Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound

Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound

Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound

Selected Cantos of Ezra Pound


This selection from the Cantos was made by Ezra Pound himself in 1965. It is intended to indicate main elements in the long poem––his personal epic––with which he was engaged for more than fifty years. His choice includes, of course, a number of the Cantos most admired by critics and anthologists, such as Canto XIII (“Kung [Confucius] walked by the dynastic temple…”), Canto XLV (“With usura hath no man a house of good stone…”) and the passage from The Pisan Cantos (LXXXI) beginning “What thou lovest well remains / the rest is dross,” and so the book is an ideal introduction for newcomers to the great work. But it has, too, particular interest for the already initiated reader and the specialist, in its revelation, through Pound’s own selection of ’main elements,’ of the relative importance which he himself placed on various motifs as they figure in the architecture of the whole poem.


I have made these selections to indicate main elements in the Cantos . To the specialist the task of explaining them. As Jung says: "Being essentially the instrument for his work, he [the artist] is subordinate to it and we have no reason for expecting him to interpret it for us. He has done the best that is in him by giving it form and he must leave interpretation to others and to the future."

The best introduction to the Cantos and to the present selection of passages might be the following lines from the earlier draft of a Canto (1912), reprinted in the fiftieth memorial issue of Poetry (Chicago).

Hang it all, there can be but one "Sordello"!
But say I want to, say I take your whole bag of tricks,
Let in your quirks and tweeks, and say the thing's an art-form,
Your Sordello, and that the modern world
Needs such a rag-bag to stuff all its thoughts in;
Say that I dump my catch, shiny and silvery
As fresh sardines slapping and slipping on the marginal cobbles?
(I stand before the booth, the speech; but the truth
Is inside this discourse--this booth is full of the marrow of wisdom.)


Venice, 20th October, 1966 . . .

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