Of the changes which the seasons bring with them, the most striking within the temperate zone are those which affect vegetation. The influence of the seasons on animals, though great, is not nearly so manifest. Hence it is natural that in the magical dramas designed to dispel winter and bring back spring the emphasis should be laid on vegetation, and that trees and plants should figure in them more prominently than beasts and birds. Yet the two sides of life, the vegetable and the animal, were not dissociated in the minds of those who observed the ceremonies. Indeed they commonly believed that the tie between the animal and the vegetable world was even closer than it really is; hence they often combined the dramatic representation of reviving plants with a real or a dramatic union of the sexes for the purpose of furthering at the same time and by the same act the multiplication of fruits, of animals, and of men. To them the principle of life and fertility, whether animal or vegetable, was one and indivisible. […]
Nowhere, apparently, have these rites been more widely and solemnly celebrated than in the lands which border the Eastern Mediterranean. Under the names of Osiris, Tammuz, Adonis, and Attis, the peoples of Egypt and Western Asia represented the yearly decay and revival of life, especially of vegetable life, which they personified as a god who annually died and rose again from the dead. In name and detail the rites varied from place to place: in substance they were the same. The supposed death and resurrection of this oriental deity, a god of many names but of essentially one nature is now to be examined.
James Frazer The Golden Bough 325.
Canto I suggests that the original and natural human consciousness is one that sees the presence of the holy in the world. The “home” Pound Ulysses seeks is not a place but a way of being, not the familiar world of civilized duties but the lost and recoverable consciousness we originally enjoyed. The vision of Aphrodite that ends Canto I signals the return to this consciousness that once was ours but that the passage of humanity from the state of nature to civilization, a passage increasingly marked by the desensitizing effects of usura, has obscured but not destroyed. If in history we have been so corrupted that we no longer see the holy, then we must follow Pound’s centrifugal movement outward and away from the present set of conditions that determine human consciousness, away from and before all history, if we can ever reach our proper home, a holy consciousness.
Stephen Sicari “Ulysses as a Fascist Hero” 150.
CANTO I [Odysseus and his journey to Aphrodite]
CANTO II [revelation of the divine; sexuality and the sea]
CANTO XVII [Nerea’s cave; Zagreus, a god of the underworld]
CANTO XXI [the gods in nature; revival of ritual; life and work as divine]
CANTO XXIII [Aprodite’s lovers: Anchises vs Adonis]
CANTO XXIX [sex and modernity]
CANTO XXXIX [nature and the mystery of sex]
CANTO XLV [usura is contra naturam; whores for Eleusis]
CANTO XLIX [the power over the wild beasts]
CANTO LII [correlating Hesiod and the Li Ki]
CANTO XLVII - READINGS
Peter Liebregts. Introduction to Canto XLVII.
Paul Cunningham reading the canto. Videoclip on ucreate.
Readings in The Cantos of Ezra Pound. IV. Cantos of the 1930s.
Edinburgh Scottish Poetry Library, 23 January 2020.
Photo and camera courtesy of John Glendinning, 9 May 2019.
Copyright © 1934, 1968 by Ezra Pound. Used by permission of New Directions Publishing Corp.
CALENDAR OF COMPOSITION
Pound finished canto 46 at the end of January 1936; canto 47 may have been begun a few days later, as the letter to Olga on 4 February indicates. The canto was then laid aside for a few months and finalized in September-October 1936.
Correspondence by Ezra Pound: ©Mary de Rachewiltz and the Estate of Omar S. Pound. Reproduced by permission.
LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS
Harry Ransom Research Center, University of Texas at Austin. Ezra Pound Papers Box no/ Folder no.
Pound, Ezra. Jefferson and/or Mussolini. Fascism as I Have Seen It. . London: Stanley Nott, 1935. pdf.
Pound/Laughlin. Selected Letters. Ed. David M. Gordon. New York: Norton, 1994.
Taylor, Richard. “Editing the Variorum Cantos: Process and Policy.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 31.1-3 (2002): 311-34. [References in square brackets by Taylor in text.]
Beinecke Library, Yale University New Haven. Olga Rudge Papers, YCAL 54 Box no/Folder no.
They still plough with oxen in Italy and they say that the sentimental foreigner with his eye for the picturesque and the classic scholar who likes to be reminded of Virgil, etc., are not at the root of it. The bue IS indisputably simpatico. I don’t believe even Marinetti can help liking the sight of a pair of grey oxen scrunching along under olive-trees, or lugging a plough up an almost vertical hillside. There are plenty of fields in Italy where a tractor would be little use and larger farm machinery no economy.
