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Pound indicated in a letter to his mother in October 1924 that he had been studying some Greek, which points to the presence of the Greek poet Stesichorus in the canto. In March 1925, Pound wrote to his father that he had completed seven cantos (17-23). The drafts show that Pound remodelled the end of the canto, probably from March to October 1925.

Pound published a part of canto XXIII in his own magazine Exile (no.3 Spring 1928). Assuming that the beginning of the poem is too obscure, he started his excerpt from line 12: “precisely: the selv’ oscura.”



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




Moody, David. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007-2015. Volume II: The Epic Years 1921-1939. 2014.


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



To IWP, 30 October 1924, Rapallo

L/HP 546

Dear Mother


Have been through the last part of Dante’s hell; and acquired a little more greek during the past fortnight; real comforts of idleness, after the hurley-burley or hurloo-boorloo of Paris.



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, 23 October 1925. Rapallo

L/HP 578

Dear Dad:


Have now four more canti on the way, (beyond the three that are supposed to be in press for T. Quart.)

Note: The cantos in press for This Quarter were numbers XVII-XIX.


To IWP, 24 October 1925, Rapallo

L/HP 579

Dear Mother:

Have got new raccogliatore for notes, as canti XXII to XXIII are about finished and need holder to themselves. Am going on to XXIV etc.

Proofs of the T. Quarter recd.


To Natalie Barney, 19 November 1925, Hotel Mignon Rapallo

Richard Sieburth, ed. “Letters to Natalie Barney.” Paideuma 5.2-3 (Fall Winter 1976): 288.

Dear Natalie


I am plugging along about Canto XXIII; XVII-XIX are about to appear in a quarterly; Bird hopes to start printing something next winter, but hardly another vol. of Cantos.

Pussn’ly I think my opera nearly as good as the Cantos, though NOT fer anyone’s pyanny. Also my opinion on litterchure is more valuable than my opinion on moosik.



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]


To Homer Pound, 27 December 1927, Rapallo

L/HP 645

Dear Dad:


Have had 3 canti to correct in proofs.

Note: the 3 canti in proofs would have been ‘Part of Canto XXVII’ and ‘Canto XXII’ for The Dial and ‘Part of Canto XXIII for Exile no.3 (Moody 646).


The Fifth Decad

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Cantos LII - LXXI

confucius adams 2