-- Ezra Pound
Resisting the temptation to reformat Pound's quote to suit local conditions, let's take a look at two variants of the same root word.
noun, plural effluvia [ih-floo-vee-uh], effluviums.
1. a slight or invisible exhalation or vapor, especially one that is disagreeable or noxious.
Origin of effluvium
1640-50; < Latin, equivalent to ef- ef- + fluv-, base of fluere to flow (see effluent ) + -ium -ium Related forms: effluvial, adjective
Many a sewage treatment discussion has prompted the word effluent.
1. flowing out or forth.
2. something that flows out or forth; outflow; effluence.
3. a stream flowing out of a lake, reservoir, etc.
4. sewage that has been treated in a septic tank or sewage treatment plant.
5. sewage or other liquid waste that is discharged into a body of water, etc.
Origin of effluent
Latin 1720-30; < Latin effluent- (stem of effluēns flowing out, present participle of effluere), equivalent to ef- ef- + flu- flow + -ent- -ent
So, which word actually works best as Pound's source for the tree of the arts?
Effluvium denotes a noxious odor or discharge, while effluent works better as a synonym for fertilizer. It would seem that odor wouldn't be a sufficient source of (shall we say) enrichment, but my guess is that effluvium simply sounded better to Pound.
The man was a poet, after all ... and poets seldom administer sewage treatment plants.