Article Index




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“Pound’s recent unfinished epic, three cantos of which appear in the American edition of Lustra, proceeds by a very different method than that of Joyce in Ulysses. In appearance, it is a rag-bag of Mr. Pound’s reading in various languages, from which one fragment after another is dragged to light, and illuminated by the beauty of his phrase. [...] And yet the thing has, after one has read it once or twice, a positive coherence; it is an objective and reticent autobiography.”

T. S. Eliot. “A Note on Ezra Pound.” (To-Day, 4 Sept 1918). 


The Three Cantos published in the Chicago magazine Poetry in June-July-August 1917 are Pound’s first attempt at beginning the long poem he had been thinking about since 1904-1905. He was not happy with them and started changing them even before they were published. Pound discarded them altogether when he reworked the material in 1923 for A Draft of XVI Cantos (1925). But the Three Cantos stayed in print in Poetry and his volume Lustra: rather than a false start, they are the laboratory of the cantos to come. Topics, themes, and images presented here were taken up again later at various points in the poem; the last part of Three Cantos III was reworked to be included in Canto I. If Pound had been looking for a way to begin, the writing of these “discarded” cantos was his way of experimenting with available possibilities.

Roxana Preda. The Cantos Project, 2015.








  1. Taylor, Richard, D. Variorum Edition of Three Cantos. A Prototype. Bayreuth: Boomerang Press, 1991.
  2. Bush, Ronald. The Genesis of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992.



  1. Bornstein, George. “Pound’s Parleyings with Robert Browning.” Ezra Pound among the Poets. Ed. George Bornstein. Chicago. U of Chicago P, 1985. 106-127.
  2. Bush, Ron. “The Cantos. The Ur-Cantos.” The Ezra Pound Encyclopedia. Eds. D. Tryphonopoulos and Stephen J. Adams. Westport, CT.: Greenwood Press, 2005. 26. 
  3. Carr, Helen. “The Ur-Cantos.” Readings in The Cantos. Ed. Richard Parker. Clemson: Clemson UP, 2018. 9-32.
  4. Fletcher, Angus. “Ezra Pound’s Egypt and the Origin of the ‘Cantos.’” Twentieth Century Literature 48.1 (Spring 2002): 1-21.
  5. Foster, John L. “Pound’s Revision of Cantos I-III.” Modern Philology 63.3 (1966): 236-245. Go to article.
  6. Giesenkirchen, Michaela. “‘But Sordello, and My Sordello?’: Pound and Browning’s Epic.” Modernism/Modernity 8.4 (2001): 623-642. 



  1. Bacigalupo, Massimo. “Lineaments of Space: From Hugh Selwyn Mauberley to the Early Cantos.” The Forméd Trace. The Later Poetry of Ezra Pound. New York: Columbia UP, 1980. 5-51.
  2. Beasley Rebecca. “A Visual Poetics? From the first Cantos to Mauberley.” Ezra Pound and the Visual Culture of Modernism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 2007. 112-153. [Section: 112-144].
  3. A Serious Character. The Life of Ezra Pound.  New York: Delta, 1988. [Sections: 287-294; 353-354].
  4. De Rachewiltz, Mary, Moody David A., and Joanna Moody eds. Ezra Pound to his Parents. Letters 1895-1929. Oxford UP, 2010.
  5. Dekker, George. “The Cancelled Cantos.” In Sailing after Knowledge. The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1963. 149-154.
  6. Dennis, Helen. A New Approach to the Poetry of Ezra Pound Through the Medieval Provençal Aspect. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Pres, 1996. 246-261.
  7. Eliot, T. S. “A Note on Ezra Pound.” [To-Day, 4 Sept 1918]. The Complete Prose of T. S. Eliot: The Critical Edition. Eds. Jewel Spears Brooker and Ronald Suchard. Vol. 1. Baltimore: JHUP, 2014. 749-753. Project Muse. 21 March 2015.
  8. Flory, Wendy. Ezra Pound and The Cantos: A Record of Struggle. New Haven: Yale UP, 1980. 102-105.
  9. Liebregts, Peter. Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004. 97-131.
  10. Longenbach, James. “Ghosts Patched with Histories.”  Stone Cottage: Pound, Yeats and Modernism. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988. 222-250.
  11. Longenbach, James. “Three Cantos and the War Against Philology.” Modernist Poetics of History. Pound, Eliot, and the Sense of the Past. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1987. 96-131.
  12. Makin, Peter. “Ur-Cantos.” In Pound's Cantos. London: Allen & Unwin, 1985. 49-54.
  13. Moody, David A. “'Three Cantos’: finding his form.” Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. I: The Young Genius 1885-1920. Oxford & New York: Oxford UP, 2007. 306-315.
  14. Ricciardi, Caterina. “Il Rinascimento dei Three Cantos.” EikonesEzra Pound e il Rinascimento. Napoli: Liguori Editore, 1991. 23-64.
  15. Robinson, Peter. “Ezra Pound and Italian Art.” Pound’s Artists. Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts in London, Paris and Italy. London: Tate Gallery Publications, 1985. 121-176. [Section: 124-130.] Print.
  16. Sieburth, Richard. [Notes to Three Cantos (Lustra version)]. Ezra Pound Poems & Translations. New York: Library of America, 2003. 1284-93.
  17. Surette, Leon. A Light from Eleusis. A Study of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. 8-15.
  18. Taylor, Richard D. “Reconstructing Ezra Pound’s Cantos, Variorum Edition – Manuscript Archive – Reading Text.” Ezra Pound and America. Ed. J. Kaye. London: Macmillan, 1992. 132-148.
  19. Wilhelm, J. J. “The Quest for the Cantos (July 1915-December 1916).” Ezra Pound in London and Paris. 1908-1925. University Park: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1990. 178-192.