It need hardly be said that for the last century or more, the practice of governments has been to neglect internal economy; to commit every conceivable villainy, devilry and idiocy and to employ foreign affairs, conquests, dumpings, exploitations as a means of distracting attention from conditions at home, or to use the spoils of savages as palliatives to domestic sores or in producing an eyewash of ‘prosperity’. In the sense that such prosperity is useful as ‘bait’; as spectacular fortunes; as the chance of getting rich.
Ezra Pound. ABC of Economics (1933). Selected Prose 245.
AN INTELLIGENT SALESMAN’S GUIDE TO THE ARMAMENTS INDUSTRY
The purchasers of armaments are Governments. The success of the business, therefore, depends upon persuading Governments to buy.
No Government wishes to spend money. Taxation is unpopular. But every Government will spend money on armaments if convinced that the expenditure is necessary for national defence.
Therefore the first things an armament firm must do is to convince Governments that its articles are indispensable for this purpose.
An armament firm produces a new type of death-dealing instrument and submits it to a Government. The instrument is costly. The Government knows that no rival Power possesses it, and turns it down.
The armament firm is not discouraged. It knows that it has only to get one Government to buy the new type of death-dealer and immediately all governments will buy. Any War Minister who neglected to order the latest weapons in use would betray the sacred cause of national defence.
So the armament firm seeks out some Government which is nervous about the arms of some rival nation. “Take this new invention,” says the firm, “and you need fear your rival no longer.”
Or the firm seeks out some small nation just launching out in armaments expenditure, with a Government or ruler who will take pride in possessing the first of a new type of armament.
It does not matter how insignificant the Government is: once get the new invention on the market and no Government will dare to be without it.
But sometimes there is a difficulty. The Governments of small nations cannot afford to buy. So comes the second principle of armament selling: Governments must be lent money if necessary. That involves a close relationship with the banks.
It will be convenient, therefore, if armament directors happen to be bank directors; perhaps the armament firm will run a bank itself to facilitate the loan. The loan will be made on conditions that orders are placed with the firm.
The next necessity in the technique of armament salesmanship is the use of Press influence. The heavy sale of armaments depends upon the state of tension in international relations. Therefore public psychology must be kept nervous. This not only involves making the Press of your own country suspicious of other countries: the Press of other countries must be nervous of the intentions of your country.
Armament salesmanship therefore requires close connection with the Press. Own newspapers if you can. Some of your directors should certainly also be directors of newspapers. Don’t be too squeamish about the truth of your stories. Publicity knows no morals. Good business depends upon war scares. Foment them!
Fenner Brockway. The Bloody Traffic. London: Victor Gollancz, 1933. 28-31.
[The canto is an] ideogram composed of what was in the news in the mind of Europe in the 1920s and early 1930s, and signifying the lack of vital intelligence in that news. The immediate effect of the passage is rather like glancing through a newspaper and registering one miscellaneous item after another—the day’s news, gossip, titbits of interest, information both relevant and useless, opinions informed and misinformed, sheer silliness—all are indiscriminately thrown together. The news that the Italian marshes have been drained at last is buried in a brief item, with no thought given to how it was done or what it might signify. Gandhi’s revolutionary thought, “if we don’t buy any cotton/ and at the same time don’t buy any guns,” receives no more attention than the soap and bones dealer’s precisely wrong assurance, in May 1914, that there would be no war […]
In all that heap of news one looks in vain for a European paideuma to set alongside Jefferson’s American paideuma, for a sense of values held in common, for some basis for constructive action beyond the business of making money from guns. And one looks in vain for what Pound clearly considered the most vital news, first, Douglas’s potentially life-saving and civilization-saving revelation of the economic cause of depressions and wars, and then intelligence of the war against humanity being carried on by the military-industrial complex. There is the ironic suggestion that the Africans who ‘spell words with a drum beat’ may be more efficient at getting their message through.
David Moody. Ezra Pound: Poet II: 174-5.
HELL CANTOS: XIV and XV [capital, politics and the press - the British case]
CANTO XVI [World War I - the French view]
GERYON: CANTOS XVIII AND XIX [Basil Zaharoff and the armaments salesmaship]
CANTO XXII [C.H. Douglas and J. M. Keynes]
CANTO XXVII [pre-war European cultural decadence and the Soviet revolution]
CANTO XXXV [central Europe after 1918]
CANTO XLVI [finance and industry]
Ezra Pound and Dorothy Pound. Canto XXIX. In Shakespear’s Pound: Illuminated Cantos.
