Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound

Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound

Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound

Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound

Synopsis

The Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound contains the complete text, the poet’s first six books, their title pages in facsimile (A Lume Spento, 1908; A Quinzaine for This Yule, 1908; Personae, 1909; Exultations, 1909; Canzoni, 1911; Ripostes, 1912), and the long poem Redondillas (1911), for many years available only in a rare limited edition. There are, in addition, twenty-five poems originally published in periodicals but not previously collected, as well as thirty-eight others drawn from miscellaneous manuscripts. Ezra Pound’s 1926 collection, entitled Personae after his earlier volume of that name, was his personal choice of all the poems he wished to keep in print other than some translations and his Cantos. It was intended to be the definitive collection of his shorter poems, and so it should remain. Yet even the discarded works of a great poet are of value and interest to students and devotees. Originally, brought out clothbound by New Directions in 1976, the texts were established at the Center for the Study of Ezra Pound and His Contemporaries of The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library at Yale University. They were edited by Michael King under the direction of Louis L. Martz, who wrote the introduction, and Donald Gallup, formerly Curator of American Literature. Included are textual and bibliographic notes as well as indexes of titles and first lines.

Excerpt

And Malrin beheld the broidery of the stars become as wind-worn tapestries of ancient wars. And the memory of all old songs swept by him as an host blue-robèd trailing in dream, Odysseus, and Tristram, and the pale great gods of storm, the mailed Campeador and Roland and Villon's women and they of Valhalla; as a cascade of dull sapphires so poured they out of the mist and were gone.

("Malrin," p. 33)

We present here a volume that contains ninety-nine poems that Pound published in his early books but rejected when he made his definitive selection for Personae ("Collected Poems") of 1926; and we also include twenty-five poems that appeared only in periodicals or miscellanies, along with thirty-eight previously unpublished poems selected from more than a hundred unpublished early poems known to exist at Yale, Harvard, Texas, Chicago, and perhaps other places as well. What is the effect, one may ask, what is the use, of thus resurrecting so many poems that the author himself called "a collection of stale creampuffs," when some of them were republished in 1965? But then he added, with a wry gesture of affection, echoing his poem "Piccadilly": "Chocolate creams, who hath forgotten you?"

One might attempt to describe the experience of reading all these poems by such phrases as "filling the void," "shattering the mist," "banishing the twilight," or, best of all, "escaping from Swinburne to Cathay." For the first impression one may have from the earliest of these poems has been rightly set forth by T. S. Eliot in his estimate of the poetical situation faced by Pound in the first decade of this century: "The question was still," says Eliot, "where do we go from Swinburne: and the answer appeared to be, nowhere." It was a problem clearly grasped by Pound himself in a poem here first published, entitled "Swinburne: A Critique" (p. 261)--a poem in which Pound, perhaps deliberately, twice spells the name "Swinbourne," as though he were describing some country from whose bourne no traveler returns:

Blazes of color intermingled,
Wondrous pattern leading nowhere,
Music without a name,
Knights that ride in a dream,
Blind as all men are blind,
Why should the music show
Whither they go?
I am Swinburne, ruler in mystery.
None know the ending,
Blazes a-blending in splendor . . .

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