CANTOS XVIII and XIX

CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION

 

 

These cantos, which Pound called “Geryon,” were written between June and October 1924. They were composed on the typewriter in Paris, just before Pound moved definitively to Rapallo in the autumn of 1924, and sent as a package to Homer Pound in October. They were both published in This Quarter in 1925, together with canto 17.

 

ACKNOWLEDGMENT

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

 

LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS

L/HP

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

L

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

SL

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

 

1919

To Homer Pound, 13 December 1919, London, Holland Place Chambers

L/HP 455

Dear Dad,

[...]

Had tea with Editor of the Times, whom I met before he was so large and monumental a figure. Suppose he has had more to do with smash-up of Austria and creation of various ‘younger nations’ than any other man. 

 

1920

To Homer Pound, 14 January 1920, London, Holland Place Chambers

L/HP 457

Dear Dad,

[...]

The editor of the Times said he wd. be delighted to have my ‘collaboration’. That is an exceedingly urbane phrase which he has picked up on the continent. We agreed that music was the only safe and possible subject I cd. treat without causing riots. But I don't think he had gauged the extent of possible oppositions, at any rate the head of the music dept. is alleged to have fallen ill (probably at the prospect) and nothing has yet happened. I like Steed very much. Also think it no inconsiderable advance that the Times shd. be edited by a man who knows there are countries in Europe not included in Brit. Empire.

He once got a thing of mine into the Lit. Sup. (when he was foreign edtr. not Boss edtr.) but edtr. of said Sup. returned from absence and stopped that little game.

Note: The editor of The Times, Pound is referring to in the two letters above, is Henry Wickham Steed. Pound would use stories that Steed told him in conversation for canto 19. Steed himself printed them in his own autobiography, Through Thirty Years, 1892-1922. A Personal Narrative, which he published in 1924. See Steed’s story: The Czechs and He Sloveny!

 

1924

To Homer Pound, 16 May 1924, Assisi

L/HP 530

Dear Dad:

[...]

Have read vast work on Ferrara - & blocked out course of a few more cantos.

[...]

Am beginning to want typewriter again = sign of awakening energy.

 

To Homer Pound, 21 June or theyreabahts. [1924]. 70 bis [Paris]

L/HP 534-35

Dear Dad

Thanks for letter, very interesting and interesting packets re T.C.P. Looks as if he wd. make a canto also paper money, had just summarized Marco Polo’s note on Kublai Khans issue of paper currency.

Note: “In his packets re T.C.P. [Thaddeus Coleman Pound] Homer had enclosed ‘a piece of scrip’, the paper money issued by his father’s lumber company and valid only in the company store. ‘The town was flooded with it at one time’, he wrote, ‘and it was finally decided that it was not legal and State outlawed it I understand.’ Pound would frequently refer to this company scrip as evidence that different forms of money were possible. Canto 18 begins with Pound’s summary account of Kublai Khan’s currency” (Moody L/HP 535).

 

To Agnes Bedford, August 1924, Paris [Lilly Library]

EPP 61

[I have] ‘another large wad of mss. for cantos to go on with after Bill has got through printing the 16’.

 

To Homer Pound, 23 October 1924, Rapallo

L/HP 544

Dear Dad:

Have shaped up some more cantos; and sent you carbons of two that are more or less finished.

 

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; Slatin 194.

Dear Mother

[...]

Have send 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[igismundo]. M[alatesta]. amply possessed of both; but other figures being often fatally deficient.

 

To Homer Pound, 29 Nov 1924, Rapallo

L/HP 548

Dear Dad:

As to cantos 18-19; there aint no key. Simplest parallel, I can give is radio where you tell who is talking by the noise they make. If your copies are properly punctuated they shd. show where each voice begins and ends. It is NOT a radio.

You hear various people letting cats out of bags at maximum speed. Armaments, finance etc. A ‘great editor’ at least edt. of the woilds best known news sheet, a president of a new nation, or one then in the making, a salesman of battleships, etc. with bits of biography of a distinguished financier, etc.

mostly things you ‘oughtn’t to know’, not if you are to be a good quiet citizen. That’s all.

Who made the bloody war? The cantos belong rather to the hell section of the poem; though I am not sorting it out I the Dantescan manner, cantos I-33 hell, next 33 purgatory, and next 33 paradise.

Am leaving the reader, in most cases, to infer what he is getting. Though re/ two cantos there will be a very narrow margin for error. as you will see, I think, from the book.

 

To R. P. Blackmur, 30 November 1924

L 260-61; SL 189-190

Dear Mr. Blackmur:

[…]

My American publishers do not exist. It becomes more and more evident that the American publisher must be left out of one's calculations. Likewise English and henglish publishers. There may some day be a cheaper continental edition. One hopes that the Three Mts. and McAlmon's press in Paris will lead to some more general system of printing over here. At least I have suggested the matter. I do not, personally, intend to devote much energy to it; and as I see things at present, I shall never again take any steps whatever to arrange publication of any of my work in either England or America. Tant pis pour les indigenes. They will have to cure their own sores and spew out their idols.

There will be a public copy of the XVI in the Malatestiana at Cesena, if Dazzi consents to house it for me. Dad has typescript of XVIII and XIX, but I do not want them commented on, yet. ETC.

 

To Isabel Weston Pound, 3 December 1924, Rapallo

L/HP 549

Dear Mother

[...]

