481px Vasari Lorenzo

rsz jefferson by charles wesley jarvis 1863 ny city hall













Great art does not depend on the support of riches, but without such aid it will be individual, separate, and spasmodic; it will not group and become a great period. The individual artist will do fine work in corners, to be discovered after his death. […] Great art does not depend upon comfort, it does not depend upon the support of riches. But a great age is brought about only with the aid of wealth, because a great age means the deliberate fostering of genius, the gathering-on and grouping and encouragement of artists.

Ezra Pound “Renaissance” (1914) in Literary Essays 221.


For if Rome was a conquering empire, renaissance Italy evolved the doctrine of the balance of power, first for use inside the peninsula. Italy produced notable peacemakers who based their glory on peace tho’ it came by the sword, Nic. Este, Cosimo, Lorenzo Medici even Sforza condottiero, all men standing for order and, when possible, for moderation.

Ezra Pound Jefferson and/or Mussolini 79.



CANTO II [classical pastoral]

CANTO VIII [art patronage - the standard of Sigismondo Malatesta]

CANTO XVII [classical pastoral]

CANTO XXIII [gods and the human world: Aphrodite]

CANTO XXXI [Thomas Jefferson]

CANTO XLV [patronage vs usury]

CANTO XLVII [nature and the divine]




CANTO XXI – Readings





rsz 1david

rsz 1paul cunningham reading


David Moody. Introduction to Canto XXI. Paul Cunningham reading the canto. Video clip on ucreate.

A Reading of The Cantos of Ezra Pound. II. Cantos of the 1920s.

Edinburgh University, 50 George Square, 5 October 2017.

Photos courtesy of Svetlana Ehtee, October 2017









canto 21 hynes

canto 21 1930

Canto XXI in A Draft of the Cantos 17-27
London: John Rodker, 1928.
Illumination by Gladys Hynes.

   Canto XXI in A Draft of XXX Cantos
   Paris: Hours Press, 1930.
   Capitals by Dorothy Pound.

Note: The above images are not to scale. The 1928 edition is a folio, whereas the 1930 one is pocket-size.








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




Moody, A. David. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007-2015.


Pound, Ezra. The Letters of Ezra Pound, 1907-1941. Ed. D.D. Paige. London: Faber, 1951


Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound to His Parents. Letters 1895-1929. Eds. Mary de Rachewiltz, A David Moody and Joanna Moody. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2010.


Eliot, Thomas Stearns. The Letters of T.S. Eliot. Vol. 1: 1898-1922. Ed. Valerie Eliot; Vol. 2: 1923-1925. Eds. Valerie Eliot and Hugh Haughton. London Faber & Faber, 1988, 2009.


Pound, Ezra. The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound 1907-1941. Ed. D.D. Paige. New York: New Directions, 1971.



T. S. Eliot to his mother, 2 December 1919, 18 Crawford Mansions, London. 

L/TSE 1: 349

My dearest Mother,

I thanked you for the Jefferson in a letter some time ago, and thank you now again. They arrived beautifully packed and in perfect order, and are now on my shelves.

Note: TSE acquired The Complete Works of Thomas Jefferson on his father's death in 1919 (L/TSE 2: 401). As evident from Pound’s letter to his father below, Eliot gave the volumes to Pound straight away.


To Homer Pound, 13 December 1919

L/HP 455

Dear Dad


Have done cantos 5, 6, and 7, each more incomprehensible than the one preceding it; dont know what's to be done about it. [...]

Have been reading works of Thos. Jefferson [...]. Wider knowledge of T.J.’s life and opinions would be a good pill for the Murkhn Peepul; however the little school text books will probably go on telling the little lies some swine thinks ought to be told to the unfortunate young.



To Isabel Weston Pound, 14 January, 1920, London Holland Place Chambers

L/HP 459

Dear Mother


          It is a great pity that Th. Jefferson is not taught in American schools.



To Homer Pound, c. 1 May 1924, Perugia

L/HP 528 

Dear Dad


This note mainly to ask if you know any thing about American Presidents - I have what I need on Wash. & Jefferson but that's about all. - I don’t care a damn about their public eye wash. I want facts indicative of personality.

Is there anything in yr. old vols. of Grant’s Life. - or Blaine’s ‘20 years of congress.’ - or did you pick up anything when you were in Washington or from T.C.P. that threw any light on Garfield - Arthur - G.C. - or whomever happened before Garfield. Lincoln?? (forget dates. Johnson, Grant,?? Hayes. - Garfield - forget if there were any others. -

Can you look over books in Phila library. -

Jefferson’s letters I have read. He was probably the only civilized man who ever held down the job.

(of course it is now accepted that Lincoln was J.Xt & not human. - so I’m not counting him.)

Tyler - Harrison lst possible Monroe. might be the brighter spots in the annals of national bad taste.

I can’t remember the names of a lot of ’em. There was a Johnny named Polk & two bums called Adams// anny how it wd. be more interesting for you to read such of their correspondence as is printed - than to read the pollyanay de nos jours -

I believe Grover has written his own life - but suppose the book’s bunk & designed to tell the young to be industrious.

