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Isplays some of his finest and most affecting writing marking an elegaic turn to the personal while synthesizing the philosophical and economic political themes of his previous cantos They are now being published for the first time as a separate paperback in a fully annotated edition prepared by Richard Sieburth who also contributes a thoroughgoing introduction making Pound's master work fully accessible to students and general reader. ATTN Lieutenant Colonel John L Steele7103rd Disciplinary Training CompanyUnited States Army Metato ItalyJune 15 1945Re Ezra Weston Loomis Pound After a thorough examination of Ezra Weston Loomis Pound s mental state it is my professional opinion that while the patient displays no paranoia delusions nor hallucinations and there is no evidence of psychosis neurosis or psychopathy his prolonged exposure in present environment may precipitate a mental breakdown of which premonitory symptoms are discernible XIV It is my recommendation that the prisoner be moved immediately to suitable uarters and a transfer to the United States or to an institution in this theatre with adeuate facilities for care XIV be considered I am basing my conclusion of the patient s current mental state on several complicated factors that I ask you to consider First the patient is highly intelligent and imaginative The patient has granted me access to his journal which though at first I found to be nearly incomprehensible has provided valuable insight into his mind after a close and careful reading For example the patient is fluent in numerous languages including ancient Greek has a strong grasp of Chinese ideograms and is able to maintain coherence of thought while abruptly switching from one language to the next In one section of his Cantos as he calls this journal he writes of a sort of dwarf morning glory that knots in the grass which he follows with the medical term for psychological injury seuelae 37 38 The patient believes he has suffered great psychological trauma and is thus using this passage to express his pain through the image of a small beautiful flower which may represent himself being tangled in a field of grass which may be significant as he has been detained in cramped exposed conditions He goes on to write in French Le paradis n est pas artificiel paradise is not artificial 38 which in my opinion is his way of expressing that he still has a hope for the future and that his happiness is attainable He also seems to recognize that he is suffering tremendous psychological stress when he writes States of mind are inexplicable to us 38 but then follows in ancient Greek with dakruon tears or weeping repeated three times as if he is painfully aware how his present psychological state is affecting him emotionally Second the patient is a highly empathetic individual as evidenced in these Cantos with astute observations of idiomatic speech such as his mimicry of the black prisoners one of which he transcribes as saying Hey Snag what s in the bibl what are the books of the bibl Name em Don t bullshit me 51 but also of his obscure observations of birds sitting on electrical wires which he interprets and transcribes as musical notation with 8 birds on a wire or rather on 3 wires 63 Far from turning inward and morose the patient is keenly aware of every sensation and stimulation around him but like a SCR 300 used by our Signal Corps which is somehow tuned to every open channel the patient s mind seems to be like a new Signal Corps Private who is frantically trying to transpose everything coming in over that SCR 300 receiver faithfully but due to the sheer volume of information is experiencing enormous stress in trying to keep up If I may be as bold as to sound poetic it is as if the patient were tuned into the radio broadcast of all human civilization across all time and space and wants to make sense of it all not only for himself but for everyone aliveLastly the patient retains a firm sense of self in that he expresses very strong opinions about Jews the economy and has even reuested a meeting with President Truman concerning the state of the Japanese campaign While this may sound alarming and does seem to reek of arrogance and the grandiose his opinions remain consistent strangely coherent and while often reprehensible and perhaps even treasonous do not seem to so far present an imminent threat to himself or others Therefore it is my professional opinion that Ezra Weston Loomis Pound is not insane he is just an incredibly talented poet These two conditions are easily confused

characters The Pisan Cantos

The Pisan Cantos

S modernist epic The Cantos themselves conceived as a Divine Comedy for our time The Pisan Cantos were published in 1948 by New Directions and in the following year were awarded the Bollingen Prize for poetry by the Library of Congress The honor came amid violent controversy for the dark cloud of treason still hung over Pound incarcerated in St Elizabeths Hospital for the Criminally Insane Yet there is no doubt that The Pisan Cantos d. The only reason I decided to dock a star from this book is because of how bloody difficult it wasPound continues to both fascinate and frustrate me However when he is good he is really on the money The Pisan Cantos is probably the most well known and celebrated and controversial section of Pound s masterpiece epic The Cantos but many scholars would also argue that it s one of his best My personal favorites were Canto 79 the lynx Canto Canto 81 the most famous one with the well known pull down thy vanity section and Canto 83 Arrested at the end of WWII by Italian partisans partigiani Pound was suddenly forcibly removed from his house and put into captivity at the US Military s Detention Training Center DTC in Pisa where he wrote these famous cantos Pound was put in a death cell or what he also calls a gorilla cage completely open and exposed to the elements and a bright light shining on his cell at night Eventually Pound had a nervous breakdown when like Odysseus his raft broke and the waters went over him Pound was arrested for his radio broadcasts conducted while Mussolini was still in power He was openly fascist in his political views but what probably got him in really hot water was his criticism of the American financial system and his scathing attacks on people like FDR When The Pisan Cantos finally published in the late 1940s went on to win the very first ever Bollinger Prize it caused a great amount of protest outcry and downright indignation How could a fascist or traitor be awarded such a prize for literature many people said Well do you judge a poet on his controversial political beliefs or just on the uality of his poetry Some say the two can never be separated that they are invariably intertwined I disagree I am not a fascist in fact I probably lie at the opposite end of Pound s political spectrum Nonetheless I did enjoy this book for the most part It was not easy I struggled as most people do when they read Pound with his incredibly dense esoteric references to Confucius Homer Plato Dante Cavalcanti Yeats and the list goes on and to make it even difficult uotes famous writers poets and philosophers in their original language which means sometimes ancient Greek Latin Provencal Chinese French medieval French German and so on However this edition by Richard Sieburth contains excellent endnotes which admittedly are not exhaustive ie they do not explain everything in the book but they enable the patient reader to navigate the wild rapids of Pound s modernist poetry which includes references uotes a large number of proper nouns mostly people Pound knew or read and other explanations of the text While I admire Pound s poetry and writing and high level of esoteric knowledge it annoys me how he makes the text deliberately difficult for the average reader which is probably why he is often considered as pretentious And this assessment is not exactly wrong I would say However as one Yale professor said the reason he doesn t offer us any references or notes himself is probably because he wants us to sit in the library and experience the same joy that he did uncovering various pieces of information decoding ancient texts and coming to our own explicationsThis book is not for the faint of heart It demands patience and commitment But if you decide to read it you will come out the other side a changed person as is the case with any great art and it becomes addictive You will then want to pick it up againsome dayonce you have recovered from the initial reading experienceEzra Pound there is nobody uite like him in all of literature Headstrong hardworking extremely prolific extremely foolish to borrow a word WCW was wont to use to describe him in his political views but also someone you MUST one day confront if you are serious about discussing modern or modernist literature

