CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION CANTO IV
Canto IV was composed over a period of eight years, from 1915-1923. Since the publication of Christine Froula’s study, To Write Paradise (1984), we know more about the composition of Canto IV than that of any other canto.
Canto IV was first published in 1919, by John Rodker at his Ovid Press. Then Pound republished it in The Dial in April 1920. He revised it, adding a new ending, for A Draft of XVI Cantos in 1925.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
|A||“Annals.” Variorum Edition of Three Cantos. A Prototype. Ed. Richard Taylor. Bayreuth: Boomerang, 1991.|
Annals Online. ProtoVariorum Canto IV. Ed. Richard Dean Taylor. Taylor website.
See also Taylor in Paideuma 31 (2002): 318-344.
|F||Froula, Christine. “To Write Paradise…” Style and Error in Pound’s Cantos. New Haven: Yale UP, 1984.|
|L||The Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D. D. Paige. London: Faber, 1951.|
|L/HP||Ezra Pound Letters to His Parents, 1895-1929. Eds. Mary de Rachewiltz, A. David Moody, and J. Moody. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2011.|
|L/JL||Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters. Ed. David M. Gordon. New York: Norton, 1994.|
|L/JQ||The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and John Quinn 1915-1924. Ed Timothy Materer. Durham: Duke, 1991.|
|SL||The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D. D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1971.|
To Homer Pound, 18 December 1915
L/HP 360-61; A11
If you like the "Perigord" you would probably like Browning's "Sordello". [...]
It is a great work and worth the trouble of hacking it out.
I began to get it on about the 6th reading - though individual passages come up all right on the first reading.
It is probably the greatest poem in English. Certainly the best long poem in English since Chaucer. You'll have to read it sometime as my big long endless poem that I am now struggling with, starts off with a barrel full of allusions to "Sordello"- which will intrigue you if you haven’t read the other.
I must have the lot typed out & send it you as a much belated Xmas. – though I dare say the present version needs a lot done to it.
It will be two months at least before I can send it. - I suppose - as I dont want to muddle my mind now in the Vth canto - by typing the first three cantos - and I dont want to leave the only copy with a typist while I'm out of town.
Note. Canto IV already in draft before Pound goes to Stone Cottage on Tuesday, 21 December 1915.
MS Ur1: “MS Ur1 is a ninety-eight line passage in rough blank verse which has little more than ordinal place in common with the final canto. Aspiring to present ‘the modern world,’ it consists mainly in an English soldier’s account of his experience of World War I, spliced between allusions to Stendhal’s La Chartreuse de Parme and a cluster of images alluding to several religions. Unfinished and ungainly as it is, this composition is yet a remarkably solid ‘ideogram.’ It is not a jumble of images arbitrarily juxtaposed but an eloquent, if rough-hewn, expression of Pound’s intent to create a form in which poetry and history coincide” (F 15).
MS Ur1 was "typed on the versos of announcements for Miscio Itow’s program of Japanese dancing in October 28 and November 2 and 9, 1915" (F 56).
MS Ur2: “In the process of revising 'Three Cantos' during 1916-17, Pound composed a fragment which he temporarily intended as the fourth canto: MS Ur2, titled ‘III’ in the first and ‘IV’ in the second typescript draft of ‘Three Cantos.’ This poem may be read as an acknowledgment of the inadequacy of the 'Three Cantos' mode to Pound’s intentions and a groping first step toward the poetics of the final Canto IV" (F 18).
Note: Text of the MS Ur2 was published as Ur-IV in Posthumous Cantos (Bacigalupo 21)
MS AA: - This rough sketch, composed in haste on random scraps of paper with little care for niceties of style, has small verbal distinction. But crude as it is, it was the seed from which the final version of Canto IV grew. Its eighty-seven lines parallel events of classical myth and troubadour legend: Itys and Cabestan; the Trojan War and de Tierci’s war against the Dauphin of Auvergnat and Peire de Maensac, for whom de Tierci’s wife left him; Catullus 58, an urbanely bitter poem about Lesbia’s many lovers, and the story of Gaubertz de Poicebot, who left his wife to go to Spain and returned to find her a prostitute (F 22).
MS A-B. See discussion of the drafts in F 29-44.
MS B: "Like MS A, it is structurally inconclusive. But even though this draft is more pastiche than poem and contains some heterogeneous materials which Pound later discarded, its collage supplied some 'emotional colors' for the fuller spectrum he would arrange in MS C. Further, in MS A and MS B he established the structural conception of the poem as an ideogram of images, achieving an ‘extensive’ form for the ‘intensive’ Image which his ‘long imagiste or vorticist poem’ required" (F 44).
