Article Index




  genghis khan



Ghengis 1206

Kublai 1260

Twentieth Dynasty YUEN (Mongol)

Lady Ouang Chi

HONG VOU died 1399

Twenty-first Dynasty MING 1368

 Ezra Pound The Cantos New York: New Directions, 1998. 255


The Mongols take over in canto 56 for an interval of 160 years. The terrible Ghengis Khan came in having heard something of ‘alphabets, morals, mores’, and being surprised to learn that it was more profitable to tax his new subjects than to exterminate them in his usual fashion; but Kublai Khan, who extended Mongol domination over all China ‘was a buggar for taxes’ and his finance minister was ‘stinking with graft’; and though Gin Tsong honoured Kung with the rites ‘his son died of assassins’. Through the main part of this canto the movement is unsettled, scherzo-like, casting rapidly back and forth between occupying Mongol and weak Sung, touching on wars, taxes, and granaries, on bandits, pirates–and a treatise for the cultivation of silk-worms. Under the decadent last of these Mongols there were again ‘At court, eunuchs and grafters / among mongols no man trusted other’, and that dynasty fell in confusion ‘from losing the law of Chung Ni (Confucius)’. This time it was the son of a poor labourer, Hong Vou, who rose up to defeat the failing rulers and restore order in the empire. ‘Once again war is over. Go talk to the savants,’ he said, under the ideograms naming Yao, Chun, [Han], and Chou. 

David Moody, Ezra Pound: Poet II: 280



CANTO XVIII [Kublai Khan’s bark money and the conquest of China]

CANTO LIII [the standard of virtue: the ancient emperors, the Chou dynasty and Confucius]







Pound old





 Ezra Pound reading Canto LVI. 

Harvard Vocarium Readings, recorded in Cambridge Mass. on 17 May 1939. PennSound.











  1. Nolde, John J. “The Sources for Chinese Dynastic Canto LVI. Part One.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 8.2 (Fall 1979): 263-92. 
  2. Nolde, John J. “The Sources for Chinese Dynastic Canto LVI. Part Two.” Paideuma: A Journal Devoted to Ezra Pound Scholarship 8.3 (Winter 1979): 485-511.



  1. Cookson, William. “Ghengis – Kublai – Twentieth Dynasty: Yuen (Mongol) – Overthrow of Mongols – Foundation of Ming Dynasty, 1368.” A Guide to The Cantos of Ezra Pound. London: Anvil, 2009. 85-7.
  2. De Rachewiltz, Mary and Maria Ardizzone. “Commento: LVI.” Ezra Pound. I Cantos. A cura di Mary de Rachewiltz. [Bilingual English-Italian edition]. Milano: Mondadori, 1985. 1546-7. 
  3. Fang, Achilles. “Materials for the Study of Pound’s Cantos.” 4 vols. Diss. Harvard U, 1958. Vol I: 134-44.
  4. Ickstadt, Heinz and Eva Hesse. “Anmerkungen und Kommentar: Canto LVI.” Ezra Pound. Die Cantos. Tr. by Eva Hesse and Manfred Pfister. 1281-83. 
  5. 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. 280.
  6. Nolde, John. “Canto LVI.” In Blossoms from the East. The China Cantos of Ezra Pound. Orono: National Poetry Foundation 1983. 247-302.
  7. Terrell, Carroll F. “Canto LVI.” In Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound.” Berkeley: U of California P., 1980. I: 236-44.



  1. Guidi, Paolo. “Canto LVI.” Diamond Point intaglio, selective hard ground, lift, etch, aquatint, copperplate. Printed on Arches 88 paper., 21 April 2014. Free online.
  2. Pound, Ezra. Reading of Canto LVI. PennSound
  3. Sellar, Gordon. “Canto LVI and LVII” Part 43 of 56 in the series Blogging Ezra Pound’s The Cantos., 22 October 2013. Free online.



A Draft of XXX Cantos

ship4 for c1

Eleven New Cantos

rsz guido cavalcanti