Nacogdoches, TX: LaNana Creek Press, [Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing], 1999.
Photo reproduction courtesy of Walter Baumann.
CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION
Correspondence by Ezra Pound: (c) Mary de Rachewiltz and the Estate of Omar S. Pound. Reproduced by permission.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Moody, David. Ezra Pound: Poet. Volume II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford : Oxford UP, 2014.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound and Senator Bronson Cutting: A Political Correspondence 1930-1935. Eds. E. P. Walkiewicz and Hugh Witemeyer. Albuquerque: UP of New Mexico, 1995.
Pound, Ezra. Pound/Ford: The Story of a Literary Friendship. Ed. Brita Lindberg-Seyersted. New York: New Directions, 1982.
Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound and James Laughlin: Selected Letters. Ed. David M. Gordon. New York: Norton, 1994.
Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Letters of T. S. Eliot. Volume 7: 1934-1935. Eds. Valerie Eliot and John Haffenden. London: Faber, 2017.
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.
Pound, Ezra. The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D.D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1971.
Beinecke Library, Olga Rudge Papers, YCAL 54. Box no/ Folder no.
To Dorothy Pound, 23 May 1928, Vienna
Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III
Neues Wiener Journal reporter this a.m. says they are here accustomed to an Emperor and now need a Buddah - offers me the role.
From W. B. Yeats to T. Sturge Moore, 1929
Guy Davenport, “Pound and Frobenius” 35
“Ezra Pound has just been in. He says, ‘Spengler is a Wells who has founded himself on German scholarship instead of English journalism.’ He is sunk in Frobenius, Spengler’s German source, and finds him a most interesting person. Frobenius suggested the idea that cultures (including arts and sciences) arise out of races, express those races as if they were fruit and leaves in a pre-ordained order and perish with them. ... He proved from his logic–some German told Ezra–that a certain civilization must have existed at a certain spot in Africa and then went and dug it up. He proved his case all through by African research.”
To Olga Rudge, [25 July 1930], Rapallo
YCAL 54, 9/221
He has red most of one vol of Herr Frobenius.
Note. Pound had acquired Leo Frobenius’s Erlebte Erdteile (7 vols) and was reading them in German.
To Olga Rudge, [29 July 1930]
YCAL 54, 9/221
Have finished one Frobenius and entered another.
To Dorothy Pound, 1 October 1931
Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III
Finished J.Q.A. yesterday. oggi chewed thru most of Dex Kimball on industrial economics; which Sraff now thinks he wants returned before he leaves.
J.Q.A. – John Quincy Adams. Pound finished reading Adams’s Diary, which is the source of canto 34.
oggi - It. “today.”
De Kimball – Dexter Kimball, American professor at Cornell, author of Industrial Economics, which Pound uses as a source for this canto.
Sraff – Angelo Sraffa, “a citizen of Rapallo, was a jurist, a professor at the University of Milan, and a founder of the Università Commerciale Bocconi in Milan, where EP lectured in 1933 on economics and American History” (L/BC 60). Sraffa is important for canto 35 (he gave Pound the Rivista del diritto commerciale, where Pound found the ideas of reform in Mantua). He also mediated Pound’s lectures on economics and literature at the Università Commerciale Bocconi in Milan, in March 1933. The schedule of the lectures resemble the plan of Eleven New Cantos.
To Bronson Cutting, 9 October 1931
My dear Senator,
And shd. also like to know how Dexter Kimball is regarded outside academic circles. (head of a dept. at (I think Cornell) and has written on Industrial Economics).
To Olga Rudge, 6 February 1932
YCAL 54, 12/300
I advised SAM against White Ladyship as seems to me more suited to private circ//
SAM – Samuel Putnam, American editor and publisher.
Black Man and White Ladyship was a pamphlet published by Nancy Cunard in protest against the racism of her mother and British aristocracy more generally.
To Olga Rudge, 2 November 1932
YCAL 54, 13/323
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
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.
From Olga Rudge, [5 November 1932]
YCAL 54, 13/324
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 [It. "so"]? Yeow, it no use her asking more questions & he not bother to answer till she see Him
To Olga Rudge, 6 November 
YCAL 54, 13/324
The husband wuzza purser not a pruser
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.
