The Pisan Cantos

Front Cover
New Directions Publishing, 1948 - Poetry - 159 pages
7 Reviews
Ezra Pound's The Pisan Cantos was written in 1945, while the poet was being held in an American military detention center near Pisa, Italy, as a result of his pro-Fascist wartime broadcasts to America on Radio Rome. Imprisoned for some weeks in a wire cage open to the elements, Pound suffered a nervous collapse from the physical and emotional strain. Out of the agony of his own inferno came the eleven cantos that became the sixth book of his modernist epic, The Cantos, themselves conceived as a Divine Comedy for our time. The Pisan Cantos were published in 1948 by New Directions and in the following year were awarded the Bollingen Prize for poetry by the Library of Congress. The honor came amid violent controversy, for the dark cloud of treason still hung over Pound, incarcerated in St. Elizabeths Hospital for the Criminally Insane. Yet there is no doubt that The Pisan Cantos displays some of his finest and most affecting writing, marking an elegaic turn to the personal while synthesizing the philosophical and economic political themes of his previous cantos. They are now being published for the first time as a separate paperback, in a fully annotated edition prepared by Richard Sieburth, who also contributes a thoroughgoing introduction, making Pound's master-work fully accessible to students and general readers.
  

What people are saying - Write a review

User ratings

5 stars
2
4 stars
0
3 stars
3
2 stars
2
1 star
0

Review: The Pisan Cantos

User Review  - Michael Ledezma - Goodreads

It helps to know French, Italian, and Chinese characters. Just go with it, for it will take you places. Sardonic and dryly pessimistic at times, with crescendos and overflowing lyricism at others. Read full review

Review: The Pisan Cantos

User Review  - Chris Schaeffer - Goodreads

Would like to give two extra stars, if possible, for reading Sam Schild's used copy, which is filled with good notes and has many of the ideograms filled out to resemble funny faces in hats. Read full review

Selected pages

Contents

Introduction
vii
The Pisan Cantos
xliii
Notes
117
Copyright

Common terms and phrases

References to this book

All Book Search results »

About the author (1948)

With T. S. Eliot, Ezra Pound was one of the two main influences on British and U.S. poetry between the two world wars. The collection of his Letters, 1907--1941 revealed the great erudition of this most controversial expatriate poet. Born in Idaho in 1885, Pound graduated from the University of Pennsylvania and went abroad to live in 1908. His first book, A Lume Spento, a small collection of poems, was published in Venice in 1908. With the publication of Personae in London in 1909, he became the leader of the imagists abroad. Pound's writings have been subject to many foreign influences. First he imitated the troubadours; then he came under the influence of the Chinese and Japanese poets. The Cantos (1925--60), his major work, to which he added for many years, is a mixture of modern colloquial language and classical quotation. The Pisan Cantos (1948), written during his imprisonment in Italy, is more autobiographical. Pound's prose, as well as his poetry, has been extremely influential. The Spirit of Romance (1910) is a revision of his studies of little-known romance writers. ABC of Reading (1934) is an exposition of his critical method. His critical writings include Literary Essays of Ezra Pound (1954), Instigations (1920), and Guide to Kulchur (1938). Pound was a linguist, whom Eliot called "the inventor of Chinese poetry for our time." His greatest translating achievements from Japanese, Chinese, Anglo-Saxon, Italian, Provencal, and French are collected in The Translations of Ezra Pound (1933). Among his other writings are Make It New: Essays; Jefferson and/or Mussolini, a discussion of American democracy and capitalism and fascism; and The Classic Noh Theatre of Japan, with Ernest Fenollosa. Living in Italy, Pound felt that some of the practices of Mussolini were in accord with the doctrines of social credit, in which he had become interested in the 1920s and 1930s. He espoused some of the general applications of fascism and also was a strong advocate of anti-Semitism. During World War II, he broadcast a pro-Fascist series of programs addressed to the Allied troops on Italian radio. Indicted for treason and brought to the United States to stand trial in 1946, he was judged mentally incompetent to prepare a defense and was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. in what is now considered less of a reflection on his sanity than on his politics. After a concerted appeal to the federal government by American poets, led by Robert Frost, Pound was at last released in 1958 and returned to Italy. Critics have recently begun to face squarely the connections between his fascism and his poetry; facts of his life and work continue to arouse mixed feelings. 030

Richard Sieburth hasedited Ezra Pound's Poems & Translations, New Selected Poemsand Translations, The Pisan Cantos and A Walking Tour in Southern France.

Bibliographic information