Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound

Of all the major literary figures in the twentieth century, Ezra Pound has been one of the most controversial; he has also been one of modern poetry's most important contributors. In an introduction to the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot declared that Pound "is more responsible for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry than is any other individual." Four decades later, Donald Hall reaffirmed in remarks collected in Remembering Poets that "Ezra Pound is the poet who, a thousand times more than any other man, has made modern poetry possible in English."

The importance of Pound's contributions to the arts and to the revitalization of poetry early in this century has been widely acknowledged; yet in 1950, Hugh Kenner could claim in his groundbreaking study The Poetry of Ezra Pound, "There is no great contemporary writer who is less read than Ezra Pound." Pound never sought, nor had, a wide reading audience; his technical innovations and use of unconventional poetic materials often baffled even sympathetic readers. Early in his career, Pound aroused controversy because of his aesthetic views; later, because of his political views. For the greater part of this century, however, Pound devoted his energies to advancing the art of poetry and maintaining his aesthetic standards in the midst of extreme adversity.

In his article "How I Began," collected in Literary Essays, Pound claimed that as a youth he had resolved to "know more about poetry than any man living." In pursuit of this goal, he settled in London from 1908 to 1920, where he carved out a reputation for himself as a member of the literary avant-garde and a tenacious advocate of contemporary work in the arts. Through his criticism and translations, as well as in his own poetry, particularly in his Cantos, Pound explored poetic traditions from different cultures ranging from ancient Greece, China, and the continent, to current-day England and America. In The Tale of the Tribe Michael Bernstein observed that Pound "sought, long before the notion became fashionable, to break with the long tradition of Occidental ethnocentrism." In his efforts to develop new directions in the arts, Pound also promoted and supported such writers as James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and Robert Frost. The critic David Perkins, writing in A History of Modern Poetry, summarized Pound's enormous influence: "The least that can be claimed of his poetry is that for over fifty years he was one of the three or four best poets writing in English"; and, Perkins continues, his "achievement in and for poetry was threefold: as a poet, and as a critic, and as a befriender of genius through personal contact." In a 1915 letter to Harriet Monroe, Pound himself described his activities as an effort "to keep alive a certain group of advancing poets, to set the arts in their rightful place as the acknowledged guide and lamp of civilization."

Arriving in Italy in 1908 with only $80, Pound spent $8 to have his first book of poems, A Lume Spento, printed in June, 1908, in an edition of one hundred copies. An unsigned review appearing in the May 1909 Book News Monthly (collected in Ezra Pound: The Critical Heritage) noted, "French phrases and scraps of Latin and Greek punctuate his poetry.... He affects obscurity and loves the abstruse." William Carlos Williams, a college friend and himself a poet, wrote to Pound, criticizing the bitterness in the poems; Pound objected that the pieces were dramatic presentations, not personal expressions. On October 21, 1909, he responded to Williams, "It seems to me you might as well say that Shakespeare is dissolute in his plays because Falstaff is ... or that the plays have a criminal tendency because there is murder done in them." He insisted on making a distinction between his own feelings and ideas and those presented in the poems: "I catch the character I happen to be interested in at the moment he interests me, usually a moment of song, self-analysis, or sudden understanding or revelation. I paint my man as I conceive him," explaining that "the sort of thing I do" is "the short so-called dramatic lyric." Pound continued to explore the possibilities of the dramatic lyric in his work, later expanding the technique into the character studies of Homage to Sextus Propertius and Selwyn Mauberley and of the countless figures who people the Cantos.

Pound carried copies of A Lume Spento to distribute when he moved to London later that year; the book convinced Elkin Mathews, a London bookseller and publisher, to bring out Pound's next works: A Quinzaine for this Yule, Exultations and Personae. Reviews of these books were generally favorable, as notices collected in The Critical Heritage reveal: Pound "is that rare thing among modern poets, a scholar," wrote one anonymous reviewer in the December, 1909 Spectator, adding that Pound has "the capacity for remarkable poetic achievement." British poet F. S. Flint wrote in a May, l909 review in the New Age, "we can have no doubt as to his vitality and as to his determination to burst his way into Parnassus." Flint praised the "craft and artistry, originality and imagination" in Personae, although several other unsigned reviews pointed out difficulties with Pound's poems.

His first major critical work, The Spirit of Romance, was, Pound said, an attempt to examine "certain forces, elements or qualities which were potent in the medieval literature of the Latin tongues, and are, I believe, still potent in our own." The writers he discussed turn up again and again in his later writings: Dante, Cavalcanti, and Villon, for example. Pound contributed scores of reviews and critical articles to various periodicals such as the New Age, the Egoist, the Little Review and Poetry, where he articulated his aesthetic principles and indicated his literary, artistic, and musical preferences, thus offering information helpful for interpreting his poetry. In his introduction to the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot noted, "It is necessary to read Pound's poetry to understand his criticism, and to read his criticism to understand his poetry." His criticism is important in its own right; as David Perkins pointed out in A History of Modern Poetry, "During a crucial decade in the history of modern literature, approximately 1912-1922, Pound was the most influential and in some ways the best critic of poetry in England or America." Eliot stated in his introduction to Pound's Literary Essays that Pound's literary criticism was "the most important contemporary criticism of its kind. He forced upon our attention not only individual authors, but whole areas of poetry, which no future criticism can afford to ignore."

