Article Index

 

 

CANTO XXXVII

CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION

 

 

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

Correspondence by Ezra Pound: (c) Mary de Rachewiltz and the Estate of Omar S. Pound. Reproduced by permission.

 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

CHI

Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library, Box no/Folder no

L/JL

Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound and James Laughlin / Selected Letters. Ed. David Gordon. New York: Norton 1994.

L/SN

Pound, Ezra. One Must Not Go Altogether With The Tide. The Letters Of Ezra Pound And Stanley Nott. Ed. Miranda Hickman. Kingston McGill-Queen’s University Press, 2011.

L/TSE

Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Edited by Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden. Vol. 7: 1934-35. London: Faber, 2017.

P&P

Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound’s Poetry and Prose. Contributions to Periodicals. Eds. Lea Baechler, A Walton Litz and James Longenbach. 11 vols. New York: Garland, 1991.

YCAL

Beinecke Library, New Haven. Ezra Pound Papers YCAL 43; Olga Rudge Papers YCAL 54 Box no/Folder no

 

1931

To Dorothy Pound, 30 September [1931]

Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III

Mao/

[...]

Have chewed thru a good deal of Adams and written Neum/ to start chasing VanBuren.

 

To Dorothy Pound, 5 October [1931]

Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III

M/ao

He has done 2nd. version of the J. Q. Adams canto. With this I see a block of four.

Have writ. Neumayer and Zuk. to dig up VanBuren’s autobiography. If by chance you see anyone or pass any other book shop, OR if it cd. be weedled out any library…

Martin VanBuren, somethingth pres. of the U. S. call it the 8th. only sometimes they count the 8 year ones double.///

With 3. in the Hours XXX, 3 in Pagany; and the 4 in prospect, one is on the way toward the 3d. folio vol. 

 

To Dorothy Pound, 10 October [1931]

Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III

Ma/yeaow

[…]

Transd/ a neat bit of Frobenius yesterday/ prob/ do for Nancy’s Blackthology.

Been havin nuther go at KAT Kanto.

Want that VanBuren autobiog.

 

To Dorothy Pound, 25 October 1931

Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III

Mao /

IF she has any xtra NRG she act re the VanBuren autobiog. I dont mean make expedition but if passing any old book shop/ leave my name and address and name of the book. Martin van Buren, about 1830-1840, autobiog/ or anything about him.

 

To Dorothy Pound, 29 October [1931]

Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III

Mao

Zuk seems to be chasing the VanBuren//

 

1932

To Olga Rudge, 2 February [1932]

YCAL 54, 12/299

Ziao/ yeaow:

[…]

VanBuren’s autobiog/ is sposed to be on the way.

 

To Olga Rudge, 10 February 1932

YCAL 54, 12/301

Ziao:

[…]

A wrong van Buren arruv, but better’n nothing.

 

To Olga Rudge, 12 February 1932

YCAL 54, 12/301

Read one bk on VanBuren/ an d ploughed into Hattersley’s “This Age of Plenty” (economics)

and recd/ affable note from Senator Cutting. which I have answered pro bono bpblico.

 

To Olga Rudge, 14 February 1932

YCAL 54, 12/301

Ziao

[…]

he’z got his VanBuren to do, done a nip of it.

[…]

He has digested Hattersley econ/

 

To Olga Rudge, 16 February [1932]

YCAL 54, 12/302

Z/yeaow

[…]

he is pluggin on the crumbs re/ Van B[uren]. I dunno whom you can annoy on the subj/ I want the Autobiography of Mar[t]in Van Buren. Neumayer sends me something not BY but about Van B. ETC//

 

To Olga Rudge, 20 February [1932]

YCAL 54, 12/303

Ziao:

He iz however stuffing along, with his VanBuren [....] 

In fac he has had a 2nd. vol. since day befo yester/ and thass about all he’s got in his head.

 

To Olga Rudge, 27 February [1932]

YCAL 54, 12/305

Ziao/

[…]

Being so GIU hieri [low yesterday] he has chawed into a new chunk of a canto og/ [I. “oggi,” today]

 

To Olga Rudge, 29 February [1932]

YCAL 54, 12/305

Ziao

[…]

he got a start on s’more cantos, and thass that.

[…]

ennyhow he wobbling erlong on three cantos to onct. which is more comforbl/ than setting BO/bloody!RED to deff.

 

To Olga Rudge, 16 April [1932], Rome

YCAL 54, 12/309

Ziao cara.

[…]

no sooner got the Van Buren mem[oir]s out of bib than now coming proof. yet again proofs of the “To” vol.

