A DRAFT OF XVI CANTOS
Note on colours: violet for active links to the companion page of a canto; green for active links to full-text canto with glosses; orange for inactive links.
A DRAFT OF XVI CANTOS
Illustrations by Henry Strater.
Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1925
A Draft of XVI Cantos is the first installment of the poem, published as an illuminated folio edition in 1925.
CALENDAR OF PUBLICATION
LIST of ABBREVIATIONS
|EPP||A. David Moody. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. Volume II. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014.|
|L/H||The Letters of Ernest Hemingway. Eds. Sandra Spanier and Robert W. Trogdon. Volume II. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2011.|
|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/WCW||Pound/Williams. The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams Ed. Hugh Witemeyer. NY: New Directions, 1996.|
|L/WL||Pound/Lewis. The Correspondence of Ezra Pound and Wyndham Lewis. Ed. Timothy Materer. London: Faber, 1985.|
|L||The Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D.D. Paige. London: Faber, 1951.|
|SL||The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D.D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1971.|
|YCAL||Beinecke Library. YCAL numbers indicate author, box and folder.|
To IWP, 11 May 1923, Paris
S Oiseau is preparing a de looks edtn. of Malatesta at 25 dollars a shot; with still more valued edtn at 50 bones, Strater at work on special capitals,
Samle page will follw [sic] in due course. Several copies already sold.
To Kate Buss, 12 May 1923
L 256; SL 187
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 Homer Pound, 19 May - 70 bis, N.D. de C. [Paris]
Edtn. de luxe of Cantos, planned. Marse Henry designing opulent capitals. Don't try to buy one, its too xpensive. Will send you one in the autumn IF it gets done.
To Isabel Pound, 1 August 1923
Cantos IX to XII are in July Criterion. Am revising the earlier ones for S Oiseau's edition.
To Dorothy Pound, 20 October 1923
Lilly Library Pound Mss. III Aug-October 1923
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.
To Homer Pound, October 1923
Have finished canto XVI, that is fifth after the Malatesta, having rewritten beginning of poem, and condensed three cantos into two.
To Dorothy Pound, 2 November 1923
Lilly Library Pound Mss., III Box 1
Murphy’s cinema machine on premises & piano due tomorrow. Read. Rubayat 2 vols. Mozart works.
Bill just in with some really be-e-yu-teeful paper for the Cantos.
Specimen pages from the de luxe edition were on show at Shakespeare & Co. November 22-29 (Moody EPP II:58).
Pound releases edited setting copy of Cantos I-V and XII-XVI to Bill Bird.
Source: curator’s note Beinecke YCAL MSS 43 Oversize Box 241, Folder 55.
At the end of the typescript in that setting copy, with the final lines of Canto XVI, Pound writes 6 Jan. 1924, and signs the page by hand “E.P.”
(Also see EPP II 58 and Beall, The Cantos Project 2017, here.)
To Homer Pound, 29 January 1924
Bird is still preparing the de luxe CANTOS.
Baldy Bacon is F.S. Bacon. he visited us in Wyncote once or twice. also turned up in Paris last year 2 days after I had typed out that canto. there is a hell (2 cantos) & war (one canto.) & the honest sailor 1/2 of that canto - that you haven't yet seen - reserved for the book.
From Ernest Hemingway, 10 February, 1924
Henry is working hard on the Cantos.
From Ernest Hemingway, 17 March, 1924, Paris
Henry left for America. Father forgive them for they know not what they do.
His initials and head and tail pieces for your book are god damn good.
To William Bird, 6 April 1924, Hotel Berchielli, Lungarno Acciaioli, Florence
Lilly Library, William Bird Papers. ALS
Re/ enclosure poor Henry has probably bitched this capital. I can’t do much about that either but for Xt’s sake delete
- The love knot lower right corner
- The scene under the word canto
- The tail of the P from line marked
a lot of detail ought to be erased or hammered down in the centre design but that is a more complicated process
DELETE all H’s drawing outside the hole in the P. if anything can be done by yr. engraver
1. to take the leaves out of those trees
2. to thicken the bordering lines
let him do it.