MS C: “In MS C, Canto IV reached what was essentially its final shape. This draft draws its material mainly from the two earlier typescript drafts while preserving their collage form. Pound omitted the Poicebot material, the ‘Air, fire’ lines, the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle material, the unsuccessful Troy/Auvergne parallel, and other, more minor details. He added the ‘Ply over ply’ passage, first drafted in fragments c1 and c2, and began to assimilate the elements of the ending, which continued to evolve until 1923” (F 44-45).
To Homer Pound, [April] 1919
Here is a draft <with a few annotations for you> of Fourth canto; not to be shown to anyone (save I.W.P. if she wishes to see it) Wont be printed until there is another bundle of three; Fifth is begun.
Have some hope of getting South. At least we have our passports, and a job lot of French bank notes.
Note: dating from collateral information in the letter. Pound had finished preparations for his trip to the South of France and would reach Toulouse by 23 April. IWP is Isabel Weston Pound, the poet's mother. Froula mentions that "the draft" is typescript MS C (F 46).
MS D – a clean typescript of MS C which shows only minor stylistic changes from MS C (F 46).
MS E: “The evolution of Canto IV did not prove quite complete with MS D, as he had expected; one more typescript draft followed before the poem’s first printing in October 1919. In this draft, MS E, he introduced an image which confronts poetic imagining with historical actualities; that of a modern day religious procession, inserted in MS E between the summary of themes and the Stefano/Guido image” (F 48). Pound would see this procession in honour of the Virgin in Toulouse during his trip and referred to it in the letter to his father below.
Note: Canto IV was privately printed by the Ovid Press on October 4, 1919, at about the time that the Lustra version of Three Cantos was being reprinted in Pauper ( 188).
To Homer Pound [late October 1919]
The Black cock is naturally a symbolical, black magical cock and not a Plymouth rock rooster hunting pebbles on the stern and cock-bound <hidebound> coast.
The worm of the procession had three large antennae, and I hope to develop the motive later, text clearly states that this vermiform object circulated in the crowd at Church of St. Nicholas in Toulouse. Not merely mediaeval but black central African superstition and vodoo energy squalling infant, general mirk and epileptic religious hog wash with chief totem being magnificently swung over whole.
Cock in barn-yard wd. not give hypernatural atmosphere to the passage. I prefer them purely apparitional.
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 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 Homer Pound, 20 May 1920
Dial is printing Canto IV but needs dynamite.
Note: Pound is asking his father to let The Dial have a look at Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. In June 1920, Canto IV appeared in The Dial in the form it was to take in Poems 1918-21 (Slatin 198).
To Isabel Pound, 30 September 1920
Sent mss. of new vol. poems to Liveright two days ago. All mss. of Cantos V-VII to dad.
Note: The new volume, Poems 1918-21 contained: Three Portraits and Four Cantos. The three portraits were Propertius, Langue d'oc / Moeurs Contemporaines and Hugh Selwyn Mauberley; the four cantos were cantos IV-VII.
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 Felix E. Schelling, 8 July 1922
SL 180, L 247
Sennin are the Chinese spirits of nature or of the air. I don't see that they are any worse than Celtic Sidhe.
Rokku is a mountain. I can perhaps emend the line and make that clearer, though "on" limits it to either a mountain or an island (an ambiguity which don't much matter at that point). The name and title indicate a French priest (as a matter of fact he is a Jesuit).
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.
MS F: “Retyping Canto IV for a Draft of XVI Cantos (1925), he added the closing lines: And we sit here…/there in the arena…’ which frame the canto’s vision, placing its illusion at a double remove, in an arena itself first evoked, then distanced” (F 49).
To Dorothy Pound, [23 July 1923]
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]
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.
To Dorothy Pound, 14 October 1923
Lilly Library, Pound mss. III, Box 1
Oh yes, did I ask if there was a Dial containing FOURTH canto; must have appeared about March 1921;
funny I seem to have seen a copy, and table of contents saying Fourth Canto, quite recently, but cant remember where. Seems to me Agnes did write something about it, too. Not of terrific importance, but wd. save copy of Liveright volume from being messed up by printer.
Soiseau seems to think he is going on with the edition.