To Olga Rudge, Anno XIV 4 February 1936
YCAL 54, 16/431
by now she shd/ havva canto. and if he had a staff of assistants, he might be doin another.
To James Laughlin, 17 September 1936
L/JL 65; Var 316; Malm 279
DEAR J A S
my mind is on concrete things. Have shipped the three Sienese Cantos, and have a fourth pretty well set. but a few hunks of Orient and Adonis cult already drafted must intervene. The noo triad readZ all right….
To Olga Rudge, 30 October 1936. Anno XIV, Rapallo
YCAL 54, 17/447
He has typed out some sort of a draft fer the rest of 42/51. That is he has typed new all except the four he did in Venez [cantos 42-44, 50] and the one printed in Nude Emocracy .
only he haint got the forza to read it thru YET; but if/when he gits it; he may send on a carbong. an thazatt.
He izza sumin that with 42/44 and 46 and 50; the rest fit in and FLOW. only he don’t KNOW it yet.
waal he thinks hiz attempt at elucidatin the 42/51 iz about all than can be xxpected of him fer the momeng.
printed in Nude Emocracy – Pound published canto 46 in the American Social Credit journal New Democracy on March 1936.
Pound did send Olga all the carbons of the Fifth Decad, apart from canto 50, which he said she had already. They are preserved at the Beinecke Library in the same folder as the letter.
To Carlo Izzo, 8 January 1938
SL 303-4; Lettere 1907-1958 128-30.
‘Eleusis’ is very elliptical. It means that in place of the sacramental ---- [fuck] in the Mysteries, you ’ave the 4 and six-penny ’ore. As you see, the moral bearing is very high, and the degradation of the sacrament (which is the coition and not the going to a fatbuttocked priest or registry office) has been completely debased largely by Xtianity, or misunderstanding of that Ersatz religion.
To Henry Swabey, 31 October 1938
Dear H.S.: —/ —/ Kung and Mencius do not satisfy all the real belief of Europe. But all valid Christian ethics is in accord with them. In fact, only Kung can guide a man, so far as I know, through the jungle of propaganda and fads that has overgrowns Xtn theology. The mysteries are not revealed, and no guide book to them has been or will be written.
To Douglas Fox, n.d., ca. 1939-1941
D — Fx,
Adonis. Venus’ boy friend. gardens of Adonis – the shoots (grass, etc) prematurely forced. & putt seeds on wet flannel. & they sprout before due time. & are part of easter decoration in Rapallo churches –
same process used in some Egyptian tombs – corpse found (I have read not seen). vide my Nicoptis [sic] poem – acr Çaar. surrounded by grass shoots that took mould of body.
Note. Pound’s poem “The Tomb at Akr Çaar” was published in Ripostes, London: Stephen Swift, 1912. 14-6. pdf.
XLVII – BIBLIOGRAPHY
ARTICLES IN JOURNALS AND COLLECTIONS
- Bacigalupo, Massimo. “Repeating the Past: Ezra Pound’s Canto 47.” Modernism and the Mediterranean: Literature and Politics, 1900-1937. Ed. Luisa Villa. Rome: Aracne, 2014. 189-200.
- Bacigalupo, Massimo. “Canto 47.” Readings in the Cantos. Ed. Richard Parker. Vol.2. Clemson: Clemson UP, 2022. 35-44.
- Bacigalupo, Massimo. “Ezra Pound’s Tigullio.” Paideuma: Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics 14.2/3 (Fall & Winter 1985): 179-209.
- Duvernay Christina. “‘And Halo Projects from Incision’”: Ezra Pound’s Deification Of Henri Gaudier Brzeska.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship, 22.1/2 (Spring & Fall 1993): 115-127.
- Feder, Lilian. “The Voice from Hades in the Poetry of Ezra Pound.” Michigan Quarterly Review 10 (Spring 1971): 167-86. Free online.
- Holdridge, Jefferson. “Sea Roses, Luminous Details and Signifying Riffs: Modernism and the Aesthetics of Otherness.” Irish Journal of American Studies 9 (2000): 220-244 [in part, comparing Canto 47 with Countee Cullen’s poem “Heritage”]. First page. References.
- Martz, Louis L. “Pound: The Prophetic Voice.” The Yale Review 75.3 (Spring 1986): 373-384 [in part, on Canto 16, Canto 47, and “Salutation”].
- Myers, Peter. “The Metre of Canto XLVII.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 11.1 (1982): 91-2.