Any how the earlier occupants are more likely to be interesting.


TSE to Olivia Shakespear, 3 May 1924, Milestone Cottages

L/TSE 2: 401

Dear Mrs Shakespear,

On the contrary, it is possible that Ezra may curse me. To the best of my recollection the complete works of Thomas Jefferson were left at Holland Place Chambers. Ezra had them for a long time and I think that when he went to Paris, we had some discussion as to whether he should return them to me. There are a great many volumes and my flat was already filled with books, so I think that he agreed to store them for me. At any rate I have not got the Jefferson now and I think that you will find them at Holland Place Chambers.


To Homer Pound, 28 May 1924

L/HP 531

Dear Dad


Re executives, I have one or two plums. Geo. W’s death – Jefferson trying to get a gardener who cd. play the french horn in quartette after dinner. (wanted to import one along with a clavicord) Shd. like something of the Lincoln family that hadn’t been worn to death & that didn’t feature J. Christ too heavily – also Grant.

The row of duds begins early with Mr. Adams.


From Dorothy Pound, 29 July 1924, London

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1

Have found the ten vols. of the good Jefferson in two brown paper parcels on shelf over front door! Am glad to have tracked them down. That will have to wait until Sept. when either O.S. or self will look up – Tell me again what you want beside the French horn gardener. 


From Dorothy Pound, 30 July 1924, London

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1

I feel Jefferson deserves yr notice! But imagine that he will go into Cantos (& be the more pleased)


To Dorothy Pound, 4 August 1924 

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1



In the Jefferson I want his account of Washington’s sidestepping the question about Xtianity. I think you might bring back a few vols, and let me read em in Italy. There shd be room for em in the box. Must stir up the box maker. 

Bring a few vols, say 3, of the letters. If not too much trouble. 

The Swinburne vol is I think the 2nd, Poems and Ballads or possibly the 1st. 

My Laus Veneris seems to have most of the 1st pans b in it. 

Anyhow I shd like yo take another vol of S away with me. 

Copy the Rossetti s,v, p [Ou sont les neiges d’antan?] 


From Dorothy Pound, 6 August 1924, London 

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1

Dearest Ming 


I will buy then (I will verify) vol II of Swinburne containing translations & hunt up the Rossetti “Neiges”. I can’t possibly bring over any Jefferson, as my luggage is reduced to one suit-case: but I’ll post them to you. 


To Dorothy Pound, 6 August 1924 

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1

General clearance 


Post Jeffrsn that’s O.K. 


To Dorothy Pound, 13 August 1924 

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1



Have done a little more canto. 


To Dorothy Pound, 30 August 1923

Lilly Library Pound Mss. Box 1 

It is the Jeff. correspondence, not the FREE PRESS that I want. Thanks for the Wash. matter.


To Homer Pound, 25 October 1924, Rapallo

L/HP 545

Dear Dad:


Must start on another LONG hunk of Canti, like the Sigismundo having used up the chop-chop in the five now drafted. (2 of which I have sent you.)

As you say U.S. presidents do not present ALL the features required for the full mind. Am using a bit of Jefferson in the XX or thereabouts.


To Isabel Weston Pound, 1 November 1924, Rapallo

L/HP 547

Dear Mother


Have sent Dad two cantos; and done more, not yet in shape to send. Am, as I possibly wrote him, ready for another long chunk; and trying to find some bhloomin historic character who can be used as illustration of intelligent constructivity. Private life being another requisite. S.M. amply possessed of both; but other figures being often fatally difficient. 

Note: The two cantos Pound sent to his father are 18 and 19 (L/HP 545).



To IWP, 11 February 1925, Rome

L/HP 555

Dear Mother


Have done a little general reading for a Florentine canto. If . that is to say . reading with an idea to their being Florentine cantos if the facts warrant or possible a canto – singular if they dont.


To Homer Pound, 25 March 1925, Rapallo

L/HP 561

Dear Dad:


    Wot ells. Have typed out most of seven cantos, taking it up to XXIII.


To Homer Pound, 28 November 1925, Rapallo

L/HP 561

Dear Dad:


Oh well. I still hope that no democrat will ever sit in the Whitehouse.

But I wish the’d make Tom Jefferson’s works compulsory in the schools [...]

Very hard to get a just formula: BUT if the res publica means anything at all it ought to mean “The Public convenience.”

that is what Jefferson and Co, tried to make it mean. And no nation has ever so betrayed itself  (save possibly in a complete collapse under invasion) in so short a time as America during the past ten years.



To Homer Pound, 3 April, 1927

L/HP 623

Dear Dad:


Rodker is preparing to print Canti XVII-XXVI; and has the mss. for nine of them in hand. I suppose I get another one done by August, or sometime. [17-25]



To Homer Pound, 19 August 1928

L/HP 666

Dear Dad:


Have signed title pages for XVII-XXVII, suppose they will get bound sometime. etc. [...]