To Dorothy Pound, 20 October 1923
Lilly Library, Pound mss. III, Box 1
Had dinner with Soiseau and Stef, other evening; measured out number of lines of cantos, for dummy. Also Leger has approved the section of XVI that deals with his account of Verdun.
Stef supplies troublesome details about Petrograd.
Golly has supplied Stef’s defective orthography.
Never mind about Dial containing Canto, IV; I have retyped it all.
To William Bird, 10 April 1924, Hotel Berchielli, Lungarno Firenze
Lilly Library William Bird mss. (Partially printed in L 257)
Dear Bill: Yrs. to D. to hand. There seems nothing to do but print 6o copies with Strater designs (or 70 copies) and the rest with plain red letters.
or better, let me have proofs of all designs to see how they have come out. 2 were O.K. (once).
I never sanctioned any loveknots in the lower right hand corner = I tried to get Mike to do something decent by confining him to the caps. Restricted space to intensify output.
The 'A' and the 'H' were O.K. in one stage, but the quality of the line wd. depend on final form. You understand I'm not worrying so long as I am absolootly helpless.
I do want at least ten copies either with plain red caps (all) or with plain red caps (some) and the Mike ornaments on the caps that have come out well.
My other letter was too brief, but I was trying to hold down to essentials.
I appreciate the quality of the printing - paper - presswork - everything that you have done.
But with some standing as art critic, I can't sanction all them damn curleycues & Mike's relapse into the same state of idiocyhe was in when I first found him. All you can now do is, I take it, to print some copies with Strater ornaments and some either wholly without 'em or with those that I can approve. For which purpose of approval, for XTs his sake send me proofs of all the ornaments NOW [proofs needn't be made on press].
Your position to Henry is that requests were recd. for certain copies PLAIN == that is if he ever learns that they exist - which he needn't = if he ever sees a plain one he can think it an accident or a request copy.
I take it he didn't see the result of the block making???
or did he.
The first small "T" was O.K. = the Demi-semi size = - that can stay in.
I think possibly yr. block maker may have contributed to the error - embedded in the shit of this age - he probably insisted on H's drawings looking like the Century for 1886. But damn the man - you had various things in decent style for him to look at.
Fortunately for the financial side the book collectors are probably no better judges than Henry is himself.
I take it that it is too late for me to communicate with H. In fact Transatlantic communications too cumbersome & plan to leave part of edition ornatified & part in ornate - or at any rate simplex munditiis - the best course.
At any rate my minimum demand is 20 copies that I can approve, i.e., with plain red caps in place of designs that to my mind offend. The' A' and the 'H' were O.K. in the last form I saw them in. The small ·'T' was excellent.
Have probably been god damn fool to trust design to man not working straight in medium. Only the lead blocks of black and white do occasionally come out extremely well. (And the small 'T' was O.K.)
Henry's emotional crises last summer of course of setting his train of thought & action.
About the 'P'. Can't have the tail to it in my copies. Print yr. 70 and then mutilate the block by removal of tail at line marked & omission of design. Or else use the old device of ordinary small cap in square.
Only do for gawd's sake BEAR in mind that I want nothing that will hit you financially & that I do appreciate your activity in the whole matter & that I am not indulging & will not indulge in any soul tantrums, romantic qualms, hysterias, etc.
Merely that I must have a few copies of the book that won't tum my stomach. As far as the collectors go, the value of the book will be only higher. There will be fewer ornamented copies and only those in the know will get the plain letter copies, author's approval & autograph. If the plain ones aren't snapped up at once, they will be sold at the tail end when the price has been raised ANNY HOWE. You said each sheet wd. be-what was it?-individual hawl, so that removal of ornament after 70 copies have been printed oughtn't to complicate yr. life very much.
Henry's last pathetic note was to the effect that he hoped to please me and that he didn't care a cuss about the subscribers.
& don't lets be dahn hearted.
To William Bird, 17 April 1924, Hotel Berchielli, Lungarno Firenze
Lilly Library W. Bird mss. (partially printed in L 258; SL 188)
Deer Bull: I had no intention of giving away 20 copies. I wanted 'em to be sold to people who won't stand Mike's illustrations and who will sit on my chest and bellyache about 'em tomorrow an' tomorrow an' tomorrow.
I enclose Mike's letter which might be taken as licence to eliminate superfluous muck--such as the love knot in lower right hand comer.
Also if we can't-for technical reasons have a few clean copies, it seems to me ALL the more reason for cutting away offending parts: I.E 1) the love knot; 2.) the tail of 'P '; and 3) the extra scene across top of page: P ----.