To William Bird, 15 January 1933
Re Comité des Forges. What is yr. op. re the followin inf. recd: Seul le Petit Parisien, Pet. Journal, Journal, L’Oeuvre, et les journaux d’extrême gauche. Populaire, Humanité, sont libres de tout contrôle financiel de la part Comité des Forges. Il peuvent avoir des contracts avec des journaux commandités par la comité d’un pt. de vue d’affairs (publicité) mais ceci n’entravent pas leur liberté.
[Only Le Petit Parisien, Petit Journal, Journal, L’Oeuvre, and the newspapers of the far left. Populaire, Humanité are free of all financial control on the part of the Comité des Forges (National Association of the Steel Industries). They can have contracts with the newspapers sponsored by the Comité from the point of view of public affairs (advertising) but this does not contravene its freedom.]
Note. William Bird was an American journalist living in Paris and the publisher of A Draft of XVI Cantos (1925). After Pound moved to Rapallo, he continued to correspond with Bird on political matters.
From Olga Rudge, [17 March 1933]
YCAL 54, 13/339
She got XXXVIII which she had seen - but likes it more & more - & she hopes all these last ones will be published soon in a hurry because really al momento presente they are vury xciting – & why should posterity get all the thrills
To Olga Rudge, [18 March 1933]
YCAL 54, 13/340
Yes he whopes she likes it better/ having completely rewritten etc. it OUGHT dn/ well etc.
From A. R. Orage, 19 September 1933
YCAL 43, 38/1617
My dear E.P./
You little know how true your words wuz, – about a birthday present! A few hours ago a daughter was born to me; & I can imagine no greater honour than your Ode.
Thank you more than you know.
I’ll have it set up at once & a proof sent to you.
Do you know, I think it will make history!
Note. Orage refers to canto 38, whose proofs he had received on that day. He felt that Pound’s presentation of Douglas’s A+B Theorem in the canto (“A factory/ has also another aspect”) is an ode to the Social Credit movement and a homage to him as well.
From T. S. Eliot, 21 September 1933
L/TSE 6: 44-45
Dear Rabbett Well Ive got to do something about somethink sooner or later and well to-day its Raining. so Here goes […] The Cantoes is all right but here & there a little humanitarian pus might aye been squeesed out you need a canto or two with a REAL hell in it somebody feeling something but I know I know 300 years of Calvinism from Calvin to Cooledge makes it come hard.
Note. Eliot is referring to the Hell Cantos (XIV-XV), as by the date of his letter he had not yet seen the Eleven New Cantos. In his response, Pound naturally brings together the Hell Cantos with canto XXXVIII as diagnoses of contemporary England. See letter of 24 September 1933 below.
To Olga Rudge, [23 September 1933]
YCAL 54, 14/358
Ziao, cara amure
vurry XXXhausted. recd. both the Brockway guns and Venalité de la Presse/ have oggi [today] extracted 4 pages solid notes toward XLIII or 44/ and more ahead.
Orage very pleased with 38// proofs returned to him. I sent it fer birthday of N.E.W. and it arruv fer birth of Orage figlia [daughter].
Pound received two very relevant books too late for inclusion into canto 38: Fenner Brockway's The Bloody Traffic (London: Gollancz, 1933) and A. G. Raffalovitch. L’Abominable vénalité de la presse.’ D'après les documents des archives russes (1897-1917). (Paris: Librairie du travail, 1931).
Orage very pleased – A. R. Orage was publishing canto 38 in his magazine, The New English Weekly, which had been founded in April 1932. Pound submitted the poem in April 1933 and returned proofs in September, when Orage's daughter was born.
To T. S. Eliot, 24 September 1933
L/TSE 6: 45n.1
Mebbe 38 which Mr O’Rage izza kindly printin this week, will sa’zisfy yr/ craving for a really theological HELL. I’ve got a few more details for the preliminary round of that distrist, cantos whatever XIV and XV but judging by Morely’s prudence re/ names, purrhaps I am doing well to reserve ‘em for later editions.
so long as the pus is humanitarian and not Babbity humanism, praps that also can pass/ it is extractable, it don’t so infect all the circumjacence…
That Calvinical work … etc.
yr/ sentence lacks definition/// are my protagonists or protozoists to have just emotions in general or some partikkeler BRAND of ditto??
Note. Morely is Frank Morley, editor at Faber and Eliot’s colleague.
Canto XXXVIII is published in the New English Weekly on 28 September 1933.
P&P VI: 75-77.