Around 1912 Pound helped to create the movement he called "Imagisme," which marked the end of his early poetic style. In remarks first recorded in the March, 1913 Poetry and later collected in his Literary Essays as "A Retrospect," Pound explained his new literary direction. Imagism combined the creation of an "image"—what he defined as "an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time" or an "interpretative metaphor"—with rigorous requirements for writing. About these requirements, Pound was concise but insistent: "1) Direct treatment of the 'thing' whether subjective or objective 2) To use absolutely no word that did not contribute to the presentation 3) As regarding rhythm: to compose in sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome." These criteria meant 1) To carefully observe and describe phenomena, whether emotions, sensations, or concrete entities, and to avoid vague generalities or abstractions. Pound wanted "explicit rendering, be it of external nature or of emotion," and proclaimed "a strong disbelief in abstract and general statement as a means of conveying one's thought to others." 2) To avoid poetic diction in favor of the spoken language and to condense content, expressing it as concisely and precisely as possible. 3) To reject conventional metrical forms in favor of individualized cadence. Each poem, Pound declared, should have a rhythm "which corresponds exactly to the emotion or shade of emotion to be expressed."

The original Imagist group included just Pound, H. D. (Hilda Doolittle), Richard Aldington, F. S. Flint, and later William Carlos Williams. American poet Amy Lowell also adopted the term, contributing one poem to the 1914 anthology Des Imagistes, edited by Pound. In following years, Lowell sponsored her own anthologies that Pound thought did not meet his Imagist standards; and wishing to dissociate himself from what he derisively called "Amygism," he changed the term "Image" to "Vortex," and "Imagism" to "Vorticism." Writing in the Fortnightly Review of September 1, 1914, Pound expanded his definition of the image: "a radiant node or cluster, it is what I can, and must perforce call a VORTEX, from which, and through which, and into which ideas are constantly rushing." As a much more comprehensive aesthetic principle, Vorticism also extended into the visual arts and music, thus including such artists as the Englishman Wyndham Lewis and Henri Gaudier-Breska, a French sculptor.

Another important facet of Pound's literary activity was his tireless promotion of other writers and artists. He persuaded Harriet Monroe to publish T. S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," calling it in a 1914 letter to Monroe "the best poem I have yet had or seen from an American." In 1921, he edited Eliot's The Waste Land (published 1922), possibly the most important poem of the modernist era. In a circular (reprinted in Pound's Letters) for Bel Esprit, the well-intentioned but ill-fated scheme to help support artists in need, Pound described the poetic sequence of Eliot's poem as "possibly the finest that the modern movement in English has produced." Eliot in turn dedicated the poem to "Ezra Pound, il miglior fabbro" (the better craftsman), and in his introduction to Pound's Selected Poems (1928) declared, "I sincerely consider Ezra Pound the most important living poet in the English language."

Pound was also an early supporter of the Irish novelist James Joyce, arranging for the publication of several of the stories in Dubliners (1914) and A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916) in literary magazines before they were published in book form. Forrest Read, in his introduction to Pound/Joyce: The Letters of Ezra Pound to James Joyce, reported that Pound described Joyce to the Royal Literary Fund as "without exception the best of the younger prose writers." Read declared that Pound "got Joyce printed" and "at critical moments Pound was able to drum up financial support from such varied sources as the Royal Literary Fund, the Society of Authors, the British Parliament, and the New York lawyer John Quinn in order to help Joyce keep writing." Richard Sieburth in Istigatios: Ezra Pound and Remy de Gourment noted, "Ever concerned about the state of Joyce's health, finances, and masterpiece-in-progress, Pound prevailed upon him to quit Trieste for Paris, thus setting in motion one of the major forces that would make Paris the magnet of modernism over the next decade. When Joyce and family arrived in Paris in July, Pound was there to help them settle: he arranged for lodgings, and loans ... and introduced Joyce ... to the future publisher of Ulysses (1922), Sylvia Beach."

Other writers Pound praised while they were still relatively unknown included D. H. Lawrence, Robert Frost, H. D., and Ernest Hemingway. In his Life of Ezra Pound, Noel Stock recalled that in 1925, the first issue of This Quarter was dedicated to "Ezra Pound who by his creative work, his editorship of several magazines, his helpful friendship for young and unknown ... comes first to our mind as meriting the gratitude of this generation." Included among the tributes to Pound was a statement of appreciation from Ernest Hemingway: "We have Pound the major poet devoting, say, one-fifth of his time to poetry. With the rest of his time he tries to advance the fortunes, both material and artistic, of his friends. He defends them when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. He loans them money. He sells their pictures.... He advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide. And in the end a few of them refrain from knifing him at the first opportunity."

Pound's contributions to translation and his rapid critical and poetic development during the Vorticist years are reflected in Cathay (1915), translations from the Chinese. In a June, 1915 review in Outlook, reprinted in The Critical Heritage, Ford Madox Ford declared it "the best work he has yet done;" the poems, of "a supreme beauty," revealed Pound's "power to express emotion ... intact and exactly." Sinologists criticized Pound for the inaccuracies of the translations; Wi-lim Yip, in his Ezra Pound's Cathay, admitted, "One can easily excommunicate Pound from the Forbidden City of Chinese studies"; yet he believed that Pound conveyed "the central concerns of the original author" and that no other translation "has assumed so interesting and unique a position as Cathay in the history of English translations of Chinese poetry." In The Pound Era, Kenner pointed out that Cathay was an interpretation as much as a translation; the "poems paraphrase an elegiac war poetry.... among the most durable of all poetic responses to World War I." Perhaps the clearest assessment of Pound's achievement was made at the time by T. S. Eliot in his introduction to Pound's Selected Poems; he called Pound "the inventor of Chinese poetry for our time" and predicted that Cathay would be called a "magnificent specimen of twentieth-century poetry" rather than a translation.

