La Nekuia ou Nekyia (du grec ancien Νέκυια, de νέκυς / nékus, « le mort, le cadavre ») est le titre donné au chant XI de l’Odyssée1. Il s’agit d’un rituel sacrificiel ayant pour but d’invoquer les morts, en particulier le devin Tirésias dans le cas de l’Odyssée. En effet, Ulysse, cherchant désespérément à rentrer à Ithaque, reçoit de Circé le conseil d’aller consulter le devin thébain à propos de l’avenir de son périple (fin du chant X). Tirésias étant mort, Circé révèle à Ulysse les secrets d’un rituel qui lui permettra de communiquer avec lui malgré tout. Il ne faut pas confondre la Nekuia avec une catabase, qui désigne la descente aux Enfers de dieux et de héros tels qu’Hermès, Perséphone, Dionysos, Héraclès, Orphée et d’autres2. En effet, Ulysse ne descend pas aux Enfers, ce sont les morts qui, invoqués par le rituel, viennent à lui depuis l’Au-delà.

Now, don’t, sir! Don’t expose me! Just this once!
This was the first and only time, I’ll swear,—
Look at me,—see, I kneel,—the only time,
I swear, I ever cheated,—yes, by the soul
Of Her who hears—(your sainted mother, sir!)
All, except this last accident, was truth—
This little kind of slip!—and even this,
It was your own wine, sir, the good champagne,
(I took it for Catawba—you’re so kind)
Which put the folly in my head!

Dramatis Personae (1864)
At a dinner party on 7 April 1889, at the home of Browning’s friend the artist Rudolf Lehmann, an Edison cylinder phonograph recording was made on a white wax cylinder by Edison‘s British representative, George Gouraud. In the recording, which still exists, Browning recites part of How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix (and can be heard apologising when he forgets the words).[24] When the recording was played in 1890 on the anniversary of his death, at a gathering of his admirers, it was said to be the first time anyone’s voice “had been heard from beyond the grave.”
Kreilkamp, Ivan, “Voice and the Victorian storyteller.” Cambridge University Press, 2005, page 190. ISBN 0-521-85193-9ISBN 978-0-521-85193-0. Retrieved 2 May 2009

Using the metre and syntax of his 1911 version of the Anglo-Saxon poem The Seafarer, Pound made an English version of Divus’ rendering of the nekuia episode in which Odysseus and his companions sail to Hades in order to find out what their future holds. In using this passage to open the poem, Pound introduces a major theme: the excavating of the “dead” past to illuminate the present and future. He also echoes Dante‘s opening to The Divine Comedy in which the poet also descends into hell to interrogate the dead. The canto concludes with some fragments from the Second Homeric Hymn to Aphrodite, in a Latin version by Georgius Dartona which Pound found in the Divus volume, followed by “So that:”—an invitation to read on.

Ezra Pound’s Radio Operas : The BBC Experiments, 1931-1933

Radio Corpse: Imagism and the Cryptaesthetic of Ezra Pound

The Cantos of Ezra Pound (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1993)


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