From T. S. Eliot, 29 September 1933
L/TSE 6: 57-58
Dear BRabet […] Well well thats just it there aint anythink real about blokes like Rothermere Beaverbrook Mellon and Henri Deterding I dont know who Lawrence is No matter and you cant make them real Its beyond Shakesp. etc. to give them individuality there are just types politicians profiteers financiers newspapersprops. & pressgangs, Calvin, the English, Vicecrusaders, liars, stupids pedants preachers bishops lady golfers fabian conservatives inperialists & people who dont  believe Major Douglas, etc. I dont see what you can do with Hell without Sin and sinners This is not a theological argument its just the way it seems to me thing hang together or dont It may be allright just as an interlude in Limbo but it wants to be supported by a real Hell underneath with real people in it Put me in if you Like Anyway without that it just Oh well no more for the present from yours etc.
To T. S. Eliot, 2 October 1933
L/TSE 6: 58 n.1
Homer got on O/K/ without very much hell. There is an wuz shades (Ah dont mean buck niggush) but indefinite an wafty dark shadows etc.
There is SHIT, and what the god damn prots/ have lost is the good ole cawflik [catholic] concept of mind-shit rottenness and STINK of the mind or soul or pussYYchee or wotever…
As fer makin the bustuds real/ you git the current New Eng/ Weekly sept. 28 an read my 38 epistle to the gophesians…
I dunno wot I’d do with you in hell/ purgatory you have wafted abaht in/ I daresay…
If I had anything to do about you or any other dam possum I shd/ christlikely try to pull you out.
What the hell/ aint there no yap about atonement in any of yr halfmasted, but orderly=sentence=producing bloody theologians?
To return to my poem/ the idea that they suffer might be one thing, but their STINK is a fact. I smell’zum.
As for the theology of the CANTOS / I don't spect a dod damn low down Christianly perverted animal or in fact anyone to git ANY idea of it furr years and yearrrs.
To Ford Madox Ford, 16 November 1933
L/FMF 134; EPP 173, 378
Now as to HELL, you god damn ignorant pseudo-catholic, have you ever read what authorities have said on the subject, and is there anything (in my hell) save the signs of modern progress in contraceptives, that aint found in the most catholic of mediaeval sermons.
The reason this age is such a mass of snot IS purrcisely because the idea of mental ROT has been mislaid. (Protestant shallows.)
All they can smell is sewer. The idea that Jum Douglas of the Sunday Morning Stool, and 99 percent of Brit pubcation STINKS ... has been eliminated from ang/shaxon imagination.
DECOMPOSITION ... god damn it. Them cantos ARE London after teh war ... the nearest thing to the exact word attainable...
lyric, I admit, and greater force is in Canto XXXVIII. where is FACTS where facts is what there aint nothing else BUT.
THAT IS THE STATE of ENGLISH MIND in 1919. MIND in England of the post war epotch.
Get a photo of Beaverbrooks moog ef yew doant beeleev it.
To James Laughlin, 1 January 1934
re/ Douglas ... I believe the new econ/ is good for all industry. only bank lice. to be killed off.
At any rate talk Proudhon, Gesell, Douglas ... that is wide enough so you cant be called a crank. get the econ/ students to heckle and ask questions first on Proud then Ges/ then Doug/ [...]
I want canto 38 in print for people like that. De K[ruif]/ is friend of Wallace/ (Henry Wallace (sec / of Ag. or something of that sort.) and proposes to ram ABC... into him).
To James Laughlin, 8 January 1934
Dear J/ L/
Note from MacLeish sez Farrar izza going on with the CANTOS/ [...]
Therefore no intellexhul need for sep/ edtn/ of a “38” Unless already done. If its in press/ thass O.K. If not DONT waste any more time on it/ or NRG [energy].
To James Laughlin, 22 January 1934
ALL right/ copies of 35/36 discovered. [...] If you havent already 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. [...] If 35/36/38 dont show main design at any rate they indicate variety of the opus.
Canto XXXVIII is published in The Harvard Advocate
CXX.4 (February 1934): 24-6. P&P VI: 126-7.
To Bronson Cutting, [Feb. Mar. 1934]
My dear Senator
IF you can bust press boycott/ which is run by De Wendel (hell incarnate), Vickers, Rothermere, Deterding, I suppose DuPont or who? Mellon etc.
IF you can (without even putting yourself in danger by professing a given doctrine) but by forcing DISCUSSION of the three questions I have put, you can definitely LET in the decent English, and put out the god damn scoundrels.