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) avoided the problems of being evaluated as a translation, since the title refers to a fictional rather than an historical poet. Yet this poem also suffered at the hands of readers who misunderstood the author's intent. In a July, 1922 letter to his former professor, Felix Schelling, Pound described Propertius and Mauberley as "portraits," his rendering of sensibilities. Propertius represents the character of a Roman writer responding to his age; Mauberley, the character of a contemporary British critic-poet. Both poems were, Pound told Schelling, his attempt "to condense a James novel" and both were extended dramatic lyrics. "Mauberley is a learned, allusive, and difficult poem, extra-ordinarily concentrated and complex," Michael Alexander observed in The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound; a central difficulty the poetic sequence presents is point of view. Most importantly, however, Mauberley served as Pound's "farewell to London" and showed, according to Alexander, "how profoundly Pound wished to reclaim for poetry areas which the lyric tradition lost to the novel in the nineteenth century—areas of social, public, and cultural life." The poem thus points toward the work that was to occupy Pound for the remainder of his life: the Cantos.

By the time Pound left London for Paris in December, 1920, he had already accomplished enough to assure himself a place of first importance in twentieth-century literature. Yet his most ambitious work, the Cantos, was scarcely begun. And for a time, it seemed that his long poem was stalled. He had written to Joyce in 1917, "I have begun an endless poem, of no known category ... all about everything." His original first Three Cantos had been published in Poetry (1917) and his Fourth Canto in 1919. Cantos V, VI, and VII appeared in the Dial (1921) and "The Eighth Canto" appeared in 1922, but except for limited editions, no new poems appeared in book form for the next decade. A Draft of XVI. Cantos (1925) in an edition of only ninety copies came out in Paris, and A Draft of XXX Cantos in 1930; but commercial editions of the first thirty Cantos were not published in London and New York until 1933.

The significance of Pound's undertaking was recognized early. In a 1931 review for Hound and Horn, reprinted in The Critical Heritage, Dudley Fitts called the Cantos "without any doubt, the most ambitious poetic conception of our day." Three decades later, in "The Cantos in England," also reprinted in The Critical Heritage, Donald Hall concluded, "Pound is a great poet, and the Cantos are his masterwork." The long poem, however, presented innumerable difficulties to its readers. When A Draft of XVI. Cantos appeared, William Carlos Williams lamented in a 1927 issue of the New York Evening Post Literary Review (reprinted in The Critical Heritage), "Pound has sought to communicate his poetry to us and failed. It is a tragedy, since he is our best poet." Pound himself worried: "Afraid the whole damn poem is rather obscure, especially in fragments," he wrote his father in April, 1927. With fragmentary, telescoped units of information arranged in unfamiliar ways, the Cantos confounded critics. Fitts summarized two common complaints: "The first of these is that the poem is incomprehensible, a perverse mystification; the second that it is structurally and melodically amorphous, not a poem, but a macaronic chaos." And George Kearns in his Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Cantos warned that "a basic understanding of the poem requires a major investment of time" since if "one wants to read even a single canto, one must assemble information from a great many sources." The first major critical treatment of Pound's work, Kenner's The Poetry of Ezra Pound (1951) paved the way for other serious scholarly attention, and intense critical activity in recent years has produced a host of explanatory texts designed to help readers understand and evaluate the Cantos.

Reestablishing a poetic tradition traced from Homer's Odyssey and Dante's Divine Comedy, the Cantos are a modern epic. In his 1934 essay "Date Line" (in Literary Essays of Ezra Pound ), Pound defined an epic as "a poem containing history." He further declared, in An Introduction to the Economic Nature of the United States (1944; reprinted in Selected Prose, 1909-1965), "For forty years I have schooled myself, not to write an economic history of the U.S. or any other country, but to write an epic poem which begins 'In the Dark Forest,' crosses the Purgatory of human error, and ends in the light and 'fra i maestri di color che sanno' [among the masters of those who know]." Bernstein explained that Pound's concept of an epic determined many of the characteristics of the Cantos: "the principle emotion aroused by an epic should be admiration for some distinguished achievement," rather than "the pity and fear aroused by tragedy." Thus, the Cantos are peopled with figures Pound considers heroic. Historical characters such as fifteenth-century soldier and patron of the arts Sigismundo Malatesta, Elizabethan jurist Edward Coke, Elizabeth I, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson speak through fragments of their own writings. Embodying the ideals of personal freedom, courage, and independent thinking, they represented to Pound heroic figures whose public policies led to enlightened governing. Pound searched through the historical and mythical past as well as the modern world to find those who embodied the Confucian ideals of "sincerity" and "rectitude" in contrast to those who through greed, ignorance, and malevolence worked against the common good.

An epic also encompasses the entire known world and its learning; it is "the tale of the tribe." Thus, the Cantos were designed to dramatize the gradual acquisition of cultural knowledge. Pound's poem follows other epic conventions, such as beginning in medias res (in the middle) and including supernatural beings in the form of the classical goddesses. The structure is episodic and polyphonic, but the form is redefined to be appropriate for the modern world. Christine Froula in A Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Poems suggested that Pound's poem, "in its inclusion of fragments of many cultures and many languages, its multiple historical lines, its anthropological perspectives, remains a powerfully and often movingly expressive image of the modern world. It marks the end of the old idea of the tribe as a group who participate in and share a single, closed culture, and redefines it as the human community in all its complex diversity." The Cantos are, thus, "truly expressive of our perpetually unfolding perception and experience."