It will be perfectly easy to do this, = though I see [and saw] that it wd. probably be too difficult to effect composition of lines inside the loop of the'P.'
Mike is hopeless = I got him out of a slough he trembled - he was grateful "for a chance" - Then he led his private life through the summer - no blame attacking - only there was equally no chance of communicating with his reason.
He has now resigned from the arts & returned to NY = & he cant collaborate in the book - but I dont think he ever expected designs to go in until I had approved them.
And I certainly will be held responsible for the designs - having been associated with artists like Lewis, & Gaudier - & it being known to various people that I know something about the matter! The idea or lunacy was that Mike was a bum painter on canvass & cd. Never hope to paint a picture - It might be possible by concentrating his intelligence [hand pardon the abuse of that term] on a limited space - he cd do something-
He did several promising things - also the water down edge of A = which was very good -//
the only thing to do now is to cut away not only curly cue = it is not a phallus but a penis, an eunuch's penis = a thing that never had any significance save that of a piss tube -
The phallus is not the cock = It is the cock erect.
φaλos, φaλλos = object of worship - penis did not inspire primitive religions.
Mike has I suppose no capacity for observation.
I appear to have destroyed his letter in disgust =
Oh yes. Point was to restrict Strater to Design. Instead of staying in the design, he has wandered all over the page. I know that he started in correct ambition to make the page good as a whole. But it has in this case bitched the original idea. He said in his letter that the stuff had got “sophisticated” i.e., apparently lost all quality.
Re yr. last: the only course now open is to cut away superfluous rubbish.
Ci inclus: the tail of ‘P’ & the scene across the top of the page.
And other such delenda in other caps.
Such operations as can be performed by simple scission & omission.
Considering the amt. of work you have put into the matter, I don't see why you want the edtn. damaged by retention of same. As to the quality of line in the 'P', it is equal to any 1890, Walter Crane hammered brass.
I have probably been an ass to think that any external action cd. transmute Mike into an artist = but into being on a spot for final process. Last put a lid on.
Error probably entered in doing drawings exact size - the Wordsworth caps were done large - with result that the lines in final blocks have some ratio & style =
The RED was O.K. = a damn good tone.
Also = you try taking a picture of supposedly moving object - falling body etc. & to give you some idea of [way?] good art represents stasis.
& dont tell me a knotted condom is a phallus.
if Mike moved his cock and think a little more about his line instead of thinking about his cock & basing his art on the unconscious = it might get him further.
Your position with Mike is O.K. = the time is so pressing & he so far - & so much cash spent - that you can not have further emendation of designs from him. & have no course save to omit designs & parts that I refuse to have in the book.
As he has redrawn lots of 'energy to suit the engraver & for process reasons he wd presumably have done so in fact he certainly wd have done so for author & for aesthetic reasons. The bill for use of chisel & saw to cut away superfluidity can be chgd to my account.
If there are enough good designs in the lot = the bad ones might be reduced to simple large red caps. //
As to work: I have had to scrap a full year's work more than once = that is what art is & why it is so damn rare. Mike may think he has spent a year on this job, but most of the year he spent on his private life.
Certainly the edtn is to stay within the 100. The 20 copies I mentioned were intended to come out of the 100 = careful reading of my last effusion shd. convey this. & to be for sale.
However, as you point out so Konclusively that the block has to be the same in all copies, that is washed off = & we concentrate on ELIMINATION - economical, but severe = and you leave Mike to me.
Do you want me to write him. I can't until I see the whole set of letters anyhow = & had come to conclusion that it wd. be waste effort. & there wasn't enough likelihood of his ever learning anything to make it worth the postage & expenditure of time.
As to how much time you are putting into the job = = I think I can guess = as anybody who has ever made a good job of anything knows the last 2% of excellence takes more time than the other 98% = that's why art & commerce never savvy one another. you try looking at that page of the P with no excrescences covered with white paper.
The condom is silly = not got any form whatever just the coil of shit as it fell. = no can't draw in bed on a soft piece of paper any better than Mike at large = but any clean shape wd have done better.
To J. Laughlin, [June/July 1950]
AO Canto IV, L/JL 206
The other change is in p/15 yr/ edtn/ Canto IV. takin the Catullus back to HarryStopHerKnees [Aristophanes], whaar Cat/ mebbe got it,
anyhow the greek shows the real way Cat/ wd/ hv/ tookd it fer graunted the Epithalamium wd/ be sung.