The questions ARE, once again:
- What is an auxiliary currency?
- When money is rented, who ought to pay the rent, the man who has it when the rent falls due, or sone fellow who hasn’t??
- What is the result of every factory, every industry, under present (dog dratted idiotic system) producing prices faster than it emits the power to buy..???
Internal disorder makes war.
To James Laughlin, 10 March, 1934
Cantos not to be given away [...]
You are welcome to 38/ at that price. But no more to be sold under $100 each to ANYONE.
To James Laughlin, 25 March 
Better let the last canto stay NEW for the Book/ unless someone will pay. The 37 and 38 were the ones NEEDED at once.
To C. K. Ogden, 28 January 1935, Rapallo
Re Frobenius and Bruhl. Intelligence is so ... rare that when one, onct in 10 years, finds traces of it, the fact shd. cause joy. Bruhl just a professor. Frobenius thinks.
XXXVIII – BIBLIOGRAPHY
ARTICLES IN JOURNALS AND COLLECTIONS
- Davenport, Guy. “Pound and Frobenius.” Motive and Method in the Cantos of Ezra Pound. Ed. Lewis Leary. New York: Columbia UP, 1954. 33-59.
- Hesse, Eva. “Answers to Queries.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 5.2 (1976): 345-48.
- Hesse, Eva. “Frobenius as Rainmaker.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 1.1 (1972): 85-8.
- Steven, Mark. “Ezra Pound and Mr Marx, Karl.” A Companion to Ezra Pound's Economics. Eds. Ralf Lüfter and Roxana Preda. Nordhausen: Traugott Bautz, 2019. 235-54.
- Witemeyer, Hugh. “Pound and the Cantos: ‘Ply Over Ply’.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 8.2 (1979): 229-35.
- Albright, Daniel. “Early Cantos.” The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound. Ed. Ira Nadel. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1999. 87.
- Cookson, William. “The Arms Trade.” A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2009. 53-4.
- Davis, Earle. Vision Fugitive: Ezra Pound and Economics. Lawrence KS.: The UP of Kansas, 1968. 19-25; 127-8.
- De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: XXXVIII.” Ezra Pound. I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1526.
- Dowthwaite, James. “Axiological Relativism in The Cantos: Reading ‘Canto XXXVIII.’” Ezra Pound and 2oth-Century Theories of Language: Faith with the Word. London: Routledge, 2019.
- Emery, Clark Mixon. Ideas Into Action: A Study of Pound’s Cantos. Miami: U of Miami P., 1958. 81-82 passim.
- Froula, Christine. “Canto XXXVIII.” In A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems. New York: New Directions, 1983. 163-72.
- Kenner, Hugh. The Pound Era. London: Faber, 1971. 113-4; 306-7.
- Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto XXXVIII.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. 1250-52.
- Kearns, George. “From canto 38.” Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Cantos. New Brunswick: Rutgers UP, 1980. 92-99.
- Liebregts, Peter. Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004. 224-5.
- Marsh, Alec. Money and Modernity. Pound, Williams and the Spirit of Jefferson. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama Press, 1998. 219-22.
- Moody, David. Ezra Pound: Poet. Vol. II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014. 173-5.
- Sieburth, Richard. “Notes: Canto XXXVIII.” Ezra Pound New Selected Poems and Translations. Ed. Richard Sieburth. New York: New Directions, 2010. 319-21.
- Stock, Noel. Reading the Cantos. A Study of Meaning in Ezra Pound. New York: Pantheon Books, 1966. 29-30.
- Surette, Leon. Pound in Purgatory. From Economic Radicalism to Anti-Semitism. Urbana: U. of Illinois P, 1999. 28-9.
- Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto XXXVIII.” A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: California UP, 1993. 154-59.
- Zacharasiewicz, Waldemar. Transatlantic Networks and the Perception and Representation of Vienna and Austria between the 1920s and 1950s. Vienna: Austrian Academy of Sciences Press, 2018. 229.
- “Ezra Pound: Canto XXXVIII.” The Coffee philosopher, 13 June 2011. Go to site.
- “Ez Said: (Canto XXXVIII).” A Canto a Day. Blog. 8 April 2009. Go to site.
- Guidi, Paolo. “Canto 38.” Etching. 2 January 2013. Go to site.
- Sellar, Gordon. “Blogging Pound’s The Cantos: Cantos XXXVII-XXXIX.” gordsellar.com, 31 August 2012. Go to site.