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The Pisan Cantos The 5 stars is for the meticulous and informed edition including detailed notes and commentary As to the content, I find poetry difficult and often tedious, and this text was particularly difficult I can t say I understood much of it Obviously, it requires fartime and effort than I have at present. The only reason I decided to dock a star from this book is because of how bloody difficult it was.Pound continues to both fascinate and frustrate me However, when he is good, he is really on the money The Pisan Cantos is probably the most well known and celebrated and controversial section of Pound s masterpiece epic, The Cantos, but many scholars would also argue that it s one of his best My personal favorites were Canto 79 the lynx Canto , Canto 81 the most famous one with the well known The only reason I decided to dock a star from this book is because of how bloody difficult it was.Pound continues to both fascinate and frustrate me However, when he is good, he is really on the money The Pisan Cantos is probably the most well known and celebrated and controversial section of Pound s masterpiece epic, The Cantos, but many scholars would also argue that it s one of his best My personal favorites were Canto 79 the lynx Canto , Canto 81 the most famous one with the well known pull down thy vanity section and Canto 83 Arrested at the end of WWII by Italian partisans partigiani , Pound was suddenly forcibly removed from his house and put into captivity at the US Military s Detention Training Center DTC in Pisa, where he wrote these famous cantos Pound was put in a death cell or what he also calls a gorilla cage completely open and exposed to the elements, and a bright light shining on his cell at night Eventually Pound had a nervous breakdown when like Odysseus his raft broke and the waters went over him Pound was arrested for his radio broadcasts conducted while Mussolini was still in power He was openly fascist in his political views but what probably got him in really hot water was his criticism of the American financial system and his scathing attacks on people like FDR When The Pisan Cantos, finally published in the late 1940s went on to win the very first ever Bollinger Prize, it caused a great amount of protest, outcry and downright indignation How could a fascist or traitor be awarded such a prize for literature many people said Well do you judge a poet on his controversial political beliefs or just on the quality of his poetry Some say the two can never be separated, that they are invariably intertwined I disagree I am not a fascist, in fact I probably lie at the opposite end of Pound s political spectrum Nonetheless, I did enjoy this book for the most part It was not easy, I struggled, as most people do when they read Pound, with his incredibly dense esoteric references to Confucius, Homer, Plato, Dante, Cavalcanti, Yeats and the list goes on and to make it evendifficult quotes famous writers, poets and philosophers in their original language, which means sometimes ancient Greek, Latin, Provencal, Chinese, French, medieval French, German and so on However, this edition by Richard Sieburth contains excellent endnotes, which admittedly are not exhaustive i.e they do not explain everything in the book but they enable the patient reader to navigate the wild rapids of Pound s modernist poetry, which includes references, quotes, a large number of proper nouns mostly people Pound knew or read , and other explanations of the text While I admire Pound s poetry and writing and high level of esoteric knowledge, it annoys me how he makes the text deliberately difficult for the average reader, which is probably why he is often considered as pretentious And this assessment is not exactly wrong I would say However, as one Yale professor said, the reason he doesn t offer us any references or notes himself is probably because he wants us to sit in the library and experience the same joy that he did uncovering various pieces of information, decoding ancient texts and coming to our own explications.This book is not for the faint of heart It demands patience and commitment But if you decide to read it, you will come out the other side a changed person, as is the case with any great art and it becomes addictive You will then want to pick it up again..some day..once you have recovered from the initial reading experience.Ezra Pound there is nobody quite like him in all of literature Headstrong, hardworking, extremely prolific, extremely foolish to borrow a word WCW was wont to use to describe him in his political views but also someone you MUST one day confront if you are serious about discussing modern or modernist literature Perhaps the most insightful view of the malaise which overtook the world in the first half of the 20th century Pound s attempt to liken Europe after WWI and during WWII as a hell like Dante s Inferno creates an intensity and a viewpoint which has not been matched in the last 60 years. So much depends on this book It is the core of The Cantos And what depends is of personal and cultural importance At the time of writing, Pound was incarcerated in Pisa, facing the charge of treason The only way out from the situation was a plea of insanity Cantos LXXIV LXXXIV are often read in the light of that political situation and dismissed accordingly But this decade of cantos received the Bollingen prize Yale University and came to represent the way forward for American poetry So much depends on this book It is the core of The Cantos And what depends is of personal and cultural importance At the time of writing, Pound was incarcerated in Pisa, facing the charge of treason The only way out from the situation was a plea of insanity Cantos LXXIV LXXXIV are often read in the light of that political situation and dismissed accordingly But this decade of cantos received the Bollingen prize Yale University and came to represent the way forward for American poetry via Olsen and Duncan and projective verse They were not viewed by them as the ramblings of a poet who was criminally insane Difficult they are, but mad they are not The Pisan Cantosis one of the ultimate Modernist tracts I wanted to simultaneously rate this book 1 star and 5 stars Though the poem is, at its heart, a narrative about deep personal crisis, it requires too much from its reader On both the biographical and allusionistic not a word whatever planes, the poem is incredibly oblique If you re willing to give up the time or, in my case, are forced to for class credit , I think the poem can be incredibly rewarding Struggling with Pound s audience, his anti semitism, his language of crisis, etc was I wanted to simultaneously rate this book 1 star and 5 stars Though the poem is, at its heart, a narrative about deep personal crisis, it requires too much from its reader On both the biographical and allusionistic not a word whatever planes, the poem is incredibly oblique If you re willing to give up the time or, in my case, are forced to for class credit , I think the poem can be incredibly rewarding Struggling with Pound s audience, his anti semitism, his language