canto 19 detail




Annotations in the List of Works Cited:

Contributor name. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.gloss number. The Cantos Project. Web. Date of access.

Example: Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound, IV: n.13. The Cantos Project. Web. 5 September 2016.

In–text references

(Contributor name, OCCEP IV:

Example: (Bressan, OCCEP IV: n.3). If no name is indicated, the gloss or translation was written by Roxana Preda. In this case, the citation will have this format: (OCCEP IV: n.13).

References to The Cantos

As The Cantos Project is numbering the lines of The Cantos, references to cantos already glossed will be by canto number and line(s), as standard with classical works. Example: III: ll.7–17.

For cantos that are not yet glossed within the project, the references will be by canto number slash page number, as standard in the research on the poem. Example: III/12. The page number refers to the American edition of The Cantos by Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998. 

© Roxana Preda. Companion to Cantos XVIII and XIX [Geryon]. 26 September 2017.




Terrell, Carroll. F. A Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U of California Press, 1980.


Moody, David. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. Oxford: Oxford UP 2007-2015.


Pound, Ezra. Jefferson and/or Mussolini. L’idea statale. Fascism as I have Seen It. London: Stanley Nott, 1935.


Preda, Roxana. The Online Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. The Cantos Project.


Pound, Ezra. Selected Prose 1909-1965. Ed. William Cookson. New York: New Directions, 1973.



  1. sabotage – The word is a link to the previous canto, which ends: “War, one war after another/ Men start ‘em who couldn’t put up a good hen-roost/ Also sabotage” (XVIII 123-25).
  2. he – Pound presents the contrast between the dreamer, adventurer, inventor, active entrepreneur and the inert, corporate forces who bribe him to keep his invention unrealized.
    “The type of man who built railways, cleared the forest, planned irrigation, is different from the type of man who can hold on to the profits of subsequent industry. Whereas this first man was a man of dreams, in a time when dreams paid, a man of adventure, careless–this latter is a close person, acquisitive, rapacious, tenacious. The first man had personality, and was, ‘god damn you’ himself […]. The present type is primarily a mask, his ideal is the nickel-plated cash-register, and toward the virtues thereof he doth continually strive and tend.” (“Patria mia” SP 108)
  3. nice place on the Hudson – the picturesque Hudson river valley in upstate New York is home to a string of mansions belonging to the richest American families along the centuries. Best known are those belonging to the magnates of the Gilded Age, such as John Rockefeller, Jay Gould, and Cornelius Vanderbilt. To have a “nice place on the Hudson” meant that the inventor Pound is quoting, got a very high bribe not to develop his invention. See Untapped cities.

  4. Marx – Karl Marx (1818-1883), German philosopher, economist and political theorist. His analysis of the workings of capitalism in such writings as The Communist Manifesto (1848), A Contribution to the Critique of Political Economy and The Capital  (vol. I: 1867) is the foundation of the Socialist and Communist movements of the 19thand 20thcenturies. While Marx’s writings and political activities did not cause sufficient stir while he was still alive, the Russian Revolution of October 1918 bore witness to the resonance his works had acquired in the years leading up to WWI.
  5. 320px Avenue des Champs Élysées July 24 2009 N1

    Champz Elyza – Champs Elysées, [the Elysian Fields] a luxurious, fashionable avenue in Paris running from Place Charles de Gaulle (formerly Place de l’Étoile) to Place de la Concorde. It was laid out by the landscape architect André Le Nôtre for Louis XIV in 1667.

  6. Das Kapital – G. “The Capital.” The most important book by the German philosopher Karl Marx. He published the first volume of Das Kapital: Kritik der politischen Ökonomie [“Capital: Critique of Political Economy”] in 1867. Further two volumes were published by Friedrich Engels in 1883 and 1884, after Marx’s death. Pound read the first volume himself very carefully, as witnessed by the prodigious marginalia in the Italian copy he owned. His dialogue with the unnamed American entrepreneur illuminates Pound’s belief, derived from C. H. Douglas’s Social Credit, that it is the rent on money and hence the banking influence on production that determine the workings of capitalism and not the profit derived from labour, which is Marx’s position.
  7. Qui se faisait si beau – Fr. “who was so elegant.” Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk 1925
  8. old kindly professor – Thomas Masaryk (1850-1937) was professor of philosophy at the University of Prague. He entered his political career in 1889 by turning a journal he was editing into a political review. In 1900, he founded his own party and became a figure of left-oriented Slav opposition in the Austrian Parliament and attacked Austria’s alliance with Germany. After the outbreak of WWI, he made his way to London and the US to establish contact with Allied leaders and militate for an independent Czechoslovak state. His ideas found resonance in the US, where President Wilson included the creation of the new state in his “Fourteen Points” for the peace settlement of WWI. Masaryk became the President of Czechoslovakia in November 1918 – he was a liberator and father of the nation.

