Canto XIII was finished in June 1923 and first published in the transatlantic review for January 1924 under the title “One Canto” (P&P IV: 305-306). There is a small difference between the text of the periodical publication and the final version: in the former, the third line was a repetition of the seventh: it was replaced by the current “And into the cedar grove” in A Draft of XVI Cantos.

The textual adventures were not over, however. In A Draft of XVI Cantos (1925), the lines “A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,/“I mean for things they didn’t know,/ “But that time seems to be passing” at the bottom of page 49 were repeated at the top of the next page, probably because the printer had forgotten that he had already set them. Pound did not notice at the time, telling his publisher William Bird on 25 January 1925 that there was “up to date no misprint of any importance.” See Correspondence.

By 1930, in the Hours Press edition of A Draft of XXX Cantos, the repeat had been reduced to two lines (without the middle line: “I mean for the things they didn't know”), in a sort of echo-effect, which suggests that between 1925 and 1930, Pound had seen the repeat and was considering keeping it. Hugh Kenner spotted the passage in the 1930 edition of A Draft of XXX Cantos. See his continuation of the story and extended comment at the bottom of the Calendar.



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




Pearlman, Daniel. The Barb of Time. On the Unity of Ezra Pound's CANTOS. New York: Oxford UP, 1969.


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


Pound, Ezra. Ezra Pound and Dorothy Shakespear. Their Letters: 1909-1914. Eds. Omar Pound and A Walton Litz. London: Faber & Faber, 1984.


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


Pound, Ezra. The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound to John Quinn 1915-1924. Ed. Timothy Materer. Durham NC: Duke UP, 1991.


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



To Dorothy Shakespear, [2 October 1913], London, 10 Church Walk

L/DS 264


I would have writ before but I went to Ryde to visit [Allen] Upward. Il pense. It is a rare phenomenon. He has just finished “The Divine Mystery”, digested golden bough with a lot more of his own intelligence stuck into it.


Dined on monday with Sarojini Niadu [sic] and Mrs. Fenollosa, relict of the writer on chinese art, selector of a lot of Freer’s stuff, etc. I seem to be getting orient from all quarters. [...] I’m stocked up with K’ung fu Tsze, and Men Tsze, etc. I suppose they’ll keep me calm for a week or so.


To Dorothy Shakespear, 14 November, 1913, Sussex, Stone Cottage, Coleman’s Hatch

L/DS 274

Dear Heliad,

It rains. I have not yet got lost in the wild, tho’ the eagle [Yeats] tried to go the wrong way once, with amazing persistance. I read Kung-fu-tsu & a barbarous Indian thing [Mahabharata] and I read ghosts to the eagle.


To Henry Hope Shakespear, 16 February, 1914 London: 10 Church Walk

L/DS 307

Dear Mr. Shakespear

Dorothy says that you have suggested our being married in a church, unless you feel very strongly on this point I should much rather go through the simple and dignified service at the Registry.


I should no more give up my faith in Christ than I should give up my faith in Helios or my respect for the teahings of Confucius, but I think this superficial conformity, an act which would amount, practically, to an outrageous lie at what should be one of [the] most serious moments of a man’s life, interferes.



To John Quinn, 5 July 1922

L/JQ 213

Mon Cher J.Q.


Still, having got Morand translations off my hands […] And having got five cantos blocked out, I am about ready for the vacation I did not take in Italy. Am feeling damn fit.


To Felix E. Schelling, 8 July 1922

SL 180, L 247

Dear Dr. Schelling:


Perhaps as the poem goes on I shall be able to make various things clearer. Having the crust to attempt a poem in 100 or 120 cantos long after all mankind has been commanded never again to attempt a poem of any length, I have to stagger as I can

The first 11 cantos are preparation of the palette. I have to get down all the colours or elements I want for the poem. Some perhaps too engmatically and abbreviatedly. I hope, heaven help me, to bring them into some sort of design and architecture later.

Note: “The first 11 cantos” would include the present canto XIII, since at the time he wrote the letter, Pound was not envisaging writing four Malatesta cantos but just one.


To Homer Pound, 16 July 1922, 70 bis, rue notre Dame des Champs Paris

L/HP 500

Dear dad,


Have now a rough draft of 9, 10, 11, 12, 13. IX may swell out into two.

Note: At the time, Pound had written just one Malatesta Canto (number 9) and was considering expanding it to two cantos. The remark in his letter shows that he had drafted the Kung canto (no. 11 which became 13) and the two hell cantos (12, 13 which became 14 and 15).



To IWP, 6 June 1923, 70 bis [Paris]

L/HP 513

Dear Mother


Am working on Kung canto.


To Homer Pound, 21 June 1923, 70 bis, N.D. de C. [Paris]

L/HP 514

Dear Dad:

    Am doing a canto on Kung: don’t know about english translations of him. I have Pauthier’s french translation of the Four Books; and a latin translation of the Odes (an anthology of earlier poetry that K. is said to have collected[)]. The Bowmen of Shu, is supposed to be somewhere in that Anthology.