Sample pages of the Cantos, binding, etc. are being exhibited in the rue de l Odeon. I think I sent dad a notice. Am continuing labour on further chunks of the opus.

 

1925

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, May 1925, Rapallo

L/HP 565

Yeas, mong vieux;

[...]

Am not writing for the mentally infirm. Nor have I any interest in keeping up the consecrated humbugs of the ang-sax woild.

Canto XVII deals with a sort of paradiso terrestre. XVIII and XIX, I think you have. Geryon, fraude. You can look it up in yr. Dante. the minor hell of rascality.

XX lotophagoi; further sort of paradiso. or something in that direction.

then some narrative. Medici and Este.

 

To William Bird, 24 August 1925

Lilly Library W. Bird mss. Partly printed in L 273; SL 200

Deer Bull: If you will go thru the archives of the late Mme Rosen, o.b.e., I think you will find a Xtrak from the fascist organ of Rimini stating that the opus is a CAPOLAVORO magnifico.

It was carried thru the village, not on a triumphal ox-cart draped with scarlet, but at any rate with due order by il Commandante. (I declined to see the sindaco, but expressed no unwillingness that he shd. gaze on the edition.)

Marchetti stated that he had shown my poem "anche a Domini Deo".

The copy was placed in the Malatestiana at Cesena by my own honourable hands with fitting inscription, and various of the studiosi were later assembled (in my absence) and those who cdn't stumble thru English 'ad it hexplained. Dazzi very much surprised when I said Hell cantos wd. not travel thru American post. (That shows what a proper Dantescan education will do for a man. He said no modem Eyetalian wd. have the guts to do' em. That they were of a vigore propriamente americano.)

They really need the GERYON to elucidate 'em. I read Dazzi the Sidg., the Hell and the new typescript (Geryon) XVIII and XIX (which you may sho'tly see).

 

Cantos XVII-XIX published in This Quarter 1.2 (Autumn-winter 1925-26)

 

1926

To Homer Pound, 4 March 1926, Rapallo

L/HP 590-91

Satire, my dear Homer; SATIRE!!! Wotcher mean by satire?!?

Those are just the simple facts (cantos 18, 19) wot have taken me a number of years to collect.

And all of ’em by word of mouth or from original actors. Carranza, Massarich, Griffiths, the edtr. of the Times, the owner of Vicars.

Just simple facts, [.........] and [.............] or his pug dog Mr Louse do NOT tell the trusting public.

Baymont is Lamont of Morgans. Benkensdorf, Griffeths Mensdorf, & unknowns, but perfectly real people; the ones that happened to be THERE.

Dont talk to me about satire. This is how it is. What you read in the papers is what you are supposed to believe. Only trouble is that the FACTS are so damn hard to get at.

You understand the NAMES dont matter; what I am trying to give is the STATE of rascality and wangle. <not the “news”>

Note: “Cantos 17, 18 and 19 had appeared in This Quarter, and Homer had commented, ‘I readily see that the 18th is a satire on our times’. The names which ‘don’t matter’ relate to canto 19: Venustiano Carranza (1859-1920) was a leader of the 1913-1915 Mexican revolution; Massarich is Tómaš Masaryk (1850-1937), philosopher statesman and first president of the Czech-Slovak republic- referrred to as the old kindly professor in the canto; Arthur Griffith – referred to as ‘the stubby little man’- was a Sinn Fein leader; the editor of The Times at the time in question was Henry Wickham Steed; the owner of Vickers the armaments manufacturers was Sir basil Zaharoff (1849?-1933), referred to in canto 18 as ‘Zenos Metevsky’; Thomas Lamont (1870-1948) was a junior partner in J. P. Morgan & Co; Count Albert on Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein (1861-1945), referred to in canto 19 as ‘Wurmsdorf’ had been Austro-Hungarian ambassador in London, 1904-14. ‘Mac’ is Robert McAlmon” (Moody L/HP 592).

 

To Olga Rudge, April 1926

EPP 68

“In April he wrote that he had nine cantos more or less finished–they would have been 17-to 25–‘but they don’t make a vollum’. He went on, ‘She suggest a nice simple and continuous subjeck of UNIVERSAL INTEREST, to run from 26 to 33’ which would imply he had it in mind to match the first major division of Dante’s one hundred cantos.”

 

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]

 

From Dorothy Pound, 24 June 1927, London

Lilly Library Pound Mss. III Box 1

Mao

[…]

Saw Gladys Hynes yesterday here. I like her very much. She saw Eden book. & I gave her the p. card with ark. She is I believe quite a serious painter! Is also cutting wood (not wood-cuts)

She had roused up Bunting, & he had written her lots of information on “Geryon”

 

From Dorothy Pound, 17 July 1927, London

Lilly Library Pound Mss. III Box 1

Tea with Gladys Hynes : she has done 4 more caps: I think they are good: quite decorative. She is rather too obvious. But beautifully drawn. She has managed two quite horrible modern financiers pulling too many strings onto some regal puppets.  

I don’t think you’d get anything better … following up Strater into modernity.

 

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 Hynes].

 

1932

To Jonn Drummond, 18 February 1932, Rapallo

SL 239

Dear Mr. Drummond:

[..]

Metevsky is definitely Zaharoff, so far as the facts could be ascertained at the time – none of them contradicted since. Tho of course he stands for a type and a state of mind; and an error in detail wdn’t invalidate him.

 

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

Cantos XXVIII-XXX

The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174

Cantos LII-LXXI

confucius adams 2