CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION
A first version of Canto VI was in all probability drafted during Pound's trip to Southern France with his wife Dorothy in the summer of 1919. The first news of its completion is in a letter to his father sent on 22 November of that year. Canto VI was part of a group, together with cantos V and VII: Pound wanted this triad to be published as a whole, wherever possible. He sent it by December to Liveright and in March 1920 to The Dial, together with canto IV. The editors of The Dial published IV in June 1920, but waited for a whole year before publishing the next three. Cantos V-VII appeared in the August 1921 issue of the Dial under the title Three Cantos. Liveright's volume, Poems 1918-1921, was published in December.
This first version of canto VI is significant because it is here that Pound introduces excerpts from historical letters for the first time, antedating the Malatesta Cantos by three years. The canto is also not as condensed, which throws considerable light on obscure passages and Pound's reliance on sources in the poem as we now have it.
Canto VI was published with very few layout modifications in A Draft of XVI Cantos, in 1925.
In A Draft of XXX Cantos, (Paris: Hours Press 1930), a new, significantly shorter version of Canto VI replaced the old. Instead of insisting on the political machinations of the Plantagenets and the Capetians, their permanent wars and flimsy treaties, Pound shifts the weight of the poem from war to love, following the poetry of the troubadours and their female patrons, focusing on Eleanor d'Aquitaine and Cunizza da Romano. Pound gives examples, echoes, and pastiches of troubadour poetry from its beginnings in Guillaume de Poitiers (Eleanor's grandfather) to Bernart de Ventadour (her contemporary), with echoes from Bertran de Born and Arnaut Daniel (active at the time of Eleanor's sons, Henry and Richard) to Sordello, an Italian poet who wrote in Provençal but who can be considered transitional from the troubadours to the Italian dolce stil nuovo and active in the first half of the 13th century. This important reworking, which ended up by giving us two cantos six, is probably due to Pound's readings on the Da Romano family and his re-editing of The Spirit of Romance around 1927-1929.
The poem annotated in The Cantos Project is the final, second version of this canto. For the first version, please check "Cantos in periodicals" here.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
|L/HP||Ezra Pound To His Parents: Letters 1895-1929. Eds. Mary de Rachewiltz, A David Moody and Joanna Moody. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010.|
|L/JQ||The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound to John Quinn: 1915-1924. Ed. Timothy Materer. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991.|
|L/TW||Pound, Thayer, Watson, & The Dial. A Story in Letters. Ed. W. Sutton. UP of Florida, 1994.|
To Homer Pound, 22 November 1919
[...] As Liveright never answers a letter. Please phone that I have three new cantos done. THUS there is enough matter for American edition of poems, as follows.
Homage to Propertius
Cantos IV, V, and VI (possibly VI and VII, by the time matter is settled). Same size vol as English Q.P.A.
Liveright's agent wrote asking if they could import Q.P.A., you understand that the first three cantos are in Knopf's Lustra, therefore the English sheets of Q.P.A. can not be sold in America.
Note: Q.P.A. - Quia Pauper Amavi [I was poor when I loved] - volume of poems published by the Egoist Press in 1919.
To John Quinn, 24 November 1919
I have finished Canto VI.; W.L. much distressed by my preoccupation of the century; which is I admit very unfortunate from point of view of immediate impact on general public. W.L. does not however offer a better alternative. I cant knock off a super Madame Bovary in pentameter in a fortnight. Art is not only long but bloody slow.
Proofs not there YET, but that is affair not mine. Fleishman writes that they want my next USA vol. of poems. It will be the same as Q. P. A. with new Cantos for old.
To Homer Pound, 13 December 1919
[...] Have done cantos 5, 6, and 7, each more incomprehensible than the one preceding it; dont know what's to be done about it. Liveright says he is ready to bring out vol. of poems. Shall put Propertius first and follow by 'Langue d'oc and Cantos IV to VII, book about the same size as Q.P.A.
Note: The volume produced by Liveright is Poems 1918-21 and was published in 1921.
To Scofield Thayer, 24 March, 1920
L/TW 18; BT 301
Queery, would you have printed Fenollosa's essay on The Chinese Written Character? Do you want serious contributions to thought... or merely second hand jaw? Mr. Quinn implies you want my verse rather than my prose. I [am] send[ing] [sep. cover] four cantos. Canto IV is o.k. by itself, Cantos V.VI.VII shd. appear together as the Lorenzacchio [sic] Medici begins in V. and ends the VII.
I shouldn't insist on their being printed all together, but it wd. be better. It wd. also affirm my connection with the magazine, as I shd. not print this long poem in any paper which I was not backing. There are not likely to be more than two cantos each year, the rest of my stuff wd. be shorter poems (or prose if wanted).