Try the page with just the red part of the P [as designed by H. except for its being cut off at the black line – outside word Black cock
at any rate leave me a few copies – say sixteen with the plain letter. = better 30.
you can leave the emended design for them as wants it in return for lucre.
but in ALL copies delete excrescences 1. 2. & 3. and let me see proofs of other letters & ornaments early – not necessary to do the 2 colour proof.
Hell – I told him to cut off trail of the P – at least I thought I did.
However – will save what we can - & no love knots.
William Bird to Dorothy Pound, 10 April 1924, Paris
Lilly Library, William Bird Papers. TLU
Dear Dorothy: Ford says he has heard from Ezra that he has another attack of appendicitis, and is laid up with ice-bags. I am awfully sorry to hear it and hope he is pulling through in good shape.
But I don’t want to add to his worries, so am writing this to you to use your judgment about the opportune time to take it up with him, if at all.
Yesterday I got a letter from him, returning the proof I sent him of the Prospectus, with various suggestions for altering the initial. He was apparently under the impression that I was awaiting his corrections before printing, which was not the case. The Prospectuses are now all printed, so of course it’s too late to make any changes.
But, anyhow, it would be quite impossible for me to alter the drawings in any way. Apart from the fact that I haven’t the skill, I haven’t the authority. I would no more think of taking liberties with Mike’s designs than with Ezra’s text.
I don’t see at all why Ezra thought I could do this. Of course he may have had some understanding with Strater to that effect, but I know nothing about it. That is strictly a matter between Ezra and Mike. The latter turned the drawings over to me, and I have had the cuts made exactly according to his instructions. They represent an investment of 2000 francs or more on my part.
The only practical way to handle this matter as things stand now is to let the book go ahead, with Text by Pound, decorations by Strater and printing by Bird. Each one will have to be responsible for his own share. I cannot shoulder responsibility for the initials, and Ezra shouldn’t.
I feel most unhappy about this thing. After all, Mike was Ezra’s selection, the sketches were submitted to Ezra, and I was firmly convinced that we were all three in agreement down to the last details. I have sunk about 6000 francs in this book thus far, mostly for paper and cuts, the whole thing is planned out to the last comma, and it is absolutely too late to plunge into any such wholesale alterations as Ezra seems to want. We are ready to begin printing the first form of the book, pressman is engaged, press is ready, all set. It’s a damn shame if Ezra doesn’t like the drawings, and a terrific disappointment to me, but what can be done about it?
My first impulse was to ignore E’s letter altogether, but I think it’s better to have everything down plainly and white, so here goes, and if Ezra is not worrying about the thing any more use your judgment about communicating this to him.
Affectionate salutations to you both.
To Homer Pound, 10 April 1924
Proof of Prospectus of Bird's edtn - of Cantos – has arrived & been returned with suggestions re modification -
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 idiocy he 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 William Bird, 7 May 1924
L 25; SL 189
D.B.: Do recall that the title of that book is 'A DRAFT of 16 Cantos for a poem of some length.' If you will stick to that you will produce something of gtr. val. to collectors. Also it ain't an epic. It's part of a long poem. Yr. best ad is the quiet statement that at auction recently a copy of Mr. P's A Lume Spento published in 1908 at $1.00 (one dollar) was sold for $52.50.
No use selling people things on false pretences. The collector will prefer this half-time report on the poem to a pretended complete edition.
To Homer Pound, 16 May 1924, Assisi
Have read vast work on Ferrara - & blocked out course of a few more cantos.
Some of Henry's designs are good - I dont care for the one Bill is using as an ad. [the Fourth Canto] but I am pleased quite definitely with some of the others.
Shd have been in Paris to make final selection etc - but still. - it will be a fairly good looking book. - you are NOT expected to subscribe - an exemplaire will reach you in due course.
Am beginning to want typewriter again = sign of awakening energy.
To IWP, [after 16 May 1924], Albergo Belle Arti Perugia
Tell Dad - if people kick at price of XVI cantos he can remind 'em that A Lume Spento was pubd. @ $1. & that he sold a copy for $40 & that J.Q. sold same again for $52.50.
As those are the only terms in which the native can think.
Reassure dad that he will get his copy when it is printed - without any further action on his part.
