Han empire



Fourth Dynasty TSIN, Burning of the Books 213

Fifth Dynasty HAN b.c. 202

Eighth Dynasty SUNG a.d. 420

Thirteenth Dynasty TANG 618

 Ezra Pound The Cantos New York: New Directions, 1998. 255


Canto 54 begins with the fall of the Chou dynasty after eight centuries. A new emperor united all China and ‘jacked up astronomy’, but then ‘after 33 years burnt the books’, and his dynasty fell soon after. Then came the Han and an emperor who saw the need to restore the books and the law code and the record of the rites ‘as check on successors’, and who ‘brought calm and abundance’ so that ‘the men in the vaudevilles/ sang of peace and of empire.’ The Han enlightenment lasted over 300 years, and near their end an academy of scholars had the books ‘incised in stone/ 46 tablets set up at the door of the college.’ But by then the emperor ‘was governed by eunuchs,’ there were ‘wars, taxes, oppressions,’ and Taoists and Buddhists were subverting the administrations. The palace eunuchs, and the Taoists and the Buddhists, now figure as the enemy within, enemies even more threatening than the Tartar enemy without, the eunuchs being irresponsible and self-seeking, the Taoists as preferring quietism and private pleasures to public service, and the Buddhists as considering ‘their own welfare only,’ that is, for seeking individual salvation or nirvana while cultivating indifference in the affairs of the world. 

David Moody. Ezra Pound: Poet II: 278.


CANTO XLIX [the “old king” - Emperor Yang of Sui]





 tai tsong of tang



  1. Nolde, John J. “The Sources for Canto LIV: Part One.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 5.3 (1976): 419-53.
  2. Nolde, John J. “The Sources for Canto LIV: Part Two.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 6.1 (1977): 45-98. 
  3. Zolbrod, Leon. “Ezra Pound, Cantos 52, 53 and 54.” Otaru University of Commerce Review of Liberal Arts 13 (Dec. 1956): 173-197. Free online and here.



  1. Cookson, William. “Dynasties: Tsin, Han, Sung & T’ang 213-BC-805 AD.” A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2009. 80-2.
  2. De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: LIV.” Ezra Pound. I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1544-5. 
  3. Fang, Achilles. “Materials for the Study of Pound’s Cantos.” 4 vols. Diss. Harvard U, 1958. Vol I: 107-23.
  4. Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto LIV.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. 1274-8. 
  5. Moody, David A. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press, 2014. 278-9.
  6. Nolde, John. “Canto LIV.” In Blossoms from the East. The China Cantos of Ezra Pound. Orono: National Poetry Foundation 1983. 96-187.
  7. Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto LIV.” In Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound.” Berkeley: U of California P., 1980. I: 213-27.



  1. Guidi, Paolo. “Canto LIV.” Diamond Point intaglio, selective hard ground, lift, etch, aquatint, copperplate. Printed on Arches 88 paper., 25 March 2014. Free online.
  2. Sellar, Gordon. “Canto LIV.” Part 41 of 56 in the series Blogging Ezra Pound’s The Cantos., June 12, 2013. Free online.



Cantos in periodicals

The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174


confucius adams 2


A Draft of XXX Cantos

ship4 for c1

Eleven New Cantos

rsz guido cavalcanti