 

To Olga Rudge, [18 April 1932], [Florence]

YCAL 54, 12/309

Ziao

[…]

Have corrected proofs of due libri [two books] since I got here & am chawin’ thru 800 pages Van Buren. & go’r head ache.

 

To Olga Rudge, [20 April 1932]

YCAL 54, 12/310

Ziao =

[…]

got AT what I wanted in Van B[uren]. & more or less let of -- dirt on the “Bank” 1830-37.

 

To Olga Rudge, [23 April 1932]

YCAL 54, 12/310

Ziao= Mr. Van B quite diverting at moments.

 

To Olga Rudge, 2 November 1932 [Whenzday/ but later]

YCAL 54, 13/323

Ziao

[…]

He has done new draft XXXVII an XXXVIII, or mebbe the’ll count as one.

 

To Olga Rudge, 3 November 1932 [Whenzday/ but later]

YCAL 54, 13/323

Ziao

Not wishin tow inkerrupt her “Mente” but still she might look thru the enc/ and put a light circle in pencil around anything she cant understand.

 

To Olga Rudge, 5 November [1932]

YCAL 54, 13/324

Ziao/

[…]

Thought there was something else. mebbe its only relief at getting rid of bozze/ [drafts] and of getting the Van Buren in some sort of shape. etc. 

 

From Olga Rudge, [5 November 1932]

YCAL 54, 13/324

amore –

She very bucked up at being allowed to see a Canto again - ciao - it quite a stiff one for the “meanest intelligence”! She has put pencil marks at when she broke down. She would like to know 

which were the 2 words Mr V.B said come in with revolution? [“XXXVII l.28”]

“her husband the” what? 

I suppose other people but me would know what “uniform currency” was -- & also what Clay’s argument was or might have been! [“XXXVII l.57”] 

What was “bought back in Monroe’s time?” [“XXXVII l.100”] 

What word happens after “price of crops?” [“XXXVII l.177”] 

What was Braintree house? [“XXXVII l.177”] 

“Son’s seeking like etc”? or sons? [“XXXVII l.178”] 

She is too ignorant to follow XXXVIII I mean what banks did or didn’t - Yeow - it very difficult, I mean I dont know what discounts are - She gathers govnment money in private bank which arranged matters to suit itself? is that right - & is it still cosi [so]? Yeow, it no use her asking more questions & he not bother to answer till she see Him

 

To Olga Rudge, 6 November [1932]

YCAL 54, 13/324

Ziao, cara

The husband wuzza purser not a pruser

simple metaphosis.

forks, bought in Monroe’s time 

leynd// purrnownce itt 

how else does it sound in that langwidg? 

Braintree ‘ouse wuz Mr Adams’ the elder his residence 

his son seeking light. 

the rest of the ’s son’s a nerror in typing.

// wot she gathered wuz O.K. private bank suiting itself with government funds. It wuz fixed in Amurikuh but not yet been fixed in owld Hingland.

 

From Harriet Monroe, 17 December 1932

CHI, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 39/25

Dear E.P.

Your latest arrived when I was “down east” and I have had to think it over seriously.

It would please me very much to print your new Cantos, and to have you resume as for. corres. – the latter provided we are not too far apart on policies and poets. But there are certain facts to be considered. 

I feel more and more that Poetry can hardly last beyond next September, the end of our 21st year. Our guarantor list is already more than half wiped out and very few of the rest can be counted on for another year. […]

In any case, however, I should like to have some Cantos, and some status rerum contributions of prose. I shd like to have you, who were so prominent through Poetry’s first years appear prominently, though I hope not violently, in our (probably) final year.

 

1933

To Olga Rudge, [12 March 1933]

YCAL 54, 13/338

Ziao Cara Amure

[...] 

He sposes she got canto XXXVII (her? ref/ to same not very clear).

 

From Olga Rudge, [15 March 1933]

YCAL 54, 13/339

Ciao Amore – 

She hadseen Canto XXXVII so when it arrived on top of her question to him re present american bank wuzzle she thought he had sent it again as answer – 

She has with her mss - of cantos XXXIV XXXV XXXVI & now XXXVII in case he needs same –

 

To Olga Rudge, [15 March 1933]

YCAL 54, 13/339

Zia, cara amure;

it is time as allus, to EAT/ and he has got to page 4 of a canto, [XXXIX] and possibly the rest only needing copyin’ 

[...] 

an mebbe if he stops now she’ll git a canto domani.

may need a bit er correcting. she seen most of it before. did she get XXXVII 

sent as mss/ fer 60c [Casa 60, St Ambrogio]. no hurry to return but she keep it fer use.