To Dorothy Pound, 6 August 1924
Lilly Library, Pound Mss., III Box 1
Have approved page size, type etc and Bill expects proof in a fortnight, but that don’t mean the book will be out for six weeks.
To Dorothy Pound, 30 August 1924
Lilly Library, Pound Mss., III Box 1
It is the Jeff. correspondence, not the FREE PRESS that I want. Thanks for the Wash. matter.
Must cart proofs over to Bill.
To Homer Pound, 12 September 1924, Paris
Cantos being very magnificently done, but job goes slowly.
To Homer Pound, 15 October 1924
The title page of the Cantos has been set up; but the book wont be done for two or three months, yet.
To Homer Pound, 29 November 1924, Rapallo
The Cantos are advertised for end of THIS year. Exhibition of sample pages now going on in Paris.
To R. P. Blackmur, 30 November 1924
L 260-61; SL 189-190
Dear Mr. Blackmur:
Why the 100 readers? There were only five men hanged with Villon, or rather without him. Nobody can pay 25 dollars for a book. I know that. I didn't make the present economic system. The book, of course, can't be made for 25 bucks. Not if Strater and Bird and I were to be paid. That is not the point.
Neither is it my fault if America is so mentally and spiritually rotten as to permit filth like S-- and Article 211 of the U.S. Penal Code to lie around empesting the atmosphere.
My American publishers do not exist. It becomes more and more evident that the American publisher must be left out of one's calculations. Likewise English and henglish publishers. There may some day be a cheaper continental edition. One hopes that the Three Mts. and McAlmon's press in Paris will lead to some more general system of printing over here. At least I have suggested the matter. I do not, personally, intend to devote much energy to it; and as I see things at present, I shall never again take any steps whatever to arrange publication of any of my work in either England or America. Tant pis pour les indigenes. They will have to cure their own sores and spew out their idols.
There will be a public copy of the XVI in the Malatestiana at Cesena, if Dazzi consents to house it for me. Dad has typescript of XVIII and XIX, but I do not want them commented on, yet. ETC.
To IWP, 3 December 1924, Rapallo
Sample pages of the Cantos, binding, etc. are being exhibited in the rue de l Odeon. I think I sent dad a notice. Am continuing labour on further chunks of the opus.
To Wyndham Lewis, 3 December 1924
L 262-63; SL 190-91; L/WL 138-140
Am also letting out another reef in my long job. Installment of which should soon be inspectable. XVI have gone on, I think with more kick, since arrival here.
Question being (now that we have emerged, or if you like, now that I have emerged) from VARIA, that you found alien: Can we kick up any more or any new devilment??
I am going down to Etna, d.v. in a fortnight. Have you any suggestions?? I don't know what the - - - -you are doing. It strikes me that ten or a dozen BLACK designs about the size of this type sheet wd. be serviceable.
(Can't remember whether I have ever discussed Strater's initials with you. Need something for press, etc. etc. etc. proportion of design lines to type. Lot of boring detail-had to be ••• between printer and omator.)
Neither here nor there, but perhaps ten or a dozen designs for the two cantos dealing with Hell might be circulatable. As that section of the poem can NOTbe circulated freely.
You did years ago in Kens. Gds. discuss a book of verse and designs. In this case it wd. be designs only but with cantos as reference. You will readily see that the 'hell' is a portrait of contemporary England, or at least Eng. as she wuz when I left her.
I don't know that the designs need have much to do with the text, or anything. Merely that I have failed on various occasions in attempts to RAM unrelated designs of yours into the continental maw; and shd. like a try at ramming designs related, or supposed to be related to something that had already gone in.
The de luxe had more than paid for itself some time ago. 2 of 100buck copies had gone when I last heard, and requisite number of the 25, also some of the 50.
Anyhow, wait till you see the text, and if you approve, or if it starts you, I shd. be glad to try either to make Bird print' em, or to get some other sort of ballyhoo in action on the matter.
Have also iron in fire for some more general sort of publishing that the 3 Mts. offers and more satisfac. than afforded in Eng. or Am. pub. circles.
(In parenthesis, I aimed a kick at that - - - - D.B. this morning. This purely en passant. Of no importance. Really a country that will tolerate that pyper for any purpose, even that of wiping pigs' arses, is beneath the jo level.)