Nancy Cunard has taken over Bill B’s printing press, also wants to continue printing. Expecting our illustratess or capitalistress in a week or so. [Gladys Hines].





jeffersons library at monticello



  1. Dasenbrock, Reed Way: “Jefferson and/or Adams: A Shifting Mirror for Mussolini in the Middle Cantos.” ELH 55.2 (1988): 505-526.
  2. Dowthwaite, James. “Canto 21.” Readings in the Cantos. Ed. Richard Parker. Clemson: Clemson UP, 2018. 201-12.
  3. Houwen, Andrew. “Ezra Pound’s Early Cantos and His Translation of Takasago.” Review of English Studies 65.269 (2014): 321-341.
  4. Knapp, James F. “Discontinuous Form in Modern Poetry: Myth and Counter-Myth.” boundary 2 12.1 (Autumn 1983): 149-166.
  5. Peter Liebregts, “‘Damned to you Midas, Midas lacking a Pan’: Ezra Pound and the Use of Pan.” Ezra Pound’s Green World: Nature, Landscape and Language. Eds. Walter Baumann and Caterina Ricciardi. Brighton: Everett Root Publishers, 2019. 123-136.
  6. Nicholls, Peter. “Gold and Gloom in Ravenna: On a Line in Ezra Pound’s Cantos.” Modern Philology 119.4 (May 2022): 535-554. Abstract.



  1. Bacigalupo, Massimo. “Annotazioni XXI.” Ezra Pound XXX Cantos. Parma: Ugo Guanda, 2012. 347. 
  2. Bacigalupo, Massimo. The Forméd Trace. The Later Poetry of Ezra Pound. New York: Columbia UP, 1980. 426.
  3. Bush, Ronald. 1976. The Genesis of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1992. 102; 118.
  4. Cookson, William. “The Medici-Florence.” A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2001. 34-36. 
  5. Davenport, Guy. “The Discontinuous Gods.” In Cities on Hills. A Study of I-XXX of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Epping: Bowker, 1983. 212-14.
  6. Davenport, Guy. “Persephone’s Ezra.” New Approaches to Ezra Pound. Ed. Eva Hesse. London: Faber, 1969. 155-56; Ezra Pound’s Cantos. A Casebook. Ed. Peter Makin. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 47-64. 
  7. De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: XXI [Medici].” Ezra Pound I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1515. 
  8. Flory, Wendy. Ezra Pound and The Cantos: A Record of Struggle. New Haven: Yale UP, 1980. 123. 
  9. Furia, Philip. Pound’s Cantos Declassified.  University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1984. 47-49.
  10. Gibson, Mary Ellis. Epic Reinvented: Ezra Pound and the Victorians. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1995. 117-18.
  11. Hesse, Eva. “Books behind The Cantos. Part One: Canto I-XXX.” Paideuma 1.2 (Winter 1972): 150.
  12. Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto XXI.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. Eds. Manfred Pfister and Heinz Ickstadt. Zurich: Arche Literatur Verlag, 2013. 1226-28.
  13. Kenner, Hugh. The Pound Era. London: Faber, 1971. 343.
  14. Korg, Jacob. “The Cantos.” Ritual and Experiment in Modern Poetry. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 1995.
  15. Liebregts, Peter. “Canto XXI and To KALON.” Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP 2004. 185-186.
  16. Makin, Peter. “Cantos XXI and XXV.” Pound’s Cantos. London: Allen & Unwin, 1985. 158-62.
  17. Moody, David A. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man & His Work. Vol. II: The Epic Years. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014. 85-86.
  18. Nassar, Eugene Paul. The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Lyric Mode. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins UP, 1975. 42-44.
  19. Oderman, Kevin. “Extracts from Ezra Pound and the Erotic Medium.” Ezra Pound’s Cantos. A Casebook. Ed. Peter Makin. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2006. 138. 
  20. Ricciardi, Caterina. “Tempus Loquendi: il ‘monumento’ di Jefferson e Adams.” In  Ezra Pound: Ghiande di luce.  Rimini: Raffaelli Editore, 2006. 99-120.
  21. Surette, Leon. A Light from Eleusis: A Study of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1979. 46-47.
  22. Terrell, Carroll F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California P, 1993. 85-89. 



  1. “Canto XXI.” A Canto a Day. Blog, 7 February 2009. Accessed 4 August 2018. Free online.
  2. Guidi, Paolo. “Canto XXI.” The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Etching series. 4 October 2012. Accessed 6 December 2017. 
  3. Sawyer, Richard. “The Golden Tiger Mysteries in Canto 21 & the Fire-Kindling Rite in Canto 39.” The Cantos Project, 16 February 2020. Free online.
  4. Sellar, Gord. “Blogging Pound’s The Cantos: Canto XX-XXII.”, 5 June 2012. Web. 30 Oct. 2015. Free online.


Cantos in periodicals

Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

lake garda 267823





A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of XVI Cantos

Eleven New Cantos

rsz guido cavalcanti


The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174


confucius adams 2