In an often quoted letter to his father in April, 1927, Pound explained that the "outline or main scheme" of the Cantos is "Rather like, or unlike, subject and response and counter subject in fugue: A.A. Live man goes down into world of Dead/C.B. The 'repeat in history'/B.C. The 'magic moment' or moment of metamorphosis, bust thru from quotidien into 'divine or permanent world.' Gods., etc." In the same letter, Pound also briefly outlined the themes—the visit to the world of the dead, the repetition in history, and the moment of metamorphosis—all of which have correspondences in three texts that served as his major inspiration: Dante's Divine Comedy, Homer's Odyssey, and Ovid's Metamorphosis. To these models, Pound added the teachings of Confucius, historical material, and information from his immediate experience. In The Spirit of Romance (1910), Pound had earlier interpreted the Divine Comedy both as a literal description of Dante's imagining a journey "through the realms inhabited by the spirits of the men after death" and as the journey of "Dante's intelligence through the states of mind wherein dwell all sorts and conditions of men before death." The Cantos also dramatize such a journey. "By no means an orderly Dantescan rising/but as the winds veer" (Canto LXXIV), the Cantos record a pilgrimage—an intellectual and spiritual voyage that parallels Dante's pursuit of enlightenment and Ulysses's search for his proper home. Alexander noted, "If the Cantos are not cast consistently in the form of a voyage of discovery, they are conducted in the spirit of such a venture, and continents or islands of knowledge, like Enlightenment America or Siena, or corners of Renaissance Italy, or China as seen via Confucianism, are explored and reported on." The journey in the Cantos occurs on two levels: one, a spiritual quest for transcendence, for the revelation of divine forces that lead to individual enlightenment; the other, an intellectual search for worldly wisdom, a vision of the Just City that leads to civic order and harmony. These goals, personal and public, are present throughout the poem; they also sustained the poet throughout his life.

Canto I introduces these controlling themes, presenting Odysseus's visit to the underworld, where he is to receive information from the spirits of the dead that will enable him to return home. The scene also serves as an analogy to the poet's exploration of the literature from the past in hopes of retrieving information that may be significant in his own time. Later Cantos present historical figures such as Sigismundo Malatesta and explore the relationship between creativity in the political and literary realms. By the 1930s, Pound was writing about banking and economic systems, and incorporating into the Cantos his own ideas about usury, which he identified as an exploitative economic system. Froula noted that the Cantos was "a verbal war against economic corruption, against literal wars, against materialism, against habits of mind that permit the perpetuation of political domination. It advocates economic reform as the basis of social and cultural reform, and it could not have held aloof from political reality."

Pound himself was also not aloof from political reality. An admirer of Mussolini, he lived in fascist Italy beginning in 1925. When World War II broke out, Pound stayed in Italy, retaining his U.S. citizenship, and broadcasting a series of controversial radio commentaries. These commentaries often attacked Roosevelt and the Jewish bankers whom Pound held responsible for the war. By 1943 the U.S. government deemed the broadcasts to be treasonous; at war's end the poet was arrested by the U.S. Army and kept imprisoned in a small, outdoor wire cage at a compound near Pisa, Italy. For several weeks during that hot summer, Pound was confined to the cage. At night floodlights lit his prison. Eventually judged to be mentally incompetent to stand trial, Pound was incarcerated in St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. He stayed in the hospital until 1958 when Robert Frost led a successful effort to free the poet. Ironically, while imprisoned by the army in Italy, Pound completed the "Pisan Cantos," a group of poems that Paul L. Montgomery of the New York Times called "among the masterpieces of this century." The poems won him the Bollingen Prize in 1949.

Upon his release from St. Elizabeth's in 1958, Pound returned to Italy, where he lived quietly for the rest of his life. In 1969 Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII appeared, including the despairing lines: "My errors and wrecks lie about me/...I cannot make it cohere." Speaking to Donald Hall, Pound described his Cantos as a "botch.... I picked out this and that thing that interested me, and then jumbled them into a bag. But that's not the way to make a work of art. " Poet Allen Ginsberg reported in Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness that Pound had "felt that the Cantos were 'stupidity and ignorance all the way through,' and were a failure and a 'mess.'" Ginsberg responded that the Cantos "were an accurate representation of his mind and so couldn't be thought of in terms of success or failure, but only in terms of the actuality of their representation, and that since for the first time a human being had taken the whole spiritual world of thought through fifty years and followed the thoughts out to the end—so that he built a model of his consciousness over a fifty-year time span—that they were a great human achievement."

Pound died in November of 1972; he was buried in his beloved Italy, on the cemetery island Isole di San Michele. In the years since his death, scholarly examination of his works have continued unabated. Several works of primary scholarship have been released, including several letter collections that trace both Pound's career and the evolution of his poetic achievements. A Walking Tour in Southern France: Ezra Pound among the Troubadors provides Pound scholars with the poet's notes regarding his 1912 walking trip through Provence, a landscape and cultural arena that would influence his later Cantos. Edited letter collections include correspondence with poets William Carlos Williams and E. E. Cummings, political ruminations with U.S. Senator Bronson Cutting, and The Letters of Ezra Pound to Alice Corbin Henderson, which details the working relationship between Pound and Poetry editor over a thirty-seven-year period.