Recon the choon [tune] stayed thaaar right down into middle ages.
Dif/ between gk/ etas, and epsylons, wot dun’t show in hinferior langwitches.
To J. Laughlin, [July 1950] [Beinecke; Laughlin]
AO Canto IV, L/JL 207
Oh Yuss, I tell yu wot yu kan DU. […] leaving minutia that don’t matter.
IV p. 15 Ύμηνή
Ύμέναι ὦ, Aurunculei’ ιώ
[...] (fer Jas’s privik. information) differentiates ETA and Epsilon The bloody point re/ Aurunculeia’s greek, is that the Aristophanes, where Catull[us] got it. shows the way to sing it, and the latin does not. Cat/ wd/ hv/ eggspected people to know the tune. I take it this is wot yu want/ essential corrections affecting the SENSE.
Note: David Gordon notes that Michael Lekakis "would sing the choruses of Aristophanes in Greek to EP by first going over the meaning of words and phrases to know where to give emphasis." (L/JL 209)
To J. Laughlin, [February 1951]. [Beinecke, Laughlin]
AO Canto IV
Yes. But yr GOS DAMND printer has NOT included the corrections/ or at least the one important one on p/ 15.
Hugh Kenner to Norman Holmes Pearson, 27 September 1953. [Beinecke; Pearson, Pound]
AO Canto IV
Follows an exact transcript of the revisions at the end of “IV“, as written by Ezra in pencil in my copy, May 1950:
Hymen, Io Hymenæe ^´γμηνν´γμηεναι ὼ^ Aurunculeia!
Follows an exact transcript of the revisions at the end of “IV“, as written by Ezra in pencil in my copy, May 1950: [...]
And So-Gioku, saying:
sire, is the king’s wind,
This wind is wind of the palace,
And that ^ Ran-ti, open^ ing ed^ his collar>
“This wind roars in the earth’s bag,
it lays the water with rushes“
The word before “Ran-ti“ looks like “that“.
Eva Hesse to J. Laughlin, 20 January 1964. [Hugh Kenner]
AO Canto IV
If Olga [Rudge] proves useful [getting answers from Pound to textual queries] we could then entrust her with the remaining twenty questions covering Cantos I-LXXXIV, which I shall supply as soon as I have a spare moment to make a list. [...]
And Ran-ti opened his collar
QUESTION: “Ran-ti“ unfortunately means “orchard [orchid] terrace." E.P. should take a look at the poem quoted – It is Sung Yü’s “Rhymeprose to the Wind."
Eva Hesse to Hugh Kenner, 28 February 1964. [Hugh Kenner]
AO Canto IV
If you have made arrangements in Venice to keep open a channel of communication for the purpose of revisions, here is the situation on the Ran-ti passage, which I managed to get straightened out after your departure.
King Hsiang of Ch’u is dining with poet Sung Yü (Japanese form: So Gyoku) at the Palace of the Orchid Terrace (Lan-t’ai) when a refreshing breeze sets in. Hsiang opens his dress to enjoy the breeze, saying how pleasant it is to know that the wind is something he shares with his people. Sung Yü says: Definitely nope, the wind’s the king’s wind, NOT to be shared with the people. [...] it roars in the ground, leveling rocks, trees, the rushes. Hsiang demurs: “No wind is the king’s wind!“ (And here the shade of [Ernest] Fenollosa pipes up, having translated some phonetic [Kanahira (syllabic script) as opposed to Kanji which does not exist in the Fenollosa archive]: Let every cow keep her calf.) Sung Yü goes on unabashed: “... finally abating, ... it wafts the curtains (of the Palace) ... In the original text the king now capitulates in the face of supreme wisdom, whereas Ezra drags him back by his pigtail to repeat “No wind is the king’s“ – more satisfactory than the original. This could easily be put straight if you can persuade Ezra to accept the following revision:
Sung Yü, saying (or if it has to be Jap, at least Sō Gyoku)
’This wind is the king’s wind,
This wind is wind of the palace
Shaking imperial water-jets.’
And Hsiang opened his collar.
’This wind roars in the earth’s bag,
it lays the water with rushes.’
No wind is the king’s wind.
Let every cow keep her calf.
This wind is held in gause curtains...’
No wind is the king’s...
(That is to say, the poet speaks in inverted commas, the king doesn’t – which seems to be the only way to distinguish between the two voices.)