 

To Harriet Monroe, 14 September 1933

CHI, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 39/25; SL 247

Dear Arriet

I know you hate like hell to print me. And that an EPIC includes history and history aint all slush and babies pink toes.

I admit that economics are in themselves uninteresting, but heroism IS poetic, I mean it is fit subject for poesy.

Also re/ my Christmas carol... 

DAMN it all, the only thing between food and starving, between abolition of slums and decent life is a thin barrier of utterly damned stupidity re/ the printing of metal discs or paper strips.

30 years ago people didn’t know. It is a complex AND as simple as Marconi’s controll of electricity.

//

Anyhow Van Buren was a national hero, and the young ought to know it.

also this canto continues after the Adams. Printed separate, it will be clearer than if I pubd/ 35 and 36 next.

Consider than Van’ autobiography lay unprinted from 1860 or so down to 1920. probably because people who knew of it were too god damn stupid to understand it.

ANYHOW the crush of crisis, and Frankie getting into a jam/ NOW that he has seen and admitted half the truth in his “looking forward”.

CAN’T keep the Van B. out of print any longer.

Whoever can think, OUGHT to be made to do it NOW.

(damn my reppertashun fer writin pretty sentimengs).

As there are a few clean and decent pages in the nashunul history, better print ’em. And Van B. was one of ’em. [...]

This canto has a heading

“THOU SHALT NOT” SAID MARTIN VAN BUREN

Canto [X]XXVII

“Thou shalt not” said Martin van Buren,” jail ’em for debt

Note: The layout of the letter presented above follows the one in the archive of the University of Chicago, not the regularized layout of the Selected Letters edited by D.D. Paige.

 

Morton Zabel to Louis Zukofsky, 30 September 1933

YCAL Mss 43, 57/2589

Dear Louis,

We have another Canto – XXXVIIth; XXXV and XXXVI being on ice apparently.

 

From A.R. Orage, 30 October 1933

YCAL 43, 38/1617

I should publish your Cantos XXXI–XLI right away, if I were you. Not one bloody word about your Canto 37, but I have the feeling that it was impressive. That’s mainly why I think you should publish the others: I feel you are being read again with a new kind of interest. Don’t be surprised your No. 37 evoked no commotion. Each week N.E.W is greeted with deafening silence. We must be at the hub of things, the quietest but busiest spot in the wheel.

 

To Harriet Monroe, n.d.

CHI, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 39/26

All right/ go on maintaining slums/ go on preserving the economic system of Insull/ Kreuger/ Harding, and believing Wilson and Hoover the chosen of god and the true guardians of the poor.

Damn it/ do you mean to publish the Van Buren before the book comes out.

Can you conceive writing anything with a purpose. I.E. meaning it to DO something..

Can you get it into yr/ block that by failing to investigate causes of war. Butler and his grafters are doing their utmost to produce another… 

and that the root cause is economic.

 

1934

To Harriet Monroe, 14 January 1934

CHI, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 39/26; Parisi 311

My dear Harriet

Even if you are too stupid to understand the Cantos/ and if you are too bull headed to believe that it is rather unlikely that Ford/ Eliot/ Williams/ etc/ etc. etc/ shd ALL be wrong.

CANT you understand that it is ROTTEN EDITING, after I have released the vanBuren

   TO WAIT until Roosevelt has said it instead of printing it when I said it.

I know the country is populated by muddleheaded mutts etc/ but haven’t you the courage to suppose at least 15 readers of Poetry who can make the difference.

Note: stuck to the archival document of the letter, there is a newspaper clipping from The New York Herald (Paris edition), 13 January 1934: “the President called the latter a bad guess. He noted that this would be retracing the course of president Jackson, who abolished the central bank.” The “latter” might be the question whether to close the Federal Reserve.

 

To J. Laughlin, 22 January 1934

L/JL 16

ALL right/ copies of 35/36 discovered. 

That dry twig, [Harriet Monroe] in Chicago is rooting on 37. [...] 

If you havent already printed 38/ the three ought to make a group/ you can add feetnote/ that 37 deals with Van Buren and has already been announced by the Chicago AshCan [...]

 

From Harriet Monroe, 26 January 1934

CHI, Poetry: A Magazine of Verse 39/26; Parisi 310

Your polite note, just received, seems to imply a desire for political scoops. If your Cantos are not poetry but politics, I suggest that you submit them to the N.Y. Times or the Chicago Tribune. 