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Ezra Pound's The Pisan Cantos was written in 1945 while the poet was being held in an American military detention center near Pisa Italy as a result of his pro Fascist wartime broadcasts to America on Radio Rome Imprisoned for some weeks in a wire cage open to the elements Pound suffered a nervous collapse from the physical and emotional strain Out of the agony of his own inferno came the eleven cantos that became the sixth book of hi. Has a exasperating book of poetry ever been written Unlike the Pound in his earlier Cantos Ez gets his head out of his political ass most probably because Ben and la Clara have been hung Ezra s political calculation have proven to be as astute as his nostalgic craving for state financing so we all may be rid of usury hey the Athenian state financed the building of the fleetPound brilliance and years of study do not and will never adhere The tragedy is not in the peasant s bent shoulders but in Pound s own If the naval battle of Salamis seems a far fetched connection to usury and Mussolini perhaps less than relevant well it s no surpriseBut the beauty of this book is in watching the grand battle between Pound s political and philosophical obsessions the shades of the dead moving among his many memories and finally most importantly the wondrous way the moment intrudes in his writing Where I lie let the thyme rise and basilicum let the herbs rise in April abundant 82 106 08Thank the gods for his enlightened moments when he brings us back to earth and most importantly compassion The first several books of the Pisan Cantos are of less interest to me because Pound still hasn t gotten out of his head Then in Canto 80 we get the first inklings when the tubercular shade of Aubrey Beardsley tells Yeats that beauty is difficultThe Canto builds to his brilliant mea culpa What though lovest well remains the rest is dross 81 134 35 And so in turn in the next section of the poem vanity is pulled down Here error is in the not done all in the diffidence that faltered 81 173 74I have to get to work but the last two Cantos 83 84 have some spectacular moments Pound is idiosyncratic annoying and obtuse Sometimes he is insane Other times he s a madman raving at the injustices of the world which is not the same If you want to read something modern that carries on Pound s tradition in a beautiful yet sensible way read Pictures from Brueghel by the wonderful William Carlos William But if you are dedicated to the chase you ignore Pound at your peril


10 thoughts on “The Pisan Cantos

  1. says:

    Has a exasperating book of poetry ever been written? Unlike the Pound in his earlier Cantos Ez gets his head out of his political ass most probably because Ben and la Clara have been hung Ezra's political calculation have proven to be as astute as his nostalgic craving for state financing so we all may be rid of usury hey the Athenian state financed the building of the fleetPound brilliance and years of study do not and will never adhere T

  2. says:

    The 5 stars is for the meticulous and informed edition including detailed notes and commentary As to the content I find poetry difficult and often tedious and this text was particularly difficult I can't say I un

  3. says:

    Perhaps the most insightful view of the malaise which overtook the world in the first half of the 20th century Pound's attempt to liken Europe after WWI and during WWII as a hell like Dante's Inferno creates an intensity and a viewpoint which has not been matched in the last 60 years

  4. says:

    The only reason I decided to dock a star from this book is because of how bloody difficult it wasPound continues

  5. says:

    I wanted to simultaneously rate this book 1 star and 5 stars Though the poem is at its heart a narrative about deep personal crisis it reuires too much from its reader On both the biographical and allusionistic not a word whatever planes the poem is incredibly obliue If you're willing to give up the time or in my case are forced to for class credit I think the poem can be incredibly rewarding Struggling with Pound's audience his

  6. says:

    'yet say this to the Possum a bang not a whimper with a bang not with a whimper To build the city of Dioce whose terraces are the colour of stars' I have tried to write ParadiseDo not moveLet the wind speakthat is paradiseLet the Gods forgive what Ihave madeLet those I love try to forgivewhat I have madeکوشیدم فردوس را رقم ز

  7. says:

    Would like to give two extra stars if possible for reading Sam Schild's used copy which is filled with good notes and has many of the ideograms filled out to resemble funny faces in hats

  8. says:

    ATTN Lieutenant Colonel John L Steele7103rd Disciplinary Training CompanyUnited States Army Metato ItalyJune 15 1945Re Ezra Weston Loomis Pound After a thorough examination of Ezra Weston Loomis Pound’s mental

  9. says:

    I am not going to rate this book because I feel unualified to give it a rating not because it is a classic but because I feel that m

  10. says:

    O lynx to review the words of a madmanEven one who is brilliant?αδύνατο

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