There is an abrupt time-shift in canto 46 from ‘how it was under Duke Leopold’ to how it is now, in the present moment. Moreover, the poet shifts his identity. He is no longer a searcher of archives, nor the preacher against usury. Now he is a contemporary investigator and prosecutor of crime. He has been on the case for seventeen years and longer, ever since he grasped what Douglas was going on about in the New Age office in 1918, that is, that the government can create credit and distribute purchasing power to its people. He can see the crime, has the evidence and a confession, but can he get a conviction?
The criminal he wants to put away is the banking system which has usurped the power to create credit and which exercises it for private profit and against the public interest. The confession was made by William Paterson, one of the speculators who set up the Bank of England in 1694, in its prospectus and charter. The Bank, he wrote, “Hath benefit of interest on all the moneys which it, the bank, creates out of nothing.”
David Moody. Ezra Pound Poet. Volume II: The Epic Years 1921-1939, 218.
CANTO XXII [Douglas and Keynes in 1918]
CANTO XXXVIII [capitalism, money and war]
CANTO XLV [usury and hyper-usury]
CANTO XLVIII [the Bank of England and paying rent on money]
CANTO XLVI – READINGS
Ezra Pound, reading.
Rome Radio, 12 February 1942.
“#9: February 12, 1942 — “CANTO 46.” Ezra Pound Speaking, 24 September 2009. Free online.
I am readin’ you now another Canto for diverse reasons. It contains things or at least hints at things that you will have to know sooner or later. Berle or no Berle, war or no war.
And as I stated last time, I am feedin’ you the footnotes first in case there is any possible word that might not be easily comprehended. The Decennio, and decennio exposition was the exhibition in Rome at the end of the first ten years of the Fascist regime. Mussolini’s fascist regime. They set up the office of the old Popolo d’Italia, very like what had been the New Age Office in London. Except that Orage’s office contained a couple of drawings by Max Beerbohm which have never been published.
John Marmaduke is a pseudonym, the rest of the names in the Canto are real. The MacMillan Commission sat after the other war to look into the sins of the British Financial system.
Antoninus Pius, a Roman emperor; lex Rhodi the law of Rhodes, well I say that in the Canto. The Latin phrase: Aurum est commune sepulchrum, “gold the common sepulchre.” Parallels: Troy the common grave, I think it is a part of a line by Propertius. But it don’t matter who it is quoted from. And the Greek: helandros, kai heleptolis kai helarxe, “usury destroyer of men and cities and governments.” HELARXE more or less twisted from a line of Aeschylus; about Helen of Troy destroyer of men, and cities. Geryon, Geryone; allegorical beast in Dante’s hell, symbol of fraud and all dirtiness. Hic Geryon est, is a Latin tag meaning, “with the other phrase,” Hic hyperusura: this is “extra strong usury.” Super usury. All right, now I am going on with Canto 46.
Peter Liebregts. Introduction to Canto XLVI.
Paul Cunningham reading the canto. Video clip on ucreate.
Readings in The Cantos of Ezra Pound. IV. Cantos of the 1930s.
Edinburgh Scottish Poetry Library, 23 January 2020.
Photo and camera courtesy of John Glendinning, 9 May 2019.
Copyright © 1934, 1968 by Ezra Pound. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
Ezra Pound and Dorothy Pound. Canto XXIX. In Shakespear’s Pound: Illuminated Cantos. Ed. David A Lewis.
Nacogdoches, TX: LaNana Creek Press, [Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing], 1999.
Photo reproduction courtesy of Walter Baumann and Archie Henderson.
CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION
The last line of canto 46 indicates that Pound drafted it by 27 November 1935. On 31 January 1936, he sent it to James Laughlin to be published in New Democracy, a Social Credit newspaper published in New York. Laughlin was taking care of the literary side of the paper, which he called “New Directions.” The canto was published in New Democracy in March and in the first number of the new annual Laughlin started, New Directions in Prose and Poetry in November 1936. This second printing carries the dateline 30 Jan XIV (1936).
Correspondence by Ezra Pound: ©Mary de Rachewiltz and the Estate of Omar S. Pound. Reproduced by permission.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Pound/Laughlin. Selected Letters. Ed. David M. Gordon. New York: Norton, 1994.
Eliot, T.S.E. The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Volume 8: 1936-38. London: Faber, 2019.
Pound, Ezra. Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D. D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1971.
Taylor, Richard. “Editing the Variorum Cantos: Process and Policy.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 31.1-3 (2002): 311-34. [References in square brackets by Taylor in text.]
|YCAL||Beinecke Library, Ezra Pound Papers YCAL 43; Olga Rudge Papers YCAL 54, Box no/Folder no/|
To Alfred Richard Orage, 29 January 1932
YCAL 43, 38/1615
My dear Augustus,
Naow ter git dahn to economics//
As far as I remember the first man to say in yr/ late lamented pyper the Noo Age.