Yeats, Eliot, Williams–very imposing names! Have they praised or published your political Cantos XXXIV and XXXVII? 

I regret that the latter (to be in March) is the last of your political manifestos which Poetry will care to have the honor of printing, but we shall always be hospitable to poems less motivated by a desire to instruct the world and the President.

 

To T. S. Eliot, 9 February 1934

L/TSE 7: 72n.2

Whereas the dried monkey/turd in Chikago [Harriet Monroe] ruined the Propertius by printing a frogment […] That old crusted capon is now sabotaging Canto 37 on the grounds that it treats of American history/and that while you and Yeats may have praised the earlier cantos you haven’t praised or printed cantos 31/34 or 37.

The old twat is getting on fer 80/ so no use expecting any great rush of cerebral development where the bases wuz allus lacking.

Harriet’s letter is almost at the level of Squire/ de Selincourt. 

obscenely disgusting in the degree of its stupidity.

And that a snivveling pore misevable pityable; wd-be-mother of morons shd/ still be holding up the traffic. is etc.

 

To Morton Zabel, 9 February 1934

CHI, Morton Zabel Papers 2/28

M/D/Zabel

God damn YOU personally.

Harriet is so old one can’t expect her to learn anything. But you havent that excuse. If you don’t know that for ten years even the most bootlicking adulators of the mag/ cdnt. find much to put in its record, you might turn yr/ eye on that fact and find out which ten years they were.

I suppose the Chicago organization is below any sense of recognition of services. And that I have been a god damn fool from the beginning not to leave the local Dorcas soc/ to drivvle over its own bib/

Also THINK/ if your microcephalous nut can rise to the effort.

For twenty years all the peeving teethers sat round and pewked about divorce of art and life/ also about ameriva subjects.

Proof that they are all baby shit/ to be found sabotaging the first serious attempt to use any American history apart form that already sentimentalized/ or the cheap firecrackers of Spanish War / capitalist=imperialism. Dewey sinking few decrepti  [sic] Spanish tubs/

If you or the pore ole decidous editress can name any writer of any standing who has done more for your stinking mag/ or who (as far as you are concerned) kept yr/ god damn job for you; by interposing very strongly when H/M/ wanted two quit at the end/ of yr/ 20th. year.

Go       to        it    !

Nobody cd/ be expected to forget all the shit I have had piled on my head from the office since 1912/ or the amount of sabotage/ and amount of work temporarily spoiled by the god damn sub human stupidity of the office.

However you grew up in a less ignorant era/ and in the case of not getting Van Buren into print/ you have let me down/ and bigod I am aware of the fact.

You evidently understand nothing/ and you can be damned for a block head/

I suppose sheer craven cowardice/ or is it again shitten soddon stupidity has blocked the Xmas note/ which nobody in yr/ unmannered office had the decency either to acknowledge or return.

Does yr/ piss pot indend

to print 37 as ammounced//

and wait 20 years as usual to find out what you have done//

or is the vote for obscurantism decisive.

Bales of the god damn files full of stuff/ that NOBODY can now recall/

The sense that if American is to have a literature is will be done by a dozen or twenty of the best writers and not by 1000 halfarsed anonymities not only without talent, but without the guts to stick at the job of writing until they are even able to use what brains a spavined american jhv had given ’em…

At any rate what fuckin castrated good are you?

I think it is time Harriet died and the mag/ shut up its yatter. and thass that… she meant well/ she was not a she shit like Amy; trying to shove the worse at the expense of the better/ she was just god damn eternal “DUMB”/

Notes.

The preceding letters to T. S. Eliot and Morton Zabel are Pound’s reaction to Harriet Monroe’s suave note of 26 January 1934. He had sent his canto XXXVII for publication in the Chicago magazine Poetry that she edited in September 1933. 

The “Xmas note” could be the short satirical poem “Hiram my uncle” that was published in the Correspondence section of the magazine in the 4 January 1935 number. Pound called it “Christmas carol” and sent it to Chicago together with canto XXXVII, as his letter to Monroe of 14 September 1933 suggests. Read the poem at the Poetry Foundation.