of crisis, etc was enlightening But, in the end, Pound s goals for poetry are quite different than my own I can appreciate this poem, but I will never like it yet say this to the Possum a bang, not a whimper, with a bang not with a whimper, To build the city of Dioce whose terraces are the colour of stars I have tried to write ParadiseDo not moveLet the wind speakthat is paradise.Let the Gods forgive what Ihave madeLet those I love try to forgivewhat I have madeyet say this to the Possum a bang, not a whimper, with a bang not with a whimper, To build the city of Dioce whose terraces are the colour of stars I have tried to write ParadiseDo not moveLet the wind speakthat is paradise.Let the Gods forgive what Ihave madeLet those I love try to forgivewhat I have made Would like to give two extra stars, if possible, for reading Sam Schild s used copy, which is filled with good notes and has many of the ideograms filled out to resemble funny faces in hats. Ezra Pound s The Pisan Cantos was written in , while the poet was being held in an American military detention center near Pisa, Italy, as a result of his pro Fascist wartime broadcasts to America on Radio Rome Imprisoned for some weeks in a wire cage open to the elements, Pound suffered a nervous collapse from the physical and emotional strain Out of the agony of his own inferno came the eleven cantos that became the sixth book of his modernist epic, The Cantos, themselves conceived as a Divine Comedy for our time The Pisan Cantos were published inby New Directions and in the following year were awarded the Bollingen Prize for poetry by the Library of Congress The honor came amid violent controversy, for the dark cloud of treason still hung over Pound, incarcerated in St Elizabeths Hospital for the Criminally Insane Yet there is no doubt that The Pisan Cantos displays some of his finest and most affecting writing, marking an elegaic turn to the personal while synthesizing the philosophical and economic political themes of his previous cantos They are now being published for the first time as a separate paperback, in a fully annotated edition prepared by Richard Sieburth, who also contributes a thoroughgoing introduction, making Pound s master work fully accessible to students and general readers Montage, Collage, ein halbes Dutzend Kultursprachen, freies Versma und ein verst rendes Sammelsurium an Allusionen und Intertextualit t Schwierig zu folgen, keine leichte Kost, aber ergreifend. ATTN Lieutenant Colonel John L Steele7103rd Disciplinary Training CompanyUnited States Army, Metato, ItalyJune 15, 1945Re Ezra Weston Loomis Pound After a thorough examination of Ezra Weston Loomis Pound s mental state, it is my professional opinion that while the patient displays no paranoia, delusions nor hallucinations and there is no evidence of psychosis, neurosis or psychopathy, his prolonged exposure in present environment may precipitate a mental breakdown, of which premonitory s ATTN Lieutenant Colonel John L Steele7103rd Disciplinary Training CompanyUnited States Army, Metato, ItalyJune 15, 1945Re Ezra Weston Loomis Pound After a thorough examination of Ezra Weston Loomis Pound s mental state, it is my professional opinion that while the patient displays no paranoia, delusions nor hallucinations and there is no evidence of psychosis, neurosis or psychopathy, his prolonged exposure in present environment may precipitate a mental breakdown, of which premonitory symptoms are discernible XIV It is my recommendation that the prisoner be moved immediately tosuitable quarters and a transfer to the United States or to an institution in this theatre withadequate facilities for care XIV be considered I am basing my conclusion of the patient s current mental state on several complicated factors that I ask you to consider First, the patient is highly intelligent and imaginative The patient has granted me access to his journal which, though at first I found to be nearly incomprehensible, has provided valuable insight into his mind after a close and careful reading For example, the patient is fluent in numerous languages, including ancient Greek, has a strong grasp of Chinese ideograms, and is able to maintain coherence of thought while abruptly switching from one language to the next In one section of his Cantos, as he calls this journal, he writes of a sort of dwarf morning glory that knots in the grass, which he follows with the medical term for psychological injury, sequelae 37 38 The patient believes he has suffered great psychological trauma and is thus using this passage to express his pain through the image of a small, beautiful flower, which may represent himself, being tangled in a field of grass, which may be significant as he has been detained in cramped, exposed conditions He goes on to write, in French, Le paradis n est pas artificiel paradise is not artificial 38 which in my opinion is his way of expressing that he still has a hope for the future and that his happiness is attainable He also seems to recognize that he is suffering tremendous psychological stress when he writes States of mind are inexplicable to us 38 but then follows, in ancient Greek, with dakruon tears, or weeping repeated three times as if he is painfully aware how his present psychological state is affecting him emotionally Second, the patient is a highly empathetic individual as evidenced in these Cantos with astute observations of idiomatic speech, such as his mimicry of the black prisoners, one of which he transcribes as saying Hey Snag, what s in the bibl what are the books of the bibl Name em Don t bullshit me 51 , but also of hisobscure observations of birds sitting on electrical wires which he interprets and transcribes as musical notation, with 8 birds on a wire or rather on 3 wires 63 Far from turning inward and morose, the patient is keenly aware of every sensation and stimulation around him, but like a SCR 300 used by our Signal Corps which is somehow tuned to every open channel, the patient s mind seems to be like a new Signal Corps Private who is frantically trying to transpose everything coming in over that SCR 300 receiver faithfully but due to the sheer volume of information is experiencing enormous stress in trying to keep up If I may be as bold as to sound poetic, it is as if the patient were tuned into the radio broadcast of all human civilization across all time and space and wants to make sense of it all not only for himself, but for everyone alive.Lastly, the patient retains a firm sense of self in that he expresses very strong opinions about Jews, the economy, and has even requested a meeting with President Truman concerning the state of the Japanese campaign While this may sound alarming and does seem to reek of arrogance and the grandiose, his opinions remain consistent, strangely coherent, and while often reprehensible and perhaps even treasonous, do not seem to, so far, present an imminent threat to himself or others Therefore, it is my professional opinion that Ezra Weston Loomis Pound is not insane, he is just an incredibly talented poet These two conditions are easily confused


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