In August of 1933 Pound, living in Italy and at work on his Cantos, received a letter from a young Harvard student. The student, James Laughlin, came to visit the poet in Rapallo, sparking a correspondence that would span the remainder of the poet's life and Laughlin's own rise to founder of New Directions Press, Pound's U.S. publisher. Partially collected in 1994 as Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters, the written correspondence between these two friends was vast, numbering more than twenty-seven hundred items. Some were written from Rapallo, where the poet battled with his muse, while others were written during Pound's tenure in St. Elizabeth's, as his battle grew more inward; forbidden most correspondence as one of the terms of his punishment, Pound's letters to Laughlin were smuggled out in his wife's handbag on the days of her visits. Through the letters, notes Rockwell Gray in the Chicago Tribune, "Pound reminds us how much language shares with music.... Under the showy surface, however, the extra-poetic Pound reveals an all too human concern with vanity wounded by questions of publication, remuneration and reputation. Through it all runs a sense of alienation from a native land he needed to whip, presumably for its own good. Such themes—along with Pound's tiresome crusade against usury and modern capitalism—bedeviled his gifted mind." Pound's energetic, imagistic letters can be seen as yet unrefined cantos in themselves: "In fact," notes Donald E. Herdeck in Bloomsbury Review, "the Cantos are Ezra L. Pound's letters to all of us—the rant, the stubbornness, the pith and humor of the Cantos are here, as first drafts, or widening ripples of the life that became the Cantos." Through his vast outpouring of creative work: poetry, translation, editorships, prose, letters, Pound fulfilled the requirement for a poet that he had set for himself in his Selected Prose, 1909-1965: "The essential thing about a poet is that he build us his world."


Writer, poet, critic. Wabash College, Crawfordsville, IN, lecturer in French and Spanish, 1906; Regent Street Polytechnic Institute, London, England, teacher of literature; London correspondent for Poetry (Chicago), 1912-19; associated with H. L. Mencken's Smart Set; W. B. Yeats's unofficial secretary in Sussex, England, 1913-16; unofficial literary executor for Ernest Fenollosa, London, 1914; member, editorial staff, of Mercure de France, Paris, and of British publications, Egoist and Cerebralist; founder, with Wyndham Lewis, of Vorticist magazine, BLAST!, 1914; London editor of Little Review, 1917-19; left London, 1921, and settled in Paris; Paris correspondent for Dial, 1922; moved to Rapallo, Italy, 1925; founder and editor of Exile, 1927-28; radio broadcaster in Rome until 1945; arrested by U.S. Army in 1945 and charged with treason; after being declared insane and unfit to stand trial for his life, committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital, Washington, DC, until 1958; lived in Italy, 1958-72.



  • A Lume Spento (also see below), privately printed (Venice) by A. Antonini, 1908.
  • A Quinzaine for This Yule, Pollock (London), 1908.
  • Personae, Elkin Mathews (London), 1909.
  • Exultations, Elkin Mathews, 1909.
  • Provenca, Small, Maynard (Boston), 1910.
  • Canzoni, Elkin Mathews, 1911.
  • Ripostes of Ezra Pound, S. Swift (London), 1912, Small, Maynard, 1913.
  • Personae and Exultations of Ezra Pound, [London], 1913.
  • Canzoni and Ripostes of Ezra Pound, Elkin Mathews, 1913.
  • Lustra of Ezra Pound, Elkin Mathews, 1916 , Knopf (New York), 1917.
  • Quia Pauper Amavi, Egoist Press (London), 1918.
  • The Fourth Canto, Ovid Press (London), 1919.
  • (And translations) Umbra, Elkin Mathews, 1920.
  • Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, Ovid Press, 1920.
  • Poems, 1918-1921, Boni & Liveright (New York), 1921.
  • A Draft of XVI Cantos, Three Mountains Press, 1925.
  • Personae: The Collected Poems of Ezra Pound, Boni & Liveright, 1926.
  • Selected Poems, edited and with an introduction by T. S. Eliot, Faber & Gwyer, 1928, Laughlin, 1957.
  • A Draft of the Cantos 17-27, John Rodker (London), 1928.
  • A Draft of XXX Cantos, Hours Press (Paris), 1930, Farrar & Rinehart, 1933.
  • Homage to Sextus Propertius, Faber, 1934.
  • Eleven New Cantos: XXXI-XLI, Farrar & Rinehart, 1934, published in England as A Draft of Cantos XXXI-XLI, Faber, 1935.
  • (Under pseudonym The Poet of Titchfield Street) Alfred Venison's Poems: Social Credit Themes, Nott (London), 1935.
  • The Fifth Decade of Cantos, Farrar & Rinehart, 1937.
  • Cantos LII-LXXI, New Directions (New York), 1940.
  • A Selection of Poems, Faber, 1940.
  • The Pisan Cantos (also see below), New Directions, 1948.
  • The Cantos of Ezra Pound (includes The Pisan Cantos ), New Directions, 1948, revised edition, Faber, 1954.
  • Selected Poems, New Directions, 1949.
  • Personnae: The Collected Poems of Ezra Pound, New Directions, 1950, published in England as Personnae: Collected Shorter Poems, Faber, 1952, new edition published as Collected Shorter Poems, Faber, 1968.
  • Seventy Cantos, Faber, 1950.
  • Section Rock-Drill, 85-95 de los Cantares, All'Insegna del Pesce d'Oro (Milan), 1955, New Directions, 1956.
  • Thrones: 96-109 de los Cantares, New Directions, 1959.
  • The Cantos (1-109), new edition, Faber, 1964.
  • The Cantos (1-95), New Directions, 1965.
  • A Lume Spento, and Other Early Poems, New Directions, 1965.
  • Selected Cantos, Faber, 1967.
  • Drafts and Fragments: Cantos CX-CXVII, New Directions, 1968.
  • From Syria: The Worksheets, Proofs, and Text, edited by Robin Skelton, Copper Canyon Press, 1981.
  • The Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound, New Directions, 1982.
  • Diptych Rome-London (includes Hugh Selwyn Mauberley), New Directions, 1994.
  • Early Poems, Dover, 1996.
  • Ezra Pound: Poems and Translations, Library of America, 2004.