 

From T. S. Eliot, 22 February, 1934

L/TSE 7: 71-2

Podesta

[…]

WHAT is your Real Idea about Cantotoes? I mean, if (as seems Prudent in view of the Existing State of Legislation) you bring out Farrar & Max first, WHEN can you get those Boys to Name the Day? Should Morley now in N.Y. try to Rustle them a Bit? If so, answer promptlY for it means sending him a Night Letter. Or wd. you rather we kept them till after Xmas? As for us, we take things as they come but we could keep ourselves busy selling Select Essats & Proppertius up till then If you Say the Word Brother Say the Word Essays are being Cast Off and resultswith number of pages, price and contact should reach you before Long

PS You never tell me what I want to Know but will write to Hariette nonetheless.

 

T. S. Eliot to Harriet Monroe, 2 March 1934

L/TSE 7: 82

Dear Miss Monroe,

I have had some mysterious correspondence from Pound, from which very little emerges in the form apprehensible to my intelligence: but I gather that you have either declined or held in suspense one of his Cantos, on the ground that I had either not seen it or failed in some way to express my approval.

Whatever the facts may be, let me make clear my own position with regard to future Cantos. Pound has never been enthusiastic about releasing Cantos one or two at a time for the Criterion, and in consequence I have never pressed the matter. Several years ago he gave me the Malatesta Cantos, since included in the volume of Cantos which Farrar and Rhinehart published in New York and which we published here. He made an exception in offering these because he considered that they formed a kind of unity within the whole. 

I have not, in consequence, seen any of the Cantos which he has written since the first thirty. I believe that one or two have appeared in the New English Weekly, which I seldom see. But Pound knows perfectly well that I should be glad to publish any canto that he cared to have appear in the Criterion. My firm expects to publish in book form all subsequent Cantos in such sections as he wishes, and we expect to bring out a volume containing the next ten or twelve in the autumn. 

The fact of my not having seen etc. a particular Canto in question is, accordingly irrelevant to the whole matter.

 

Canto XXXVII was published as 

“THOU SHALT NOT,” SAID MARTIN VAN BUREN. CANTO XXXVII

Poetry XLIII.6 (Mar. 1934): 297-305. 

P&P VI: 134-8.

 

To James Laughlin, 10 March 1934

L/JL 26

I have been xxxpressive enuff. Now ole Rat/riet has printed the VanBuren XXXVII. that'll do. 

 

Harriet Monroe to T. S. Eliot, 2 April 1934

L/TSE 7: 157

In April 1933 Poetry led off Volume XLII with Canto XXXIV, which was chiefly about early American politics – Adams, Jefferson, Madison, Napoleon, J.Q. Adams, etc. I can’t say I was enthusiastic about its quality as poetry, and when, soon after, he sent us Canto XXXVII, all about Martin van Buren, and, in my opinion, merely choppy prose, I was in no great haste to print it. In January he wrote raging about the delay because he thought (though we couldn’t see it) that some speech of President Roosevelt (he enclosed clipping) had stated ahead of him one of his pearls of political wisdom. Also, he challenged my right to be less appreciative of his Cantos than you and two other authorities. I replied, somewhat less mildly than usual, that Canto XXXVII was listed for March, but that it would be the last one of that kind which we should care to print, that of he was writing politics and not poetry why didn’t he send it to the N.Y. Times, and that I doubted whether you had ever read the two Cantos poetry printed. (I guessed it right in this detail, it seems.)

Evidently you like his recent cantos better than I do if you are willing to print any or all of them in the Criterion. I violated my artistic conscience in giving space to Canto XXXVII

 

T. S. Eliot to Harriet Monroe, 19 April 1934

L/TSE 7: 157-8

Dear Miss Monroe,

I have read with interest your letter of the 2nd instant. The whole matter has been incomprehensible to me before. I think what you have told me [158] is quite enough to enable me to see the outlines of the correspondence between Pound and yourself.

I have since read the canto about van Buren, or about the politics of that party in Poetry, and as I know very little about the period and still less about the party from Pound’s point of view, I found that it conveyed almost nothing to me. It didn’t seem to me a particularly suitable Canto to appear in isolation, although if you have been printing his Cantos consecutively and complete that is a different matter. At the same time I have so much admiration for the technical merits of the remaining Cantos that I should certainly be inclined to take it on faith, pending the appearance of the rest of the work. As for his letters, I hope that you don’t take the violence of his style too seriously; I am completely habituated to it myself. 

 

1935

To Stanley Nott, 11 January 1935

L/SN 20

Dear Nott/

[...]

The Cantos 31-41 OUGHT to start a Jeff/VanBuren interest.

after all that wiper Masters came out with a VanBuren poem shortly after Canto 37 was printed in Chicago.

and the whole of the American bank war, 1830/40 will have to come into fashion as conversational topic. 

 

Cantos LII - LXXI

confucius adams 2