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 CANTO I 

Pound's journey through history begins with canto 1, which translates a passage in the Odyssey in which Odysseus travels to the underworld to speak with Tiresias. Like Odysseus, Pound seeks knowledge, and he seeks it in the minds of men long dead. He cannot speak to them directly, as Odysseus does, but their ghosts remain, nevertheless, if only in the words of old books. Pound begins The Cantos with a concrete representation of the way in which language contains the past. On one of his earliest trips to Paris he had picked up a Renaissance translation of the Odyssey, by Andreas Divus, published in 1538, and it is this version that he himself translated in canto 1. However, in translating it, he chose to use poetic conventions derived from Old English verse. Pound knew that the shape of Odysseus's quest has survived through millenia, but he also knew that the means for its survival has been a long series of metamorphoses into the particular words of new places, new times. If we would seek ancient visions, we must seek them wherever they have reappeared in the matter of successive cultures, and in canto I Pound reveals the complex filter of language and changing culture which is nevertheless his only way of viewing the past. 

From: James Knapp. Ezra Pound. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1979. 137.


 

READINGS 

 Pound old  buntinglargejpg

 Ezra Pound
Washington D.C., June 1958 

(Penn Sound Archive)

Basil Bunting
Newcastle, 1977 

(Penn Sound Archive)

 Oisin Breen

 

Oisin Breen
University of Edinburgh, 2012
mp3

Paul Cunningham
Scottish Poetry Library
Edinburgh, 2 February 2017

 Copyright © 1934, 1968 by Ezra Pound. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.

 

 


 

 

CANTO I STEMMA

canto 1 stemma

 

REFERENCE

Taylor, Richard Dean. [Stemma Canto I]. "The History and State of the Texts." In A Poem Containing History. Textual Studies in The Cantos. Ed. Lawrence S. Rainey. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan Press, 1997. 247.

 


 

 

 CANTO I

 

 

 

Screenshot 2017 02 26 04.28.08

canto 1

 

 




 

Canto I in A Draft of XVI Cantos.
Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1925.
Illustrations by Henry Strater.

Canto I in A Draft of XXX Cantos.
Paris: Hours Press, 1930.
Capitals by Dorothy Pound.
Note: The above images are not to scale. The 1925 edition is a folio, whereas the 1930 one is pocket-size.

 


 

 

canto 1 1964

 

 

 

CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION

 

CANTO I

 

First published in A Draft of XVI Cantos, Three Mountains Press, 1925

[for a more comprehensive Calendar, please consult the one for Three Cantos]

 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

  A  “Annals.” Variorum Edition of Three Cantos. A Prototype. Ed. Richard Taylor. Bayreuth: Boomerang, 1991. 
  L  The Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D.D. Paige. London: Faber, 1951

 

To Kate Buss 12 May 1923

L 256

The three Mts. Is following this prose series by a dee looks edtn of my Cantos (about 16 of ‘em, I think) of UNRIVALLED magnificence. Price 25 dollars per copy, and 50 and 100 bones for Vellum and illuminateds.
           It is to be one of the real bits of printing; modern book to be jacked up to somewhere near level of mediaeval mss. No Kelmscott mess of illegibility. Large clear type, but also large pages, and specially made capitals.
        Marse Henry [Strater] doing these; and the sketches already done are A-1.
Not for the Vulgus. There’ll only be about 60 copies for sale; and about 15 more for the producers.

 

To Dorothy Pound, [13 July 1923] 

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 20

Am rewriting the first three cantos; trying to weed out and clarify; etc, a BHloody JHobb.

 

To Dorothy Pound, [17 July 1923]

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 20

also have been trying to rewrite Cants I. II. III. so haven't been back to museum myself.

 

From Dorothy Pound, [21? July 1923]

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 21

Dearest Mao

                    Have found Roscoe's Life of L. De Medici in the library - with the poems at the end: they are most charming. Am copying a word or two of Roscoe's for you re earlier subjects than Lorenzo.

            Are you wise to be already revising the first Cantos? Don't kill them.

