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Ezra Pound: Poems and Translations (Library of America) Hardcover – October 13, 2003

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Editorial Reviews

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.
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 144)
  • Hardcover: 1363 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America; First Edition edition (October 13, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1931082413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1931082419
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 1.6 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #905,840 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Not long ago English Departments were busy with dissertation after dissertation on Ezra Pound. At the time, many complained of a Pound Factory or Pound Industry. Yet today, there is not one Amazon review of this important collection of modern poetry. We all know the charges against Pound, anti-American, Anti-Semite, etc... and there can and should be no justification for any of the truly ugly things that he said and believed. If I am not mistaken, though, Richard Wagner is once again being played without challenge. I suspect that it has to do with the unfortunate fact that he produced works of amazing genius. Though I am no fan of Wagner or his music and despise his and Pound's racism, I do feel it necessary to acknowlege his place within the realm of modern/romantic music and/or the history of opera. Pound was, though we may not like the fact, a poet of genius who mentored Joyce, Eliot, Hemingway, Frost, Lowell, and yes even Yeats. He is an important bridge from modernism back to the Edwardian and Victorian poets. We ignore him and his works of genius at our own loss.
The Library of America edition has brought together many individual works of Pound from the Personna to his verse translations from the Chinese (in a manner of speaking). They have provided a significant service to Arts and Letters in this country by filling in this gape in their catalogue. This work contains all of Pound's poetry excluding the Cantos. Dig in deep, open this work anywhere and discover Pound afresh. You will see why A.S. Byatt considered using Pound's verse for her masterful, Possessions. As he said of Eliot, "Read him."
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With the complete exception of any and all of Pound's Cantos this collection is simply exhaustive. I cannot imagine that there exists very much more than is contained herein. This volume along with The Complete Cantos I would consider to be sufficient as, more or less, the completion of any poetry enthusiasts Pound collection and I certainly recommend it (especially to aspiring poets). If you already enjoy Pound's work this is definitely for you.
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Ezra Pound remains a problem: at his best superb poet and one of the finest poetic craftsmen ever (I don't think I've read a line of his without learning something about how to write poetry,) at worst still interestingly idiosyncratic; as a critic by turns brilliantly insightful and stubbornly wrong-headed; as a translator repeatedly devising versions which for all their faults indelibly alter our perception of the originals; as a literary activist and promoter, responsible for fostering more talent than any other person in the modern English-speaking world; and, notoriously, in his politics one of the most pernicious figures of his century. No serious reader of modern poetry can afford to neglect him, and for such readers this Library of America collection of all Pound's verse except for the Cantos will be indispensible. It includes a Chronology of Pound's life which amounts to a brief biography, as well as brief and selective but useful notes. The book is a worthy investment for serious students (whether in school or not); less ambitious readers of poetry would be better off with the briefer New Selected Poems and Translations (Second Edition) (New Directions Paperbook).
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Pound is hard for any contemporary writer to deal with clearly: he was crucial to modernism and objectivism, but his politics are objectionable and his politics did inform his later writing. His poetic translations from the Chinese are not so much translations and riddled with an ideological orientalism that did come out of (somewhat misinformed) place of respect. Yet he is a not "major minor" as he has been called by other poets because of his politics and his anti-American turn. Indeed, he does seem to have been somewhat distanced from reality turns the end of his life.

This includes much of Pounds work, excluding his prose and the Cantos, but including the persona poems and his Chinese poems. Pound's brilliance does shine through in these poems. The resonance of Pound's poetry and his lyric compactness come through in this collection without some of the seeming ambitious but seemingly incoherent of parts of the Cantos.

Hopefully this volume will keep Pound work and his importance in circulation without valorizing or ignoring the problematic elements of Pound's thought and career. However, this does make it clear that Pound was a major modernist poet.
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At last! All the poetry and translations of poems the Master of Those Who Know has written have been gathered into on helluva volume. Terrific works by one of the seminal writers of poetry in the first half of the 20th century. This should be in your library.
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