From Publishers Weekly
For decades, readers have patched together the portions of Pound's oeuvre that interested them via the myriad New Directions editions, some of which are now out of print. Sieburth, best known as critic and superb translator of German and French poetry, has done a fantastic job of finding and logically arranging nearly everything that Pound wrote that could be called a poem or translation, including the juvenilia of "Hilda's Book" (written for fellow University of Pennsylvania student Hilda Doolittle, later H.D.) and the late, moving elegy, first published in 1971, that he wrote for the brother of one of his St. Elizabeth's acolytes. Pound as an anti-Semite, as a supporter of Mussolini and as a treasonous or insane U.S. citizen, are present in the rich chronology and footnotes that Sieburth provides (there is no introduction), but little of this social context makes itself known in the poems themselves, which center on precise, stress-timed meters; the near absence of personal revelation of any kind; and a Puritan impatience with "Symbolist" ambiguities. That Pound famously considered his life-work, the 800-page Cantos, a "botch," makes the verve, optimism and confidence evident in such an undertaking seem like an Icarian flight. Add to the Cantos reversionings of Guido Cavalcanti and Arnaut Daniel; the robust, still fresh "Cathay" sequence; the metrical displays of "Tenzone," "Dance Figure" and "Hugh Selwyn Mauberley"; the innovative "Homage to Sextius Propertius"; and passionate translations of Sophocles and Confucius's Classic Anthology, and one can't help but think that the appearance of this volume will give readers of American poetry a sense of renewed energy in sorting through the horrific details of a long, ideologically wounded century and (in the eclectic translations) the myriad luminous details of millennia of European and Asian literature.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.
About the Author
Richard Sieburth, editor, is professor of French and Comparative Literature at New York University, author of Instigations: Ezra Pound and Remy de Gourmont
, and editor of Pound's Walking Tour in Southern France
and Pisan Cantos