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The Genesis of Ezra Pound's CANTOS

The Genesis of Ezra Pound's CANTOS

RONALD L. BUSH
Copyright Date: 1976
Pages: 346
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt7zvcjz
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  • Book Info
    The Genesis of Ezra Pound's CANTOS
    Book Description:

    Ronald Hush traces the organic development of the poem and demonstrates that what seems to be eccentricity in the Cantos frequently corresponds to the common practice of Pound's contemporaries.

    Originally published in 1989.

    ThePrinceton Legacy Libraryuses the latest print-on-demand technology to again make available previously out-of-print books from the distinguished backlist of Princeton University Press. These paperback editions preserve the original texts of these important books while presenting them in durable paperback editions. The goal of the Princeton Legacy Library is to vastly increase access to the rich scholarly heritage found in the thousands of books published by Princeton University Press since its founding in 1905.

    eISBN: 978-1-4008-5339-7
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. INTRODUCTION
    (pp. ix-x)
    James Longenbach

    Late in his life, when Pound wrote the foreword to hisSelected Cantos, he chose a passage from “Three Cantos” (1917) as the “best introduction” to his fifty-year epic: “the modern world/Needs such a rag-bag to stuff all its thoughts in.” Along with the early version of Canto I, only a few lines from the aborted “Three Cantos” survive in Pound’s long poem; but today we may find these cantos complete inThe Genesis of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Ronald Bush’s account of the gestation and subsequent revision of these poems offers not only the best introduction to theCantosbut...

  4. PREFACE TO THE PAPERBACK EDITION
    (pp. xi-2)
    Ronald Bush
  5. CHAPTER I RED HERRINGS
    (pp. 3-20)

    In January 1925, after a false start and ten years’ work, Ezra Pound publishedA Draft of XVI Cantos for the Beginning of a Poem of Some Length. Since 1915, theCantoshad shared space on Pound’s triangular table with the manuscripts ofUlyssesand “Gerontion,” and had come to incorporate much of what he learned from his contemporaries. Nor did theCantos’evolution end in 1925. Once underway, Pound almost immediately began to alter the manner of the first volume of theCantos, and the poem continued to change over the next forty years. We have only to note...

  6. CHAPTER II A FIRST SET OF STRUCTURAL TERMS
    (pp. 21-52)

    The structural method of theCantosstarted in an intuition and changed gradually as Pound progressed from one stage of composition to the next. To argue whether the formal assumptions of the poem areimagisteor Vorticist or ideogrammic or something else is ultimately futile, a little like arguing whether a recently deceased friend should be described as he was at twenty or thirty-five or sixty. In the following discussion of the Vorticist background ofThree Cantos, therefore, I do not propose a new aesthetic basis for the entire poem. I merely wish to establish a structural framework more appropriate...

  7. CHAPTER III THE GROWTH OF THREE CANTOS
    (pp. 53-141)

    Northrop Frye, writing aboutParadise Lost, differentiated the epic poem from long poems that are simply narrative (“the more stories … [a narrative poet] tells, the more successful he is”) or simply encyclopedic. The epic, according to Frye, is “a poem that derived its structure from the epic traditions of Homer and Virgil and still had the quality of universal knowledge which belonged to the encyclopedic poem.” That is, the epic structure as it has been passed down from theOdysseyto theAeneidtoParadise Lostremains uniquely able to evoke enduring patterns of human experience. Frye contends that...

  8. CHAPTER IV TOWARD A NEW NARRATIVE VOICE
    (pp. 142-182)

    When Pound took over Browning’s “meditative,/ Semi-dramatic, semi-epic” method forThree Cantos, he also took over Browning’s devices for dramatizing a narrator. The speaking voice ofThree Cantosachieved a definite tone and a not inconsiderable presence through the agency of a running series of colloquial asides, and the poem’s “subjectivist” groundwork was accomplished by aSordello-like paratactic organization. TheCantosnever relinquished their paratactic techniques. But, betweenThree Cantos(1915) and the publication in 1919 of a very different Canto IV, Pound grew disenchanted with Browning’s rhetorical mannerisms, and sought more subtle methods to dramatize a different kind of...

  9. CHAPTER V STAGES OF REVISION
    (pp. 183-263)

    With the aid of unpublished letters in the Paige collection at Yale, it has been possible to construct a chronology of the composition of theCantosbetween 1915, the year that Pound wrote his father that the first three Cantos were completed, and 1925, when William Bird published the Three Mountains Press edition ofA Draft of XVI. Cantos of Ezra Pound for the Beginning of a Poem of Some Length.¹ According to that chronology, there were three crucial periods of composition: (1) 1915, when versions ofThree Cantoswere composed and two more Cantos were mapped out; (2) 1919,...

  10. CHAPTER VI “MURMUR OF OLD MEN’S VOICES”
    (pp. 264-300)

    InThree Cantos’first theophany, the poem’s speaker undergoes a shining moment of reverie and revelation. A “flare” starts his speculative progress from the dead surface of a Christian ritual back to the living presence of “some old god” hidden in the pagan origins of the feast of Corpus Christi. The speaker pauses overlociin Arnaut Daniel and Catullus, and ends finally amidst the luminousness of an embedded Latin word,apricus(drenched with sunlight). It is a magic moment to which Pound had often returned in his early poetry, and one that corresponded to the “delightful psychic experience” he...

  11. Appendix A A Guide to the Publication History of the Cantos up to and Including 1925’s A Draft of XVI. Cantos of Ezra Pound for the Beginning of a Poem of some Length
    (pp. 301-303)
  12. Appendix B. The Future Cantos
    (pp. 304-312)
  13. Appendix C Canto VI as it originally appeared in A Draft of XVI Cantos
    (pp. 313-316)
  14. List of Abbreviations
    (pp. 317-318)
  15. GENERAL INDEX
    (pp. 319-328)
  16. INDEX OF POUND’S WORKS
    (pp. 329-332)