Any govt. that wasn’t god damned (or words to that effect) bloody inefficient could pay dividends and NOT need to collect any taxes.
was not the noble Maj. but yours (can verify or correct that by ref/ to yr/ N.A. files for the year before Noah’s flood 1919 or 20. or mebbe it was 17 or 18.
To Olga Rudge, 25 December 1932, Rome
YCAL 54, 13/342
Xposit decennio rather impressive if one have the senso storico.
To Clifford Hugh Douglas, 25 February anno XIII 
YCAL 43, 13/608
The Geneva Bahai centre, says it is ordering yr/ books for the “stand” which I believe is plumb in the centre of the Leg/ of Nations building/ right in the bloody shit pile. And exhortation has been forwarded to the head and chief Jesus or Whoosis, to get onto brass tacks. Two litres of camels milk to each donket noy [sic], in the oily deserts of Persia...
To W. H. D. Rouse, 6 June 1935
Dear Dr. Rouse
Pickthall, who knows his Near East, said veracity is only valued where people are in a hurry and set value on quickness.
To Olga Rudge, [15 December 1935]
YCAL 54, 16/421
Nawthin but the poEMA now needin attenshun. and seven or eight campaigns for uman HUPPliff.
To J. Laughlin, 20 December 1935
L/JL 51; Var 314
THAT particular Canto/ [XLV] I thought might go in Chicago, rather than in an econ/ mag/ where it aint needed. It is intended to REACH the unteck/ knuckl mind. [you had J.P. Angold’s old address […] BUT I am proceedin with the opus.
To Olga Rudge, [21 December 1935]
YCAL 54, 16/422
Has done a few more lines of poesia/
To Olga Rudge, [28 December 1935]
YCAL 54, 16/423
Smorning, wich iz now 9.15 he get nrg/ to shift one page of typescript off’n the front of the USURA, and to start another canto/
se’z he now get a start on 47/
but he thinks nowt she aint seen; except two sort of pages, that is most cursive or run on and not BLOCKS.
From T. S. Eliot to James Laughlin, 3 January 1936
L/TSE 8: 20
How Ezra has been able all hese years to reconcile his enthusiasm for fascism with Social Credit principles has been a mystery to his friends.
To J. Laughlin，31 January 
Canto XLVI, sent this a/m, not to be confused with the USURA canto, mentioned before. XLVI (46) is destined for New Dem[ocracy]/
The USURA is more suited to some non/ econ publication. Harriet ought to PAY for it.
James Laughlin to T. S. Eliot, 25 February 1936
L/TSE 8: 104-5
Ezra has sent me Canto XLVI for the next number. Have you seen it? It opens with an amusing reference to your reverence… Most of it is solidly epic & economic but there is a charming intrusion of Lawrence the Arabian… The poetry is too good to impress a jury.
T. S. Eliot to James Laughlin, 9 March 1936
L/TSE 8: 104
Thank you for your letter of February 25. […]
I haven’t seen any Cantos subsequent to 41, but I am glad to hear your report, and to know that Ezra is not altogether abandoning poetry to devote himself to economics and boosting Mussolini.
Canto 46 is published in New Democracy IV.1, March 1936
XLVI – BIBLIOGRAPHY
ARTICLES IN JOURNALS AND COLLECTIONS
- Pestell, Alex. “The Bank of England and the ‘Crime / Ov two Centuries.’” Companion to Ezra Pound and Economics. Nordhausen: Verlag Traugott Bautz, 2019. 115-36.
- Cookson, William. “Geryon – Fraud.” In A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 1985. 65-6.
- De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: XLVI.” Ezra Pound. I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1534-5.
- Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto XLVI.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. 1261-2.
- Liebregts, Peter. Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004. 230-1.
- Malm, Mike. “Canto 46.” In Editing Economic History: Ezra Pound’s The Fifth Decad of Cantos. New York: Peter Lang, 2005. 80-1.
- Moody, David A. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 218-20; 327-32.
- Stock, Noel. Reading the Cantos. A Study of Meaning in Ezra Pound. New York: Pantheon Books, 1966. 49-56.
- Surette, L. A Light from Eleusis. A Study of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. 95-8; 142-43.
- Surette, Leon. Pound in Purgatory. From Economic Radicalism to Anti-Semitism. Urbana: U of Illinois Press, 1999. 268-70.
- Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto XLVI.” In Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound.” Berkeley: U of California P., 1980. 179-83.
- Guidi, Paolo. “Canto XLVI.” Etching. 8 November 2013. Go to site.
- Pound, Ezra. “#9: February 12, 1942 — “CANTO 46”. Ezra Pound Speaking, 24 September 2009. Free online.
- Sawyer, Richard. “The 12 Regents in Canto 51.” The Cantos Project, 2 April 2020. Free online.
- Sawyer, Richard. “Canto 46 and the ex nihil Racket.” The Cantos Project, 6 July 2020. Free online.
- Sellar, Gordon. Blogging Pound’s The Cantos: Cantos XLVI-XLVII. Free online.