    Pound referenced him along with Griffith when he wrote to his father: “You hear various people letting cats out of bags at maximum speed. Armaments, finance, etc. A ‘great editor’ at least edt. of the woilds best known news sheet, a president of a new nation, or one then in the making.”
    From the way Pound presents the scene, both he and Masaryk were waiting to talk to Griffith at 22 Hans Place in London where the leader of Sinn Féin had his lodgings during the negotiations with the British government. See also n.9.
  9. Arthur Griffith

    stubby little man – Arthur Griffith (1871-1922), founder and leader of Sinn Féin, the Irish republican party. The date of Pound’s meeting with Griffith was established by James Wilhelm as 11 October 1921, while Griffith was in London to negotiate the terms of the Anglo-Irish treaty which established Ireland as free state (Wilhelm 302-3; EPP I: 407). At this crucial time before the birth of a new nation, Pound tried to impress upon Griffith the importance of Social Credit – Griffith’s answer remained for ever impressed in Pound’s memory and was recalled in the Pisan cantos in LXXVIII/501.
    In Jefferson and/or Mussolini, (1935), Pound concluded:
    “As I learned from my meeting with Griffiths: A leader who is not supported by legal machinery is more bound by the general will of his party than an elected official who has legal forms to fall back on” (J/M 110).

  10. The Tatler – British magazine founded in 1901 and devoted to gossip and fashion. Its readership was the upper middle class. (19: n.11).
  11. Clio – the muse of history.
  12. Prishnip – pseudonym Pound gave to the hunchback messenger in Steed’s story about how Czech soldiers were to be aided to cross over from the Austrian army to the Russian during WWI. Through Thirty Years.
  13. dh professor – Thomas Masaryk. Through Thirty Years.
  14. Vlettmann – pseudonym for Bernard Pares, Steed’s acquaintance who corroborated Steed’s story about the Czechs out of his own experience and observation. See Through Thirty Years.
  15. Hé Sloveny – Serb. “Up the Slavs!” – A song that was well-known and loved across Slav countries. The song was used as a signal that Czech soldiers, who were supposed to fight for the Austrian army, wanted to cross over to the Russians during WWI. It was Steed’s idea to use it as a signal and used his connections to the Russian ambassador Beckendorff to let the Russian troops on the eastern front know about this signal and not shoot. See Through Thirty YearsThe Song.
  16. Boche – French pejorative term for German.
  17. naphtha – flammable liquid hydrocarbon mixture. Old word for “petroleum.” Naphtha is a component in the mixture of hydrocarbons used as fuel for Diesel engines, which in their turn were used to propel submarines at the surface. Naphtha is also used as a solvent for the synthesis of hemp oil, which has health benefits in a variety of diseases from diabetes to cancer. Naphtha and hemp.
  18. Rotterdam – Dutch port. During WWI, The Netherlands was a neutral country, though the sympathies of the king and prime minister ran with Germany. The use of naphtha as a solvent for hemp oil could be used as a front for the real provision of fuel for German submarines during WWI.
  19. das thust du nicht, Albert? – G. “don’t do this, Albert!” Albert is probably Albert Mensdorff, the Austrian ambassador to Great Britain before WWI; the speaker, as emerges from Pound’s drafts, is his uncle.         
    The question mark is a printer’s error. The drafts to the canto show a period, not a question mark. See draft. See also n. 25.
  20. Nevsky – The Nevsky Avenue is the most important street in St. Petersburg. It was laid out by Peter the Great as the starting point of roads towards Moscow and Novgorod.
  21. no use telling ’em – comment by Lincoln Steffens which Pound remembered for a lifetime, quoting it again in 1945 at the end of the Pisan Cantos (LXXXIV/560).
  22. rsz carranza portrait 03

    from a train – allusion to a story that Steffens includes in his Autobiography. Steffens was interested in studying revolutions – he went to Mexico first, in 1914-1917, and found that Venustiano Carranza had placed his government on a train, attempting to elaborate new laws for Mexico while being seen and heard by the people in various parts of the country (Autobiography 727-30).
    Only after Steffens had drawn his provisional conclusions from observing the situation in Mexico, did he go to Russia, in March 1917. See Steffens’s presence in canto XVI: n. 49-56.