  • The Spirit of Romance, Dent, 1910, New Directions, 1952, revised edition, P. Owen, 1953.
  • Gaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir Including the Published Writings of the Sculptor and a Selection from His Letters, John Lane, 1916, New Directions, 1961.
  • (With Ernest Fenollosa) Noh; or, Accomplishment: A Study of the Classical Stage of Japan, Macmillan (London), 1916, Knopf, 1917, published as The Classic Noh Theatre of Japan, New Directions, 1960.
  • Pavannes and Divisions, Knopf, 1918.
  • Instigations of Ezra Pound, Together with an Essay on the Chinese Written Character by Ernest Fenollosa, Boni & Liveright, 1920.
  • Indiscretions, Three Mountains Press (Paris), 1923.
  • (Under pseudonym William Atheling) Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony, Three Mountains Press, 1924, published under his own name, P. Covici, 1927, 2nd edition, Da Capo, 1968.
  • Imaginary Letters, Black Sun Press (Paris), 1930.
  • How to Read, Harmsworth, 1931.
  • ABC of Economics, Faber, 1933, New Directions, 1940, 2nd edition, Russell, 1953.
  • ABC of Reading, Yale University Press, 1934, new edition, Faber, 1951.
  • Make It New, Faber, 1934, Yale University Press, 1935.
  • Social Credit: An Impact (pamphlet), Nott, 1935.
  • Jefferson and/or Mussolini, Nott, 1935, Liveright, 1936.
  • Polite Essays, Faber, 1937, New Directions, 1940.
  • Culture, New Directions, 1938, new edition published as Guide to Kulchur, New Directions, 1952.
  • What Is Money For?, Greater Britain Publications, 1939, published as What Is Money For?: A Sane Man's Guide to Economics, Revisionist Press, 1982.
  • Carla da Visita, Edizioni di Lettere d'Oggi (Rome), 1942, translation by John Drummond published as A Visiting Card, Russell, 1952, published as A Visiting Card: Ancient and Modern History of Script and Money, Revisionist Press, 1983.
  • L'America, Roosevelt e le Cause della Guerra Presente, Edizioni Popolari (Venice), 1944, translation by Drummond published as America, Roosevelt and the Causes of the Present War, Russell, 1951.
  • Introduzione alla Natura Economica degli S.U.A., Edizioni Popolari, 1944, English translation by Carmine Amore published as An Introduction to the Economic Nature of the United States, Russell, 1958.
  • Oro e Lavoro, Tip. Moderna (Rapallo, Italy), 1944, translation by Drummond published as Gold and Work, Russell, 1952.
  • Orientamenti, Edizioni Popolari, 1944.
  • "If This Be Treason..." (four original drafts of Rome radio broadcasts), privately printed for Olga Rudge, 1948.
  • The Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907-1941, edited by D. D. Paige, Harcourt, 1950.
  • Patria Mia, R. F. Seymour (Chicago), 1950, published in England as Patria Mia and The Treatise on Harmony, Owen, 1962.
  • Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, edited and with an introduction by T. S. Eliot, New Directions, 1954.
  • Lavoro ed Usura, All'Insegna del Pesce d'Oro, 1954.
  • Brancusi, [Milan], 1957.
  • Pavannes and Divagations, New Directions, 1958.
  • Impact: Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization, edited and with an introduction by Noel Stock, Regnery, 1960.
  • EP to LU: Nine Letters Written to Louis Untermeyer, edited by J. A. Robbins, Indiana University Press, 1963.
  • Pound/Joyce: The Letters of Ezra Pound to James Joyce, edited by Forrest Read, New Directions, 1967.
  • Selected Prose, 1909-1965, edited by William Cookson, New Directions, 1973.
  • Ezra Pound and Music: The Complete Criticism, edited by R. Murray Schafer, New Directions, 1977.
  • "Ezra Pound Speaking": Radio Speeches of World War II, edited by Leonard W. Doob, Greenwood Press, 1978.
  • Letters to Ibbotsom, 1935-1952, National Poetry Foundation, 1979.
  • Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts, edited by Harriet Zinnes, New Directions, 1980.
  • Letters to John Theobald, Black Swan Books, 1981.
  • Pound-Ford, the Story of a Literary Friendship: The Correspondence between Ezra Pound and Ford Madox Ford and Their Writings about Each Other, New Directions, 1982.
  • Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear: Their Letters, 1909-1914, New Directions, 1984.
  • Pound-Lewis: The Letters of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis, New Directions, 1985.
  • Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky, New Directions, 1987.
  • Pound the Little Review: The Letters of Ezra Pound to Margaret Anderson, New Directions, 1988.
  • A Walking Tour in Southern France: Ezra Pound among the Troubadors, edited with an introduction by Richard Sieburth, New Directions, 1992.
  • The Letters of Ezra Pound to Alice Corbin Henderson, edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of Texas Press (Austin), 1993.
  • Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters, edited by David Gordon, Norton, 1994.
  • Ezra Pound and Senator Bronson Cutting: A Political Correspondence, 1930-1935, University of New Mexico Press, 1995.
  • Pound/Cummings: The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and E. E. Cummings, edited by Betty Ahearn, University of Michigan Press, 1996.
  • Pound/Williams: Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, edited by Hugh Witemeyer, New Directions, 1996.
  • Machine Art and Other Writings: The Lost Thought of the Italian Years (essays), edited by Maria Luisa Ardizzone, Duke University Press, 1996.
  • Ezra and Dorothy Pound: Letters in Captivity, 1945-1946, edited by Omar Pound and Robert Spoo, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1998.
  • I Cease Not to Yowl: Ezra Pound's Letters to Olivia Rossetti Agresti, edited by Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos and Leon Surette, University of Illinois Press (Urbana, IL), 1998.