From Scofield Thayer, 30 March 1920
Beinecke, YCAL 43, Box 13/581
Thank you for the verses. Canto IV is now in the press and will appear in our June issue. Cantos V, VI, and VII we are returning to you.
To IWP, 30 Sept 1920
[…] Sent mss. of new vol. poems to Liveright two days ago. Also mss. of Cantos V-VII to dad.
To John Quinn, 9 October 1920
C. re Liveright. I have sent the rest of copy for
It contains the Imperium Romanum (Propertius)
The Middle Ages (Provence)
And cantos IV-VII,
It is all I have done since 1916, and my most important book, I at any rate think Canto VII the best thing I have done;
If America won’t have it, then Tant Pisssss as the French say. I have my answer, and it means twenty more years of Europe, perhaps permanent stay here.
[…] At any rate the three portraits, falling into a Trois Contes scheme, plus the Cantos, which come out of the middle of me and are not a mask, are what I have to say, and the first formed book of poem[s] I have made. Lustra being, I admit, simpler and more understandable.
To Homer Pound, 30 July 1921
[…] By the time you get this Cantos shd. have appeared in Dial. (cantos V-VII)
To Felix E. Schelling, 8 July 1922
SL 180, L 247
[…] Perhaps as the poem goes on I shall be able to make various things clearer. Having the crust to attempt a poem in 100 or 120 cantos long after all mankind has been commanded never again to attempt a poem of any length, I have to stagger as I can.
The first 11 cantos are preparation of the palette. I have to get down all the colours or elements I want for the poem. Some perhaps too engmatically and abbreviatedly. I hope, heaven help me, to bring them into some sort of design and architecture later.
To Dorothy Pound, Tuesday [7 August 1923]
Lilly Library, Pound mss. III, Box 1
Wrote to Agnes the other day, but you neednt bother about those items. Unless she finds the little book about Henry Plantagenet, and Louis VII, one that I had in Thoulllouzhe.
From Dorothy Pound, 8 August 1923
Lilly Library, Pound mss. III, Box 1
Dearest Ming, rescued Ph August book & Divus’ Odysseea from flat when I (at last) saw Bedford yesterday.
1927 - 1929
A sum of events starting around 1927 suggests the nature of the changes in canto VI: the addition of the lines about Cunizza da Romano and her freeing the slaves of her brothers, Ezzelino and Alberico.
In 1927, Manlio Dazzi gives Pound a copy of his translation into Italian of Albertino Mussato’s play Ecerinis (written in Latin, 1314) (Casella 79).
Around this date, references to “Giovan Battista Verci’s Storia della Marca Trivigina in ten volumes (1786-91) and the Storia degli Eccelini in two volumes, followed by the third volume, the collection of official documents known as Codice Diplomatico Ecceliniano (1179)” show up in Pound’s Notebooks, nos. 9 and 12 (Casella 77-78).
Pound revises the Spirit of Romance around 1929 and adds notes and intratextual comments to his 1910 text. One of them registers his astonishment at the modernity of William IX’s poetry and may well be the seed that redirected the canto from a chronicle of the Plantagenets' wars presented in contrast with the generous spirit of Bernart de Ventadour, to a very selective history of troubadour poetry and its passage into Italy in Sordello’s time. Pound emphasizes the quality of poetry to be a resister to power, an affirmation of freedom, love, generosity, and compassion against war, greed, imprisonment and abuse.
When revising SR, Pound included a note on Mussato and Dazzi’s translation (SR 132). A reference to Mussato appears also in How to Read (1929 in LE 29).
Dazzi and Pound share the editing of Cavalcanti’s Rime. The volume is dedicated to Dazzi and the dedication runs: “A /Manlio Dazzi che ha mangiato ‘Ai Dodici Apostoli’/ e con me diviso le fatiche di quest’ edizione/ (1928-31)" (Casella 79). Cunizza's manumission act happened in 1265 in Guido Cavalcanti's house, another luminous detail that impressed Pound.
Casella observes that Pound knew about Sordello, Cunizza, and Ezzelino from his early literary readings of Browning and Dante at the beginning of the century. But only through his more historiographical perusal of Mussato, Verci, and possibly Rolandino at the end of the 1920s did Cunizza become a figure and symbol in the Cantos. Mussato’s play left a deep impression on Pound, witness his references of 1929 in his critical prose and his later introduction of Ezzelino in Canto 72. While Mussato concentrated on Cunizza’s brothers, their cruelty and their punishment, Cunizza’s manumission act in the house of Cavalcanti, which Pound found in Verci, appeared all the more miraculous and would lead to her deification as a symbol of freedom, humaneness and mercy in Pound’s later canon.