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The Cantos of Ezra Pound (New Directions Paperbook) Paperback – June 17, 1996
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It is true that Pound wrote some verses in Italian, Greek,... and used chinese ideograms as constructive elements of his "Cantos" (his great masterpiece) and this is not a shortcoming but a necessity. "Poetry" told once T.S.Elliot "can communicate before being understood". This is the case of Pound's poetry. Words and fragments in different languages are used not as superfluous ornaments but in order to articulate a strong feeling and providing pleasure to "the expert". The "non-expert" is attracted also by the surroundings of these elements and the imaginist grounds of each "Canto". It's just poetry! To convince of that I copy here some verses of the Cantos
"nothing matters but the quality
of the affection
in the end"
"Pull down thy vanity.
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail"
"What thou lovest well remains, the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage"
"The ant's a centaur in his dragon world"
"The valley is thick with leaves, with leaves, the trees,
The sunlight glitters, glitters a-top,
Like a fish-scale roof,
Like the church roof in Poictiers
If it where gold.Read more ›
Harold Bloom observes in his book The Western Canon that for major literary heavyweights Dante Alighieri tends to be the role model. Joseph Campbell observes as much regarding James Joyce: "The model for Joyce's life was Dante". Dante felt strongly that educated people have a duty to assist practically in the betterment of humanity. Being a mere aesthete, for Dante, was burying one's talents at best and moral cowardice in the face of the enemy at worst. Pound accepted Dante's challenge. Throughout the Cantos Pound wages war on the perennial demonic forces always endangering the home, environment, culture, and representative government. The Cantos are a poetic attack strategy for recognizing and overcoming such forces. Often autobiographical, the Cantos also chronicle Pound's odyssey through the tumultuous twentieth century. The work commences by invoking the muses in an immemorial Ulysses quest (Canto I), then serially time-travels through European culture via paratactic histories and biographies of heroes who successfully (or unsuccessfully) combated the blind demonic forces of cultural barbarism and hedonism. In this sense, the Cantos are a modern-day Plutarch's Lives - history interpreted by a poet.
2. THE CRISES
Pound's first personal crisis followed the First World War, in which many of his own friends died. "I sought to discover what causes war", he said. His conclusion after years of exhaustive historical research was that wars are fomented by elite power groups: Corrupt government officials colluding with militarists, industrialists, and international bankers for their own personal (and treasonous) gain. It was then that both the Cantos' character, and Pound's character, changed (somewhere around Canto 45, the famous-infamous Usury Canto).Read more ›
When I first opened the Cantos, I felt that they were not well written, because the writing is choppy, in places it seems haphazard and sloppy. One can also read his `Guide to Culture' and find that it reads like a notebook; not for public consumption. However, Pound's power does not lie with his `technical' skill. There I would look perhaps to Louis Zukofsky, whose style and thought was similar, but whose technique is profound and impeccable. By contrast, Pound gives the impression of writing with incredible haste and bluster, as if fighting with his life to complete this work before his death. There is no real pattern to all of the cantos. It probably should be read more as a collection of poems on similar themes than in a Dantesque sort of way.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Ezra Pound wrote excellent poems in his youth but the Cantos are not worth the bother. In later life, he lamented having squandered so much time on the writing, referring to them... Read morePublished 12 months ago by Flavio LaMorticella
It's essential. It's dense. It's not super enjoyable. But when I die and people are cleaning out my possessions, I want them to see this, you know, so that people know how cool I... Read morePublished 18 months ago by James
Excellent ex-library book - which, incidentally, the seller didn't explain in the description.Published 19 months ago by Peter Bradbury
The commonplace book of a madman. Lines of breathtaking beauty (e.g. Canto IV, LXXIV, the closing fragments) jostle with crude, didactic ravings against usury and Jews. Read morePublished 20 months ago by Peter Jakobsen
Here---ta-da!---in all its profound mastery of idiom, phrasing, imagery, history, rant, rancid anti-semitism, beauty of line, and well seasoned with tag lines in Latin, Greek,... Read morePublished 20 months ago by Michael E. Nader
I think the honorific came from Eliot who , when I was in college, was just coming to be comprehensible for the general reader. Read morePublished on June 4, 2014 by Robert Duncanson
The Cantos are classic, of course. Although it might seem petty or inconsequential, I’d like to point out that the physical book is a big disappointment. Read morePublished on December 5, 2013 by Jeffrey Burghauser
Ezra Pound is one of the most overrated poets ever. He spends too much time cramming his poetry with vague greek stylings then turns into fractured poltical nonsence. Read morePublished on November 26, 2013 by Alef The Thunder Fox