  • The Sonnets and Ballate of Guido Cavalcanti, Small, Maynard (Boston), 1912, published as Ezra Pound's Cavalcanti Poems (includes Mediaevalism and The Other Dimension, by Pound), New Directions, 1966.
  • (Contributor of translations) Selections from Collection Yvette Guilbert, [London], 1912.
  • Cathay, Elkin Mathews, 1915.
  • Certain Noh Plays of Japan, Cuala Press (Churchtown), 1916.
  • Twelve Dialogues of Fontenelle, 1917.
  • (With Agnes Bedford) The Troubadour Sings, 1920.
  • Remy de Gourmount, The Natural Philosophy of Love, Boni & Liveright 1922.
  • Confucius, To Hio: The Great Learning, University of Washington Bookstore, 1928.
  • Confucius: Digest of the Analects, edited and published by Giovanni Scheiwiller, 1937.
  • Odon Por, Italy's Policy of Social Economics, 1930-1940, Istituto Italiano D'Arti Grafiche (Bergamo, Milan and Rome), 1941.
  • (Translator into Italian, with Alberto Luchini) Ta S'eu Dai Gaku Studio Integrale, [Rapallo], 1942.
  • Confucius, The Great Digest [and] The Unwobbling Pivot, New Directions, 1951.
  • Confucius, Analects, Kasper & Horton (New York), 1951, published as The Confucian Analects, P. Owen, 1956, Square $ Series, 1957.
  • The Translations of Ezra Pound, edited by Hugh Kenner, New Directions, 1953, enlarged edition published asTranslations, New Directions, 1963.
  • The Classic Anthology, Defined by Confucius, Harvard University Press, 1954.
  • Richard of St. Victor, Pensieri sull'amore, [Milan], 1956.
  • Enrico Pea, Moscardino, All' lnsegna del Pesce d'Oro (Milan), 1956.
  • Sophocles, Women of Tiachis (play; produced in New York at Living Theatre, June 22, 1960), Spearman, 1956, New Directions, 1957.
  • Rimbaud, All' Insegna del Pesce d'Oro, 1957.
  • (With Noel Stock) Love Poems of Ancient Egypt, New Directions, 1962.


  • (And contributor) Des Imagistes (anthology; published anonymously), A. & C. Boni, 1914.
  • (And contributor) Catholic Anthology, 1914-1915, Elkin Mathews, 1915.
  • Passages from the Letters of John Butler Yeats, Cuala Press, 1917.
  • Ernest Hemingway, In Our Time, Three Mountains Press, 1924.
  • The Collected Poems of Harry Crosby, Volume Four, Torchbearer, [Paris], 1931.
  • Guido Cavalcanti, Rime, Marsano (Genoa), 1932.
  • Profiles (anthology), [Milan], 1932.
  • (And contributor) Active Anthology, Faber, 1933.
  • Ernest Fenollosa, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, Square $ Series, 1935.
  • (With Marcella Spann) Confucius to Cummings: An Anthology of Poetry, New Directions, 1964.


  • The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound, edited by Ira B. Nadel, Cambridge University Press (New York, NY), 1998.

Contributor to British Union Quarterly, Townsman, Hudson Review, National Review, New Age (under the pseudonym Alfred Venison), and other periodicals. Also wrote the score for "Le Testament," a ballet and song recital based on the poem by Francois Villon, 1919-21, first produced in its entirety at Gian Carlo Menotti's Festival of Two Worlds, Spoleto, July 14, 1965; wrote opera, "Villon," in the early 1920s, portions performed in Paris, 1924, and broadcast on the B.B.C., 1931 and 1962; wrote an unfinished opera, "Cavalcanti"; composer of several short pieces for the violin; transcribed medieval troubadour songs.