It rained yesterday, the feast of St. Bibiana. That is said to mean rain for forty days. So that I shd. have leisure to attend to your correspondence if there were any ••••• Benedictions.
P.S. You understand this suggestion of designs for the hell is merely an idea that came to me as I was writing this note. If you can think of something better, blaze away. Only I think the idea of ten or twelve BLACKS of size that cd. go by post, and that cd. be done in line block, might be useful. No use trying to drag J.J.A. or W. Robs. or anything or anyone else into it. The rest of our companions presumably HA VE belonged to the decade just past. Apart from Robert and young George I think the rest of the buds have disappeared in unblossomed fragrance.
Whether we can produce further and larger detonation by a new combination I leave to yr. wisdom to konsider.
From William Carlos Williams, 23 December 1924
Bill Bird tells me in a recent letter of his struggles to complete the printing of your Cantos. It is all so slow that at times it drives me to despair. I do not wish to become Hinduistic and wait for all completions to take place in another life-or is that American Indian lore?
To William Bird, 26 December 1924
L 263; SL 192
On further consideration, better NOT send copy Cantos to Hardy. He may drop off at any moment. Don't want the hell to fall into the wrong hands until there are enough later chants to bring it into proportion with the hole.
From Henry Strater, 13 January 1924  - 1 Lexington Avenue, New York
YCAL Mss 43 Box 50/Folder 2241
Please give Mizzz’ Pound my many thanks for her advice, assistance, & material help in producin’ them capitals.
How were they received? By how many wus the details appreciated?
How many more years before Col. Bird aims to bring all this here travail to a close?
You axes me if the climate is yet rife for the sister aht. Ah says, yesm, if his health is very strong, he may survive the first wave… .
To William Bird, 25 January 1925
L 267-68; SL 195
Dear Bill: Bozze recd. COMPLIMENTI. Much finer than I had expected. Also various things of Henry's look O.K. in double page [drawing] that I had disliked in single [drawing].
He has the larffff on us for p. 16 [drawing] because it wd. have goed better the way he meant, only we fergotttt abaht the “C” on the next page.
Vurry noble work. And up to date no misprint of any importance-only an i for an oat the end of Piccinini, where it don't matter a cuss. Mos' remarkable. Even the subject matter don't seem so objectionable.
Have you a spare page 31 (Canto IX)? Preferably with red. It don't matter about the type. I shd. like to send that sheet to the ole archivista at Ravenna who made me the sketch of the ox-carts. Don't think he reads English. Want enough of page to show him it is part of a book, not a detached picture. Can be sent folded once from top to bottom, but not up the perpendicular middle of page. Not matter oflife and death. But if there is a spare slip of that page, on the top arf, can you send it?
Are there any spare sheets left that cd. be used as ads. or for presentation. NO more free copies = i.e. whole copies. Hell to be revealed only for 25 bones. But let me know about spare sheets = re/ which we can consult and which I will use only with yr. august approval. Think we shd. keep a list of what partial copies or spare leaves exist.
Am much more pleased than I Xpected to be. And satisfied with Strater where I had before been worried abaht his effex .
Engkore mes compleemengs.
Also size of bok. is pleasant = can be held on lap - not too heavy = & type read at that distance = a bhloody ghood job = after awl yr. night sweats.=
To Homer Pound, 28 January 1925
I have typed to end on Canto XX & recd. copy of Bill’s edtn. I-XVI – special proofs. Too late to correct any thing – only one error that matters / head should be heads on p. 58 line 10.
heads rose. = snake heads not the single head of Medusa herself.
you will probably find 2 of them there cantos a bit strong. (pungent)
but I think they are only what is needed. I wd. have gone further if I had seen any way of doing it.
Eliot writes that he wants to print some more cantos in his mausoleum. Don’t know that he will when he sees ‘em.
Hope you will be getting your Cantos . about now.
That will give you something to go on with. & ask questions about.
Straters work & Bills printing come up better than I had expected.
From Henry Strater, 21 February  - 1 Lexington Avenue, New York
YCAL Mss 43 Box 50/2241
Not that I give a damn for the critics, but I’d be interested to know what they have to say (if anything) about the designs. I know a good deal about the average intelligence on the subject of painting. But I have a strong feeling that the general level is lower, in regard to design. So I’d appreciate clippings, if you or Oiseau have any.
