth is economics. Though he is no recommendation

For poets on the subject of finance,

I thought of him in the thick heat

Of the Bangkok night. Not more than fourteen, she saunters up to you

Outside the Shangri-la Hotel

And says, in plausible English,

"How about a party, big guy?"

  

Here is more or less how it works:

The World Bank arranges the credit and the dam

Floods three hundred villages, and the villagers find their way

To the city where their daughters melt into the teeming streets,

And the dam’s great turbine, beautifully tooled

In Lund or Dresden or Detriot, financed

by Lazard Freres in Paris or the Morgan Bank in New York,

enabled by judicious gifts from Bechtel of San Fransisco

or Halliburton in Houston to the local political elite,

Spun by the force of rushing water,

Have become hives of shimmering silver

And, down river, they throw that bluish throb of light

Across her cheekbones and her lovely skin.

 
Found In Volume 36, No. 05
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Robert Hass
About the Author

Robert Hass served as poet laureate of the United States from 1995 to 1997; he is currently a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.  The poems in this issue all appear in his forthcoming book, Time and Materials, Poems 1997—2005 (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2007).