Article Index

 

 

CANTO VIII

 

 Sigismundo and Gemisthus in Gozzoli's pageant, Adoration of the Magi, Paazzo Medici Riccardi

Sigismondo on horseback, at the very left of Benozzo Gozzoli's fresco, Procession of the Magi. Florence: Palazzo Medici Riccardi.
(Gemisthus Plethon, with white beard and blue cap in the group of followers).

 

No one has claimed that the Malatesta Cantos are obscure. They are openly volitionist, establishing, I think clearly, the effect of the factive personality, Sigismundo, an entire man.

Ezra Pound. Guide to Kulchur 194.

 

RELATED CANTOS

CANTO XXI [mirror models of patronage: Lorenzo de Medici and Jefferson]

CANTO XXIV [A Renaissance lord: Sigismondo vs Niccolò d’Este; the Tempio vs the Schifanoia]

CANTO XLV [art patronage during the Renaissance; The Tempio Malatestiano]

 


 

220px Cappella dei magi sigismondo pandolfo malatesta sx e galeazzo maria sforza dx

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CANTO VIII - A PORTRAIT OF SIGISMONDO MALATESTA

 Canto VIII is in many ways a preamble to the Malatesta sequence. It is a more general portrait of Sigismondo and provides a justification of Pound’s interest in him. Sigismondo’s primary occupation, that of a condottiere (military commander for hire), is presented as almost "an interruption" from what Pound regards as Malatesta’s most important cultural service, that of being a patron of the arts and building the Tempio Malatestiano. As Pound says towards the end of the canto, while other condottieri, like Francesco Sforza, were busy making war and switching alliances, Sigismondo “templum aedificavit” – he built the temple. Without it, Sigismondo’s name would be just an item in a genealogy, a grain in a neutral historical record. But by building the Tempio, he “cut his notch,” he left behind his record of struggle.

Canto VIII shows how in his little town in Romagna, Sigismondo was a lord on the model of the Medici, the Este and the Gonzaga: he was a military man, but also a patron of the arts; he wrote poetry and organized splendid festivities; he made military alliances and participated in the most significant political events of his time. At the end of the canto, Pound starts relating the events of Sigismondo’s youth up to the time he took up the signoria of Rimini in 1432, his struggle to assert his leadership against the challenges of his own family and the pope. After that, “he crossed the Foglia,” like Caesar had crossed the Rubicon: there would be no turning back.

 


 

 

CANTO VIII – READINGS

 

 

 

 

rsz 1david

rsz 1paul cunningham reading

 

David Moody. Introduction to Canto VIII. Paul Cunningham reading the canto. Video clip on ucreate.

A READING OF THE CANTOS OF EZRA POUND. II. CANTOS OF THE 1920s.

Edinburgh University, 50 George Square, Project Room, 5 October 2017.

Photos courtesy of Svetlana Ehtee, October 2017

 


 

 

 

CANTO VIII

 

 

 

canto 8

canto 8

 

 

 

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

Canto VIII 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.

 

 

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