Further Reading


  • Albright, Daniel, Quantum Poetics: Yeats, Pound, Eliot, and the Science of Modernism, Cambridge University Press, 1997.
  • Alexander, Michael, The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound, University of California Press, 1979.
  • Bernstein, Michael, The Tale of the Tribe: Ezra Pound and the Modern Verse Epic, Princeton University Press, 1980.
  • Carson, Luke, Consumption and Depression in Gertrude Stein, Louis Zukofsky, and Ezra Pound, St. Martin's Press, 1998.
  • Cheadle, Mary Paterson, Ezra Pound's Confucian Translations, University of Michigan Press, 1997.
  • Comens, Bruce, Apocalypse and After: Modern Strategy and Postmodern Tactics in Pound, Williams, and Zukofsky, University of Alabama Press, 1995.
  • Concise Dictionary of American Literary Biography: The Twenties, 1917-1929, Gale, 1989.
  • Conover, Anne, Olga Rudge and Ezra Pound: 'What Thou Lovest Well...', Yale University Press, 2002.
  • Contemporary Literary Criticism, Gale, Volume 1, 1973, Volume 2, 1974, Volume 3, 1975, Volume 4, 1976, Volume 5, 1976, Volume 7, 1977, Volume 10, 1979, Volume 13, 1980, Volume 18, 1981, Volume 34, 1985, Volume 48, 1988, Volume 50, 1988.
  • Coyle, Michael, Ezra Pound. Popular Genres, and the Discourse of Culture, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1995.
  • Dennis, Helen May, A New Approach to the Poetry of Ezra Pound, Mellen, 1996.
  • Dictionary of Literary Biography, Gale, Volume 4:American Writers in Paris, 1920-1939, 1980, Volume 45:American Poets, 1880-1945, First Series, 1986, Volume 63:Modern American Critics, 1920-1955, 1988.
  • Eliot, T. S., Ezra Pound: His Metric and Poetry, Knopf, 1917.
  • Emig, Rainer, Modernism in Poetry: Motivation, Structures, and Limits, Longman, 1996.
  • Findley, Timothy, The Trials of Ezra Pound, Blizzard, 1994.
  • Froula, Christine, A Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Poems, New Directions, 1982.
  • Gibson, Mary Ellis, Epic Reinvented: Ezra Pound and the Victorians, Cornell University Press, 1995.
  • Ginsberg, Allen, Allen Verbatim: Lectures on Poetry, Politics, Consciousness, McGraw, 1975.
  • Grieve, Thomas F., Ezra Pound's Early Poetry and Poetics, University of Missouri Press, 1997.
  • Hall, Donald, Remembering Poets, Harper, 1978.
  • Homberger, Eric, editor, Ezra Pound: The Critical Heritage, Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1972.
  • Howe, Elisabeth A., The Dramatic Monologue, Twayne Publishers, 1996.
  • Hsieh, Ming, Ezra Pound and the Appropriation of Chinese Poetry: Cathay, Translation, and Imagism, Garland, 1998.
  • Joseph, Terri Brint, Ezra Pound's Epic Variations: The Cantos and Major Long Poems, University of Maine, 1995.
  • Kearns, George, Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Cantos, Rutgers University Press, 1980.
  • Kenner, Hugh, The Poetry of Ezra Pound, New Directions, 1950.
  • Kenner, Hugh, The Pound Era, University of California Press, 1971.
  • Kyburz, Mark, Voi Altri Pochi: Ezra Pound and His Audience, Birkhauser Verlag, 1996.
  • Morrison, Paul, The Poetics of Fascism: Esra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Paul de Man, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Morrison, Paul, The Poetics of Fascism: Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot, Paul de Man, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Perelman, Bob, The Trouble with Genius: Reading Pound, Joyce, Stein, and Zukofsky, University of California Press, 1994.
  • Perkins, David, A History of Modern Poetry: From the 1890's to the High Modernist Mode, Harvard University Press, 1976.
  • Perloff, Marjorie, The Dance of the Intellect: Studies in the Poetry of the Pound Tradition, Northwestern University Press, 1996.
  • Poetry Criticism, Volume 4, Gale, 1992.
  • Pound, Ezra, Drafts and Fragments: Cantos CX-CXVII, New Directions, 1968.
  • Pound, Ezra, Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, edited and with an introduction by T. S. Eliot, New Directions, 1954.
  • Pound, Ezra, Pound/Joyce: The Letters of Ezra Pound to James Joyce, edited by Forrest Read, New Directions, 1967.
  • Pound, Ezra, Selected Poems, edited and with an introduction by T. S. Eliot, Faber & Gwyer, 1928, Laughlin, 1957.
  • Pound, Ezra, Selected Prose, 1909-1965, edited by William Cookson, New Directions, 1973.
  • Pound, Ezra, The Spirit of Romance, Dent, 1910, New Directions, 1952, revised edition, P. Owen, 1953.
  • Qian, Zhaoming, Orientalism and Modernism : the Legacy of China in Pound and Williams, Duke University Press, 1995.
  • Rae, Patricia, The Practical Muse: Pragmatist Poetics in Hulme, Pound, and Stevens, Bucknell University Press, 1997.
  • Shioji, Ursula, Ezra Pound's Pisan Cantos and the Noh, P. Lang, 1998.
  • Singh, G., Ezra Pound as Critic, St. Martin's Press, 1994.
  • Stoicheff, Peter, The Hall of Mirrors : Drafts & Fragments and the End of Ezra Pound's Cantos, University of Michigan Press, 1995.
  • Sutton, Walter, editor, Pound, Thayer, Watson, and the Dial: A Story in Letters, University Press of Florida, 1994.
  • Tiffany, Daniel, Radio Corpse: Imagism and the Cryptaesthetic of Ezra Pound, Harvard University Press, 1995.
  • Whittier-Feruson, John, Framing Pieces: Designs of the Gloss in Joyce, Woolf, and Pound, Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Wilhelm, James J., Ezra Pound: The Tragic Years, 1925-1972, Pennsylvania State University Press, 1994.
  • Wilson, Peter, A Preface to Ezra Pound, Longman, 1996.
  • World Literature Criticism, Gale, 1992.


  • Atlantic Monthly, January 1993, p. 127.
  • Bloomsbury Review, May 1995, p. 29.
  • London Review of Books, January 26, 1995, p. 20.
  • Los Angeles Times Book Review, March 31, 1996, p. 2.
  • Newsweek, November 13, 1972.
  • New Yorker, August 15, 1994, p. 79.
  • New York Times, July 9, 1972; November 2, 1972; November 4, 1972; November 5, 1972.
  • New York Times Book Review, March 20, 1994, p. 18.
  • Parnassus, Volume 20, 1995, p. 55.
  • Publishers Weekly, November 13, 1972; January 31, 1994, p. 72; April 25, 1994, p. 62; January 15, 1996, p. 451.
  • Smithsonian, December 1995, p. 112.
  • Time, November 13, 1972.
  • Times Literary Supplement, February 7, 1992, p. 7; June 26, 1992, p. 23.
  • Tribune Books, August 14, 1994, p. 5.
  • Writer's Digest, February 1996, p. 12.*


Translated By Ezra Pound

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LIFE SPAN 1885–1972

Ezra Pound


Of all the major literary figures in the twentieth century, Ezra Pound has been one of the most controversial; he has also been one of modern poetry's most important contributors. In an introduction to the Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, T. S. Eliot declared that Pound "is more responsible for the twentieth-century revolution in poetry than is any other individual." Four decades later, Donald Hall reaffirmed in remarks collected . . .

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