Hymn to the Dope

Goddess of the murmuring courts,
Nicotine, my Nicotine,
Houri of the mystic sports,
trailing-robed in gabardine,
Gliding where the breath hath glided,
Hidden sylph of filmy veils,
Truth behind the dream is veiléd
E’en as thou art, smiling ever, ever gliding,
Wraith of wraiths, dim lights dividing
Purple, grey, and shadow green
Goddess, Dream-grace, Nicotine.

Goddess of the shadow’s lights,
Nicotine, my Nicotine,
Some would set old Earth to rights,
Thou I none such ween.
Veils of shade our dream dividing,
Houris dancing, intergliding,
Wraith of wraiths and dream of faces,
Silent guardian of the old unhallowed places,
Utter symbol of all old sweet druidings,
Mem’ry of witched wold and green,
Nicotine, my Nicotine:

Neath the shadows of thy weaving
Dreams that need no undeceiving,
Loves that longer hold me not,
Dreams I dream not any more,
Fragrance of old sweet forgotten places,
Smiles of dream-lit, flit-by faces
All as perfume Arab-sweet
Deck the high road to thy feet

As were Godiva’s coming fated
And all the April’s blush belated
Were lain before her, carpeting
The stones of Coventry with spring,
So thou my mist-enwreathéd queen,
Nicotine, white Nicotine,
Riding engloried in they hair
Mak’st by-road of our dreams
Thy thorough-fare.

Analysis, meaning and summary of Ezra Pound's poem Nicotine


  1. Madeul says:

    Never would I claim that Pound is “warning” us about the nature of addiction, for to do so would be to belittle the solemn undertaking of the realization of the aesthetic moment, the Bacchic celebration, or to emasculate the existent beauty with the feeble school-borne moral agenda that a work of art must mean something, something constructive and worthwhile.

  2. Ashley says:

    First, before anything else is stated, it ought be mentioned that Ezra Pound is a brillant writer who, I fear, will not be matched again.

    I don’t think either one of you are fully correct in your interpretation and analysis. I think that you have probably both been basically educated in the study of poetry, have probably been told simple thinking processes behind analysis which do not sufficently do justice to the works in question, and have probably never expanded your thinking beyond what you have ben exposed to/ what you have been taught to think. I think that the two latter comments bring up decent points, but render each of you unbalanced in your readings. One must always bring their own subjectivity and experiences to the poem, while simultaneously looking beyond those experiences into the reality of the object[of observation; poem, art, etc.] to what it is subjectivally and introspectively. Additionally in interperating Pound, one must also take his pieces in relation to his agenda as an imagist, not forgetting that he founded the imagist movement and that his images are invaluable in analysis of meaning and purpose.

    I like the comment about his fondness for smoking. He clearly did have an affinity for it, a connection with it, and we can safely assume he did because we writers write about what we know. It’s a very true observation, and the most valid of all three. This brings me to the crux of the poem; Pound is revealing his experiences and the world’s experiences in smoking to reveal more deeply that this addiction is a belief system. He claims Nicotine as a goddess, as a protection (a gaurdian), as a revealation- a truth if you will, as our origin (our conciousness- memory), as a love- a women (houri, sylph, queen), as a heavenly liberation and all points directly to the foundations of most belief systems in our world, and most specifically points to a Muslim-esque faith or a faith which consumes. He most clearly points to the idea of addiction, building to the all consuming and encompassing effects of a drug, rendering all other things useless and pointless.
    Here we have seen how deeply down it goes. It relates to experience in that we are all so addicted to anything and that relates back to the idea of belief and to the fact that Pound was probably commenting on the fact that we all are so consumed to the point that any virtue becomes vice and that any vice is therefore equivicated with virtue, so that what you believe is not what matters, and that what instead matters is that you believe in such a way that you will survive and not be utterly destroyed by belief.
    At the end one also gets the feeling of utter distortion of all things resulting of this deep consumtion and belief. Ultimately Pound is pointing us toward this realization of the truth in our hearts and therefore experiences. He is telling us to be aware of the things we trust most- ourselves.

  3. John says:

    wow whoever posted comment two, “serina”, is obviously an overly articulate and pompous reader, who instead of enjoying this poem and interpreting for themselves, feels that it is his/her job to degrade the opinions of others. nice going, but you didn’t write it. it can mean whatever the reader wants it to mean.

  4. Danielle says:

    Nicotine white-trailed Godiva
    wishes me to meet
    my timer
    ..now with new-aged camel packs
    lovely cancer takes me back
    Romantic morbid swooning mould
    takes on me with Ezra Pound

  5. Serina says:

    Yes, he might have liked to smoke, but that is not all the poem is about. It is about the beauty that the “sweet nicotine” holds for him inhis heart and soul. It would not matter is he liked to smoke anyways, it comes from his soul, not from his lungs.

  6. kelsey says:

    think he liked to smoke?

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