- Nicholls, Peter. “Ezra Pound and the Rhetoric of Address.” Affirmations: of the Modern. Special Issue on Rhetoric and Modernism. 3.1 (Autumn 2015): 32-48. Free online.
- Rosenthal, M. L. “Pound at His Best: Canto 47 as a Model of Poetic Thought.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 6.3 (1977): 309-21.
- Rudolph, Donna C. “Formulas for Paradise in Six Cantos of Ezra Pound.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 20.1-2 (1991): 129-40. Print.
- Sicari, Stephen. “Reading Pound’s Politics: Ulysses As Fascist Hero.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 17.2/3 (Fall & Winter 1988): 145-168.
- Smith, P. H. and A. E. Durant. “Pound’s Metonymy: Revisiting canto 47.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 8.2 (1979): 327-33.
- Bacigalupo, Massimo. The Forméd Trace. The Later Poetry of Ezra Pound. New York: Columbia UP, 1980. 70-4.
- Cookson, William. “‘Yet must thou sail after knowledge’ – Dione – ‘the gift of healing.’ – ‘the power over wild beasts.’” A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2009. 66-8.
- De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: XLVII.” Ezra Pound. I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1535.
- Dekker, George. Sailing after Knowledge: the Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Routledge, 1963. 36-46.
- Emery, Clark. Ideas Into Action. A Study of Pound's Cantos. Coral Gables: U. of Miami Press, 1958. 38-9. Hathi Trust.
- Fang, Achilles. “Materials for the Study of Pound’s Cantos.” 4 vols. Diss. Harvard U, 1958. Vol I: 75-6.
- Flory, Wendy. Ezra Pound and The Cantos. A Record of Struggle. New Haven: Yale UP, 1980. 142-5.
- Froula, Christine. “Canto XLVII.” A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems. New York: New Directions, 1983. 179-83.
- Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto XLVII.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. 1262-3.
- Kearns, George. Pound. The Cantos. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989. 42.
- Liebregts, Peter. “Canto XLVII.” Ezra Pound and Neoplatonism. Madison: Fairleigh Dickinson UP, 2004. 232-236.
- Malm, Mike. “Canto 47.” In Editing Economic History: Ezra Pound’s The Fifth Decad of Cantos. New York: Peter Lang, 2005. 81-3.
- Marsh, Alec. Money and Modernity. Pound, Williams and the Spirit of Jefferson. Tuscaloosa: The U of Alabama P, 1998.
- 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. 220-3.
- Pearlman, Daniel D. The Barb of Time: On the Unity of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969. 172-92.
- Pound, Ezra. Posthumous Cantos. Ed. Massimo Bacigalupo. Manchester: Carcanet, 2015. 37-41.
- Sicari, Stephen. Pound’s Epic Ambition: Dante and the Modern World. New York: SUNY Press, 1991. 57-66.
- Sieburth, Richard. Instigations: Ezra Pound and Remy de Gourmont. Cambridge Mass.: Harvard UP, 1978. 142-4.
- Sieburth, Richard. “Notes: Canto XLVII.” Ezra Pound New Selected Poems and Translations. Ed. Richard Sieburth. New York: New Directions, 2010. 323.
- Stock, Noel. Reading the Cantos. A Study of Meaning in Ezra Pound. New York: Pantheon Books, 1966. 56-8.
- Surette, L. A Light from Eleusis. A Study of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. 64-5.
- Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto XLVII.” In Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound.” Berkeley: U of California P., 1980. I: 184-6.
- Tryphonopoulos, Demetres. “The Katabasis after Gnosis in Canto 47.” The Celestial Tradition. A Study of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos. Waterloo ON: Wilfrid Laurier P, 1992. 142-51.
- Boynton, Owen. “131. (Ezra Pound)” [on Canto 47]. Critical Provisions, October 30, 2016. Free online.
- Corey, Joshua. [untitled]. Cahiers de Corey, June 11, 2004. In part, on a song for Adonis in Canto 47. Free online.
- Guidi, Paolo. “Canto XLVI.” Etching. 28 January 2014. Go to site.
- Pound, Ezra. Canto XLVII. Bilingual text in English and Hungarian. Babelmatrix.org.
- Sawyer, Richard. “Coition the Sacrament: the Odyssean Mysteries in Canto 47.” The Cantos Project, 14 May 2020. Read article.
- Sellar, Gordon. Blogging Pound’s The Cantos: Cantos XLVI-XLVII. Free online.