Tell Bill that ahm getting’ mighty lonely ova hya without mah deezigns, eff he caint sen’ me np proofs, when can ah have mah deezigns? Ah doan ax to have ‘em boun’, all ah axes is to have ‘em sent in a small bu’ safe manneh.
Ah diden’ leave Parus because ah wusen intrusted in de buk, ah lef because ah wanted to keep mah estate in th’ same state uv salubrity, exten’, en general pro-ductiveness as is wus fahve years ago. […]
As for ys’ potry, it be the onliest huntemporary potry wat interests me at all. An’ moreover, ah thinks that the bestes’ faht of uor potry has nothin’ wasseveh to do with subject matteh. Ah mean dat ah lakks yor pulsations en’ yo’ rythmms. En if pulsations en’ rythmms ain’ got the essentials of poetry, then ah doan know no moah about potry than you fren’ Misteh Fohd does ‘bout paintin’. Ah showed a reprodukshun of a Holbein, an’ real mean lake, ah sed ah deiden’ know who it was by. En he sed he wused suah, but he thot it wus probably Tishun (that Venice paintuh). So ah hopes he write ‘nother book, about Tizians. (But doan’ tell Misteh Fohd ‘bout that Holbien, ‘cause its one of the neoo’ faums of key wuks.)
I am specially interested to know what Mizz Poun’ thinks of the Hell canto designs, also the I with the lake and the swans (#3?) also the tailpiece, also the last, more designed ones best, or the first, more worked over ones? Some of the first ones were the 16th canto, the P, the two T’s and the G.
Now about Liveright, for my own protection in conversation. What is his position on the cantos? I haven’t heard from him since I called. […]
Give my love to Miz’ Poun’, also the same to you from Maggie.
As for more designs; I am painting now six days a week average, & from nine to six thirty daily. Moreover, it is good stuff. Carried much further. A couple of big figure designs, that I’ve worked on now at various times since last June. Just design; then drawing; then colour; then form; then character. But av you say, there is plenty of time.
Bill is a swell fellow and a real artist in his printing. It is big. But he’s wrong about wood-blocks. That’s archaicism. Just like asking you to write in hieroglyphics. Of course, hieroglyphics nare nicer to look at than printing.
Pen + ink drawings are more plastic so watercolours + true freezes are nicer than oils, but they are less plastic.
From Ernest Hemingway, 16 March, 1925
[...] Got my copy of the Cantos. Aint paid for it yet. Will, however. Gawd it's a fine book.
To Homer Pound, 2 April 1925, Rapallo
HAVE YOU recd. Cantos YET, and ef not, why not??
To Homer Pound, April 1925
I dont know WHY the HELL you haven't got your copy of Cantos, unless Bill is taking it to America himself to save risk of loss in post.
Will write to Three mts. AT once.
I haven't yet got my second copy, supposed to be still at Binders. French books are issued unbound, everybody then binds his own, i.e. has it bound to suit his own taste, IF he wants it enough to bind it.
Thus there are no wholesale binders, as in Eng. and U.S., or rather very few, and the chaps that can do these de looks jobs are slow as coal tar, and used to finishing one copy at a time.
To Homer Pound, 29 April 1925, Rapallo
The seccertary-an-typist of the 3 Mts. reports copy of CANTOS shipped to you. If you haven't recd. by the time you get this, respond and will start tracer.
If you get 2 copies put the second into cold storage until instructions arrive concerning its destiny. [...]
Mr Strater is in N.Y., I suppose painting WORSE, but he seems happy.
To William Bird, 24 August 1925
Lilly Library W. Bird mss. Partly printed in L 273; SL 200
Deer Bull: If you will go thru the archives of the late Mme Rosen, o.b.e., I think you will find a Xtrak from the fascist organ of Rimini stating that the opus is a CAPOLAVORO magnifico.
It was carried thru the village, not on a triumphal ox-cart draped with scarlet, but at any rate with due order by il Commandante. (I declined to see the sindaco, but expressed no unwillingness that he shd. gaze on the edition.)
