jefferson engraving


Jefferson governed our forefathers for twenty-four years, and you might almost say he governed for forty-eight, There was the slight cross current of Quincy Adams, but there was the intensively Jeffersonian drive of Van Buren. 

When I say twenty-four years I count Jefferson’s eight years as President and the sixteen wherein he governed more or less through deputies, Madison and Monroe.

“The best government is that which governs least.” Shallow interpretation puts all the emphasis on the adverb “least” and slides gaily over the verb “to govern.”

Apart from conversation and persiflage how did Jefferson govern? What did he really do? Through what mechanisms did he act?

He governed with a limited suffrage, and by means of conversation with his more intelligent friends. Or rather he guided a limited electorate by what he wrote and said more or less privately. 

He canalized American thought by means of his verbal manifestations.

Ezra Pound. Jefferson and/or Mussolini. London: Nott, 1935. 14-15.



CANTO XXXI [Jefferson, the many-sided statesman]

CANTO XXXIII [Adams and Jefferson as political reformers and innovators]

CANTO L [failure of monarchy, revolution and Napoleon: the view from Italy.]








canto 32 title page

Ezra Pound and Dorothy Pound. Canto XXXII. In Shakespear’s Pound: Illuminated Cantos

Nacogdoches, TX: LaNana Creek Press, [Brookfield: Ashgate Publishing], 1999.

Photo reproduction courtesy of Archie Henderson.








Pound wrote canto XXXII in January-February 1931 and sent Olga Rudge copies of both XXXI and XXXII on 7 March 1931. By 22 March, canto XXXIII was ready as well. As Pound had received an offer from Richard Johns for publication of a canto in Pagany on 5 March, he sent XXXI-XXXX off to Johns on 27 March 1931.



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




Ten Eyck, David. Pound’s Adams Cantos. London: Bloomsbury 2014.


Pound/Zukofsky: Selected Letters of Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky. Ed. Barry Ahearn. New York: New Directions, 1987.


Beinecke Library, Ezra Pound Papers YCAL 43; Olga Rudge Papers. YCAL 54. Series I. Box no/ Folder no



To Louis Zukofsky, 18 November, 1930, Rapallo

L/LZ 74



The Reznikoff I was in act of placing or trying to place elsewhere. However I will recall it. Am trying to write Cantos 31 to 35 and am not anxious to disguise myself as my grandson. 


To Olga Rudge, 22 December 1930 

YCAL 54, 10/240; AC 21

Old Adams vurry fine. Takin the paint off the lot of ‘em; T. Jeff and Lafayette included.

and redder than anything

before 1917.


To Olga Rudge, 24 December 1930

YCAL 54, 10/241; AC 18

About to end of his volume of OLD Adams. but eight more in London to be sent out. […]

The fruits of the Adams will be gathered in time. He not going to anticipate them.


To Olga Rudge, 31 December 1930

YCAL 54, 10/244

Ziao, cara e BUON ANNO.


Also he’z got his canto done and ought to bouge. [Fr. “bouger,” move. Pound and Olga are arranging to meet in Venice.]

Cant get rest of the “material” ([EP’s note:] material=other vols of Jeff. correspondence etc.etc.) fer next canto for another ten days at least. also he’s done enuff woik fer the momeng.



To Olga Rudge, [22 January 1930]

YCAL 54, 10/248



He is sawin on thru Jeff. has in fact done one of the two noo vols. and thass quello. 


To Olga Rudge, 3 February 1931

YCAL 54, 10/252

He has 4 pagine [It. pages] in more or less shape fer Canto continuing Mr J.


To Olga Rudge, 20 February 1931

YCAL 54, 10/250



He has read a lot of Jeff and thass about all, apart from a few kusses in the Chi Trib which she wont see in Lunnon.


From Richard Johns [Pagany], 5 March 1931

YCAL 43, 39/1645; YCAL 54, 10/256

Is there no chance that a Canto might come my way? I can’t make great promises of great reward, I can promise the life of Pagany until I’m tired to the point of exhaustion, and surprising in this year and city, I find myself still healthy.


From Olga Rudge, [7 March 1931]

YCAL 54, 10/253

Amore – Ciao 2 Cantos!

breeches? is that the rate of wear – ciao she very excited at getting the XXX? she finds she is getting a lot of kick out of the American cantos – she would like to know why – and he says what a question and she says they seem to be piling up & rolling on in a  most alarmingly avalanchical fashion & a lot of damage will be done somewhere – in bocca lupo – & he hits the bull’s eye every time – Ciao amore – may she keep copy? – and suppose a cushion were provided for the seat of learning?