  23. lincoln steffensSteff – Lincoln Steffens (1866-1936), American journalist whom Pound admired. Pound met Steffens in 1922 through Ernest Hemingway and reported about his interaction with him in the letters to his parents. The stories and comments that Pound includes in this canto are made in conversation, but are also to be found in Steffens’s Autobiography, published in 1931.
  24. Tommy Baymont – pseudonym for the junior partner at J.P. Morgan’s bank who argued to Steffens that not even his boss had all the influence that Steffens ascribed to financiers and especially to Morgan as the “ultimate American sovereign.” Steffens’s story elaborates his point of view about economic and political power, which is in remarkable agreement with Pound’s own.
    “The junior partner said that J.P. had no sense of ‘absolute power’ and that as a matter of fact his power was not absolute; it was very limited, and he told me an incident to prove it. J.P. had discovered that he could not make the New York, New Haven and Hartford Railroad, which he controlled, buy its coal from a coal company he controlled, without the consent of ‘Diamond Jim’ Brady. He was so enraged that he was going to fight Brady; ‘if he did nothing else the rest of his life, he would lick that man.’ But he didn’t; he accepted him, and the reason was that Brady represented a company in which the officers of the New Haven and other railroads held shares; the company had the exclusive privilege of selling supplies to those railroads. It was a racket, of course, but the ramifications of its business, influence, and power were so complex that even Morgan dared not touch it” (Autobiography 590).
  25. MensdorffbyLaszloMr. Mensdorf – Albert Viktor Julius Joseph Michael Count von Mensdorff-Pouilly-Dietrichstein (1861–1945), Austro-Hungarian diplomat serving as ambassador to King James Court, 1904-1914. Although Mensdorff was well-liked, he could not ensure that Britain stays out of the conflict between Austria and Serbia in WWI. In a conversation he had with Henry Wickham Steed, Mensdorff tried to secure assurances of British neutrality in the case of an Austrian war with Serbia. Steed was known for his pro-Austrian position, but told Mensdorff directly that he would not use the Times to help Austria “commit suicide.” Steed laid out to Mensdorff the costs of the “small” war with Serbia and the direct consequences that declaring war will have for the empire. Mensdorff’s hopes were ill-founded as Britain had an alliance with Russia, “the Entente,” brokered by the Russian ambassador Benckendorff in 1907. See n. 26. See also Through Thirty Years 1892-1922. I: 407.
  26. Alexander Konstantinovich Benckendorff

    old Ptiersdorff – Count Alexander Konstantinovich Benckendorff (1849-1917), Russian diplomat. He was tsarist ambassador at the Court of St. James and instrumental in forging the alliance between Britain and Russia under the name of “Entente” in 1907. He is primarily responsible for Britain’s participation in WWI under the aegis of the Triple Entente, an alliance with Russia and France.

  27. and the rest of it – “das thust du nicht, Albert” (don’t do this Albert!) The narrator’s father (“my ole man”) is apostrophizing Albert Mensdorff, his nephew: the idea of politics as a family scene between people who know each other intimately is “gone like the cake shops in the Nevsky” as Pound says in lines 65-67.
  28. ten years – the story about women as cheap commodities for sale in Romania and Kashmir was told by Pound’s acquaintance Captain Baker, who also appears in Canto XVI. Baker had spent ten years of his life in the Indian army. See Captain Baker (Corcoran) in OCCEP XVI: n. 36.
    “Not one man in a thousand can be aroused to an interest in economics until he definitely suffers from the effects of an evil system. I know no subject in which it is harder to arouse any interest whatsoever. The cost of things which really interest human beings has nothing whatever to do with their quality. A pleasant woman costs no more than an unpleasant one, in fact, she probably costs infinitely less” (SP 239).
  29. Yash – Ro. Iasi, city in north-east Romania, former capital of Moldavia. “Yash” is the English spelling, “Jassy,” the German.
  30. Kashmir – state in North India.


Cantos in periodicals

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A Draft of XXX Cantos

A Draft of XVI Cantos


Eleven New Cantos

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The Fifth Decad

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