Marchetti stated that he had shown my poem "anche a Domini Deo".
The copy was placed in the Malatestiana at Cesena by my own honourable hands with fitting inscription, and various of the studiosi were later assembled (in my absence) and those who cdn't stumble thru English 'ad it hexplained. Dazzi very much surprised when I said Hell cantos wd. not travel thru American post. (That shows what a proper Dantescan education will do for a man. He said no modem Eyetalian wd. have the guts to do' em. That they were of a vigore propriamente americano.)
They really need the GERYON to elucidate 'em. I read Dazzi the Sidg., the Hell and the new typescript (Geryon) XVIII and XIX (which you may sho'tly see).
The copy was NOT sent from yr. office to Cesena; that is prob. why you have no official record. Copy sent here, and I toted it over.
Thanks for the Malatesta Roma and Japan sheets recd. Am sending the Roma to il Commandante; and ascertaining whether the museum is ready to frame and hang the velum. If it ain't, they will do very nicely here. Am glad to see the vellum, with space enough to see the proportion, couldn't get full effek in print shop. I see some reason for the vellum edtn. I also see that the Whatman takes a better imprint than the Roma, BUT the stink!!!!!!! AND the transparency of the paper seem to me to make it MOST ondesirable sort of paper to print anything but obstetric woiks on.
Just the sort of shitty smell a COLLECTOR would leave unnoticed. Books for the shelf and not the 'and or the nose.
The vellum initials, if you put the X to left and IX to right, make a very good display.
Do you know of any chemical treatment for Whatman, any profume that wont stain the paper??
From Ernest Hemingway, late September 1925
L/H II: 395
I’ve just hunted for and can’t find the specimen page of the Cantos which had your statement of the plan and purpose of the whole show so there isn’t any use for me to go on with this. I’ve thought the hell of a lot about that dialect business and I think that is the danger that can wreck the whole damned project of the cantos which Christ knows is a swell project.
To William Bird, 3 October 1925
Lilly Library, William Bird Papers
Hav you ANY bloomin idee wot it cost to print the Cantos. Exclusive of buyin the plant?? Salary of ten printers for two years, etc..
Not countin the pleasurh.
Itz a beeeyeuteeful book. Several people have said so. And wot is more surprisin three or four have gone so far as to take note of the contents …… vuury curious, onect again. Of course the majority of the references are to the print an bindin…..
The japan veeal um is sure swell stuff. Am slowly getting the stink out of the Whatman, with yarbs, perfumes disinfectants, etc.
To Carlo Linati, 6 June 1926
Pound E. 1980, Lettere 1907-1958. Ed. A. Tagliaferri. Feltrinelli, Milan. 96.
Come nel XVI Canto, di Pound, forse il primo libro americano dove l’autore, l’ornatore e lo stampatore hanno collaborato per fare un’unità. Non potendo fare un altro battistero di Parma, non avendo denaro per una unità delle arti in una struttura architetturale, hanno voluto reintegrare tre arti in una cosa piccola, disegni, capitali come nei manoscritti del Medioevo [...].
[...] perhaps the first American book in which author, designer and printer have collaborated to create a unity. Since they could not erect another Parma Baptistery, and didn’t have the money for a unity of the arts in a single architectural structure, they have chosen to integrate three arts in a small thing: drawings, capitals, as in the manuscripts of the Middle Ages. (Tr. Massimo Bacigalupo, 2015. 133).
From Henry Strater, 15 November 1926 - 1 Lexington Avenue, New York
YCAL Mss 43 Box 50/2241
Re Yriarte, howthell could the book be preserved, without rebinding? If I had known that you valued the cover more than the contents, I would have kept the latter. But I admit it was a loss to the world. The cover was in a class with the Opera.
I ast you once already, where are those cantos XVII et sec. published?
We are glad to see Ford.
If Bill is in jail, perhaps that’s why I never got my original drawing for the cantos. I wrote him a year ago. Haven’t one. If he doesn’t value them, I do.
From John Rodker, 29 May 1928
YCAL Mss 43 Box 45/Folder 1924
My dear Ezra,
Your country right or wrong, has just confiscated one of the 10 guinea copies of your first 16 CANTOS, sent me by Bird and dispatched by an agent here who supplies American booksellers. It seems it may even prosecute the bookseller to whom it was addressed.