    His idea of beginning in the middle i.e. on oneself is excellent. The exact reverse of Christianchurchism which teaches: thou shalt attend to thy neighbor’s business before thou attendest to thine own.


To John Quinn, 11 August 1923

BT 303

Cantos are in Criterion for July. More being prepared for Three Mts, edition de luxe.



From Nancy Cunard, Tues [17 June 1930, date on postage stamp]

Beinecke, YCAL 43 Box 11/494

Ezra Darlin.

Getting at Bernouard today (if he is in) will make him do a full set of Proofs on the real paper with greek in – he wrote he had not the greek and was ordering the composition of it from the foundery – will have the capitals straightened on pages and the 3 chinese put at Kung. I hope you wrote or will write to Bernouard at once and explicitly on typewriter – there are 3 of us at this production which is a little more complicated than 2 – I mean you have to pass through me – but we shall get it in the end. More when I’ve seen Bernouard.


From Nancy Cunard, Friday [27 June 1930, date on postage stamp]

Beinecke, Box 11/494

Ezra Darlint

straddle-wise, your letters re Cantos all gone through with B [Bernouard, the printer] and proofs en main (I mean, what concerns him, not other observations!) glad the greek is alright. Once more I impressed urgency of Chinese and K’s to their urgent places; he understood the pages à soigner.



From Hugh Kenner’s “Introduction” to Barbara Eastman. Ezra Pound's Cantos: The Story of the Text 1948-1975. Orono: NPF, 1979. xiii-xiv.

In general, if a printed text is somehow available it makes a good copytext for a subsequent printer, who however is apt to reproduce its errors with painful fidelity. In 1930 the Hours Press, Paris, produced just 212 copies of A Draft of XXX Cantos. Among its features was a curious repeat in Canto XIII:

And even I can remember
A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
I mean for things they didn’t know,
But that time seems to be passing.”
A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
But that time seems to be passing.”

The repeated terminal quotation mark tells us that this is the printer’s doing; he somehow set two lines twice. In 1933 Farrar and Rinehart (N.Y.) issued A Draft of XXX Cantos with these lines given exactly as above; evidently their printer’s copytext was a copy of the Hours Press book. In the same year Faber & Faber issued A Draft of XXX Cantos without the repeat; their copytext was either an Hours Press very carefully corrected (since other Hours Press errors were also excised) or–more likely–a fresh typescript. Faber’s jacket spoke of “Mr. Pound’s latest corrections.” Eventually New Directions acquired Farrar & Rinehart’s plates and the version with the repeat stood until their 1971 printing, when on someone’s instructions it was deleted, thus bringing the text into conformity with Faber’s.

One would think the repeat should therefore be excised forever? Yet anomalies persist. The most carefully supervised of all editions of Cantos I-XXX, the Lerici of 1961 with Italian translation en face by Mary de Rachewiltz and numerous corrections authorized by her father the author, has on page 132 an English text à la Faber, with no repeat, but on the facing page,

“E io ricordo che una volta
“Gli storiografi lasciavan lacune, intendo
“Per quel che ignoravano, ma
“Quel tempo pare passi.
“Gli storiografi lasciavan lacune...
“Nel passato.”

We deduce from this that whereas the Italian translation was based on the New Directions text, the English of the Lerici edition followed the Faber! The Lerici printer, that means, was handed a Faber book for a copytext, Mary de Rachewiltz's heavily annotated New Directions being too precious to part with. Repeat or no repeat? The question still seems open. But if the author’s word counts for something, here is the author’s word (1957). I planned to include canto XIII in an anthology called The Art of Poetry, [xiv] and wrote Pound to ask if he wanted the repeat deleted. He replied: “Repeat in XIII sanctioned by time and the author, or rather first by the author, who never objects to the typesetter making improvements.”

If that is so, the current standard text, in being repeatless, is wrong. But Pound seems never to have requested an emendation of Faber, and the repeat vanished from the New Directions text in his lifetime without his protest. He thought different things on different days? Or more likely he scanned one version without memory of the other.

Deliberated final intention? There would seem to be no such thing.

And supposing we retain the repeat in an ideal edition, should we delete the first closing quotation mark which signals its origin in a printer’s error? I did so in my anthology, and was probably right not to strew that additional thorn before the tender feet of anthology readers. In a proper edition of the Cantos I’m not sure that I would. Pound never covered his tracks: he let “Rihaku” stand in Cathay for a poet whose Chinese name he knew was “Li Po,” in testimony to the chain of transmission, Mori and Ariga via Fenollosa. He left Chinese names in the orthography of his source of the moment, Pauthier, Legge, De Mailla, Couvreur, permitting the Cantos to reflect not some ideal transliteration but changing western interactions with China and the poet’s successive encounters with these. (And recently, the tidying-up of the text of the big book has exhibited a tendency to regularize these names, which I think is simply wrong.) So one may judge that it is in character for him to have left a sign of the occasion when a typesetter inadvertently made an improvement, and the author’s inaction sanctioned it.



Cantos in periodicals

Three Cantos (Ur-Cantos)

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A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of the Cantos 17-27


Eleven New Cantos

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The Fifth Decad

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Cantos LII - LXXI

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