Note. Olga had received cantos 31 and 32, but when writing the letter she did not remember the numbers exactly. “XXX?” means “thirty something.”


To Olga Rudge, [10 March 1931]

YCAL 54, 10/253



Yes/ she keep the canto.


To Olga Rudge, 22 March [1931]

YCAL 54, 10/256; AC 18


He has ordered his sleepink kar. As she has s’much to do, she do somfink more an’ send him back her carbon of Canto 32. “The revolution” said Mr Adams. 

He encs/ the remplacant. and they all better git aht ter woik. as acc Mr Johns’ encd.

Not that 33 is prob. in order. How the HELL can he be sposed to condencentrate ALL Mssrs Marx/Adams/T/J/etc. i[f] he is expected to fix his VOLITION etc/etc.etc/

Yeow, yeow yeow. Wuzz.


To Olga Rudge, 27 March 1931

YCAL 54, 10/256


Canto 32 recd, graZ.


He is now goin’ out to send orf his mss/ to Mr Johns the distgt. edtr.


From Richard Johns [Pagany], 4 May 1931

YCAL 43 39/1645

Today received your three Cantos which much please me. They will open the July number.


Cantos XXXI-XXXIII were published in Pagany II.3 July-September 1931.


To Dorothy Pound, 10 September [1931]

Lilly Library, Pound Mss. III, Box 2

3 cantos in Pagany. with only a few misprints.  & a few lost commas.








jeffersons library at monticello



  1. Fender, Stephen. “Ezra Pound and the Words off the Page; Historical Allusions in Some American Long Poems.” The Yearbook of English Studies8 (1978): 95–108.
  2. White, Eric. “Canto 32.” Readings in the Cantos. Ed. Richard Parker. Clemson: Clemson UP, 2018. 263-72.



  1. Cookson, William. “XXXI-XXXIV. Thomas Jefferson, John Adams – John Quincy Adams.” A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2009. 47-8. 
  2. Coyle, Michael. “The Prose of the Pagany Cantos of 1931.” Ezra Pound, Popular Genres, and the Discourse of Culture. University Park, Pennsylvania: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1995. 99-113.
  3. Davis, Earle. Vision Fugitive: Ezra Pound and Economics. Lawrence KS.: UP of Kansas, 1968. 123-4.
  4. De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: XXXII.” Ezra Pound I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1522. 
  5. Fang, Achilles. “Materials for the Study of Pound’s Cantos.” 4 vols. Diss. Harvard U, 1958. Vol I: 50.
  6. Furia, Philip. Pound's Cantos Declassified.  University Park and London: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1984. 54.
  7. Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto XXXII.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. Eds. Manfred Pfister and Heinz Ickstadt. Zurich: Arche Literatur Verlag, 2013. 1240-1.
  8. Makin, Peter. “Politics and Mobility: Cantos XXXI, XXXII, XXXIII.” Pound’s Cantos. London: Allen & Unwin, 174-78. 
  9. Moody, David. Ezra Pound: Poet.  Vol. II:  The Epic Years 1921-1939. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2014. 162-3.
  10. Pearlman, Daniel. The Barb of Time: On the Unity of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1969. 137-51. 
  11. Surette, Leon. A Light from Eleusis. A Study of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1979. [Section: 135-37.]
  12. Ten Eyck, David. Ezra Pound’s Adams Cantos. London: Bloomsbury, 2012.
  13. Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto XXXII.” A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: California UP, 1993. 124-8. 
  14. Wilhelm, J. J. Ezra Pound The Tragic Years. 1925-1972. University Park: The Pennsylvania State UP, 1994. 98-99.



  1. Guidi, Paolo. “Canto 32.” Etching. 6 November 2012. Free online.
  2. “XXXII.” A Canto a Day. Blog. 8 March 2009. Free online.
  3. Sellar, Gordon. “Blogging Pound's The Cantos: Canto XXXI-XXXIII.”, 6 August 2012. Web. 31 Oct. 2015. Free online.

Cantos in periodicals

A Draft of XXX Cantos

Eleven New Cantos

The Fifth Decad

rsz toscana siena3 tango7174


confucius adams 2