 

To Dorothy Pound, [23 July 1923]

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 21

     Re Cantos, I shdnt, have started revising if it hadn't been for the edtn? de LOOKS; probably no harm, I have now a sense of form that I hadn't in 1914, (very annoying, in some ways). Also I shd have rested a few months before tackling it. May save time in the end. Anyhow, anything I leave out can be restored later from earlier edtns, if needed. With sense of form, very difficult to get it all in, hodge podge, etc,

 

To Dorothy Pound, [25 July 1923]

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 21

     Have started some sort of revision; cuts down the opening to two cantos instead of three, beginning with Odysseus descent into Nekuia, and doing the Browning item after that, with Bacchus ship as second canto. & then the miscelany. & then 4. 5 etc. Also various repetitions, even in later cantos, can go. Mostly its too cluttered.

 

From Dorothy Pound, 28th [July 1923]

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 21

     HE not entirely rewrite those early cantos: or HE'll lose the life in them: She's coming back soon to put a stop to it!

 

To Dorothy Pound, [1] Aug. [1923] 

Lilly Library Pound mss., III, Box 1; A 21

     Ugh, have got draft of first three cantos done.

[…]

Did I ask you to bring Divus, latin Odyssey. Anyhow please do. Have been going through Ovid again.

 


 Tiresias

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

 ARTICLES ON CANTO I

  1.  D'Epiro, Peter. "Italian translation of Canto I by Ezra Pound." Journal of Italian Translation 9.1/2 (Spring & Fall 2014): 88-95 [headnote on 88-91, facing-page translation on 92-95]. Free online
  2. Fournier, Michael. “A Note on the Ell-Square Pitkin.” Paideuma 14.2-3 (1985): 289-290.
  3. Gelpi, Albert. "The Map for the Periplum: Canto 1 as Archetypal Schema." American Poetry 1.2 (1984): 49-59. Print.
  4. Gelpi, Albert. [Canto I]. A Coherent Splendour. The American Poetic Renaissance 1910-1950. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987. 188-189.
  5. Glenn, E. M. "A Guide to Ezra Pound's Cantos (I-IV)." The Analyst I (March 1953): 1-7.
  6. Glenn, E. M. "A Guide to CANTO I of Ezra Pound (Revised and Enlarged)." The Analyst 8 (June 1955): 1-10.
  7. Glenn, Edgar M. "Serendipitous Aphrodite in Ezra Pound's Canto I." Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 27.2-3 (1998): 9-49. Print.
  8. Kahane, Ahuvia. "Blood for Ghosts? Homer, Ezra Pound, and Julius Africanus." New Literary History 30.4 (Autumn 1999): 815-836. Free online.

  9. Karchalios, Evan R. "Sacrifice and Selectivity in Ezra Pound's First Canto." Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 24.1 (1995): 95-106. Print. 
  10. McMahon, Robert. "Homer/Pound's Odysseus and Virgil/Dante's Ulysses: Pound's First Canto and the Commedia." Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 16.3 (1987): 67-75. Print.
  11. Moody, David A. "Cantos I and III." Agenda 21.1 (1979-1980): 65-79.
  12. O'Hear, Anthony. "Listening to the Dead." The Fortnightly Review, February 3, 2010. Free online.
  13. Riikonen, Hannu K. "Andreas Divus, Ezra Pound and the fate of Elpenor." Interlitteraria VII (2008): 138-147. Print.
  14. Shen, Fan A. "Yijing and Pound's Cantos (1 & 2)." Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 23.2-3 (1994): 45-70. Print.

 

BOOK CHAPTERS

  1. Cookson, William. “I. Nekuia.” In A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2001. 1-5. 
  2. Dennis, Helen. Canto One. In  A New Approach to the Poetry of Ezra Pound Through the Medieval Provençal Aspect. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Pres, 1996. 330-336.
  3. Froula, Christine. A Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Poems. New York: New Directions, 1983. 128-132.
  4. Rainey, Lawrence Scott, ed. Modernism. An Anthology. Oxford: Blackwell, 2005. 62-63.
  5. Terrell, Carroll F. Canto I. In A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993. 1-4.
  6. Thurston, Michael. The Underworld in Twentieth Century Poetry. London: Palgrave, 2009. 29-34.

 

DIGITAL RESOURCES

  1. Bressan, Eloisa. Canto I. In Il Vortice Greco-Provenzale nell'inferno de I Cantos. MA Thesis. U di Padova, 2012. 33-58. Free online.
  2. "On Canto I." Modern American Poetry. Eds. Cary Nelson and B. Brinkman.  MAPS on Canto I.
  3. Sellar, Gord. "Ezra Poundings - The Reboot." Blog, 14 February 2012. Free online.
  4. Sellar Gord. Blogging Pound's The Cantos: Canto I. Blog, 21 February 2012. Free online.