Fortunately I have been paid for the copy and the loss falls on the exporting agent here.
However, it is bad for all our reputations, even though there is no loss to us. You will know best whether anything can be done about it.
From John Rodker, 12 June 1928
YCAL Mss 43 Box 45/Folder 1924
My dear Ezra,
Here is the end of the CANTOS [17-27] and if you will let me have them back as soon as possible, the book can then be finished.
The copy of the first 16 CANTOS was addressed by Messrs. Stevens & Brown Ltd., 4 Trafalgar Square, London, to The H. and H. Book Company, Topeka, Kansas, U S A. They say they have returned to their correspondents the letters which they received from the Collector of customs in St. Louis, but they “would be grateful for any action that Mr. Pound may be able to take with a view to having the volume released, and trust such action may be in time to prevent the volume being destroyed” (which seems to me unlikely).
From John Rodker, 23 June 1928
YCAL Mss 43 Box 45/Folder 1924
Thanks for yours from Venice.
Latest from the front is as follows;
“We have to report from our correspondents that they have received the cover of the book from the Customs Department so that we presume the book itself has been destroyed. We trust however that Mr. Pound’s intervention may be in time to prevent that, although we are afraid it may be too late.”
They go on to say that they still want a copy of the book and I am now writing to Bird.
I dont [sic] suppose anything can really be done but raise a stink.
From William Bird, 26 Nov 1928
YCAL Mss. 43 Box 6/ Folder 193
“Suppose you have seen the ambitious programme of Mlle. Cunard.
Report has it that Rodker is SOLD OUT on cantos No.2. If true it would be useful to have his list of subscribers. Pipple who got No.2 should ought to got No.1 also, nit? We can still take care of a few applications.
If the reports of tremendous commercial success of Cantos 2 are correct please let me know & I will write the eminent publisher for his list. I presoom he wont mind, as I gave him mine.”
From Basil Bunting, “Last of 1928”.
YCAL Mss 43 Box 6/ Folder 276
Rodker showed me the new volume of Cantos, [17-27] but didn’t let me take it away and read it. It is handsome. If he had got as good paper as the Paris lot it would have been the better volume.
To the Editor of Chicago Tribune, 31 January 1932
YCAL Mss 43 Box 8/Folder 388
For editions de luxe, because wood-pulp paper etc. crumbles in a century or so and priceless etc. wd. Be lost if the GOVERNMENT do buy rag paper to preserve the priceless words, etc…. At a time when we already have two hundred fool schemes for the govt. to make underwear, plant grape vines, etc.
Every author with any intention of producing anything of more or less durable value takes the trouble to have it printed on good paper. Most so-called authors have no wish to write for posterity and no care for anything save immediate profits, and consider anyone who had such ambition a nut or an imbecile.
A great many books are printed on good paper, especially classics and books that are supposed to have permanent interest.
A few years ago the de luxe edtn. was one of the few means of publishing anything not likely to have large commercial success. This means of attaining free speech has been largely blocked by the formation of a de luxe book trust in New York, which has reduced at least 80% of the de luxe book production to commercial level, but has not been able to eliminate free individual production altogether.
From William Bird, 25 July 1932
YCAL Mss 43 Box/??
And speaking of Maecenases, I have just received from the binder after 5 years waiting a Japan copy of Cantos handsomely bound in red morocco. If you happen to hear of anybody with 100 smackers who wants a safe investment, it looks like the opportunity of a lifetime. Many people who bought N.Y. Central five years ago are wishing to-day that they had bought Cantos instead.
From William Bird, 13 January 1933
YCAL Mss 43 Box/??
I have the welcome news that the 2 vols. of CANTOS will be shipped to you on Monday. They have been completed in professional style by my daughter, who has spent most of the Xmas holidays at the bindery.
If, as I assume, these vols. are sold, you may if convenient send me 25 bucks as my share of the booty.
From William Bird, 17 January 1933
YCAL Mss 43 Box/??
Dear Ezra: Okay – don’t pay for books until sold. They were posted yesterday in 2 packages, registered.