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About this poet

Ezra Pound is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry. In the early teens of the twentieth century, he opened a seminal exchange of work and ideas between British and American writers, and was famous for the generosity with which he advanced the work of such major contemporaries as W. B. Yeats, Robert Frost, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, H. D., James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway, and especially T. S. Eliot.

His own significant contributions to poetry begin with his promulgation of Imagism, a movement in poetry which derived its technique from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry—stressing clarity, precision, and economy of language and foregoing traditional rhyme and meter in order to, in Pound's words, "compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in the sequence of the metronome." His later work, for nearly fifty years, focused on the encyclopedic epic poem he entitled The Cantos.

Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho, on October 30, 1885. He completed two years of college at the University of Pennsylvania and earned a degree from Hamilton College in 1905. After teaching at Wabash College for two years, he travelled abroad to Spain, Italy, and London, where, as the literary executor of the scholar Ernest Fenellosa, he became interested in Japanese and Chinese poetry. He married Dorothy Shakespear in 1914 and became London editor of the Little Review in 1917.

In 1924, he moved to Italy; during this period of voluntary exile, Pound became involved in Fascist politics, and did not return to the United States until 1945, when he was arrested on charges of treason for broadcasting Fascist propaganda by radio to the United States during World War II. In 1946, he was acquitted, but declared mentally ill and committed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C. During his confinement, the jury of the Bollingen Prize for Poetry (which included a number of the most eminent writers of the time) decided to overlook Pound's political career in the interest of recognizing his poetic achievements, and awarded him the prize for the Pisan Cantos (1948). After continuous appeals from writers won his release from the hospital in 1958, Pound returned to Italy and settled in Venice, where he died, a semi-recluse, on November 1, 1972.

Selected Bibliography


A Draft of Cantos XXXI-XLI (1934)
A Draft of XXX Cantos (1930)
A Lume Spento (1908)
Cantos I-XVI (1925)
Cantos LII-LXXI (1940)
Cantos XVII-XXVII (1928)
Canzoni (1911)
Exultations (1909)
Homage to Sextus Propertius (1934)
Lustra and Other Poems (1917)
Patria Mia (1950)
Personae (1909)
Provenca (1910)
Quia Pauper Amavi (1919)
The Cantos (1972)
The Fifth Decade of Cantos (1937)
The Pisan Cantos (1948)
Umbra: Collected Poems (1920)


ABC of Economics (1933)
Antheil and the Treatise on Harmony (1924)
Digest of the Analects (1937)
Gaudier Brzeska (1916)
Guide to Kulchur (1938)
How To Read (1931)
Imaginary Letters (1930)
Indiscretions (1923)
Instigations (1920)
Jefferson and/or Mussolini (1935)
Literary Essays (1954)
Make It New (1934)
Pavannes and Divisions (1918)
Polite Essays (1936)
Prolegomena: Volume I (1932)
Selected Prose: 1909-1965 (1973)
Social Credit and Impact (1935)
The ABC of Reading (1934)
The Spirit of Romance (1953)
What is Money For? (1939)


Cathay (1915)
The Classic Anthology Defined (1954)
The Great Digest, and the Unwobbling Point (1951)
The Translations of Ezra Pound (1953)

Canto V

Great bulk, huge mass, thesaurus;
Ecbatan, the block ticks and fades out;
The bride awaiting the god’s touch; Ecbatan,
City of patterned streets; again the vision:
Down in the viae stradae, toga’d the crowd, and arm’d
Rushing on populous buriness, and from parapets
Looked down—at North
Was Egypt, and the celestial Nile, blue-deep
                    cutting low barren lands,
Old men and camels working the water-wheels;
                    Measureless seas and stars,
Iamblichus’ light, the souls ascending,
Sparks like a partridge covey,
                    Like the “ciocco,” brand struck in the game.
“Et omniformis”:
                                Air, fire, the pale soft light.
Topaz, I manage, and three sorts of blue;
                                but on the barb of time.
The fire? always, and the vision always,
Ear dull, perhaps, with the vision, flitting
And fading at will. Weaving with points of gold,
Gold-yellow, saffron . . .
                                         The roman show, Aurunculeia’s,
And come shuffling feet, and cries “Da nuces!
“Nuces!” praise and Hymenaeus “brings the girl to her man.”
Titter of sound about me, always,
                                          and from “Hesperus . . .”
Hush of the older song: “Fades light from seacrest,
“And in Lydia walks with pari’d women
“Peerless among the pairs, and that once in Sardis
“In satieties . . .
                  “Fades the light from the sea, and many things
“Are set abroad and brought to mind of thee,”
And the vinestocks lie untended, new leaves come to the shoots,
North wind nips on the bough, and seas in heart
Toss up chill crests,
                    And the vine stocks lie untended
And many things are set abroad and brought to mind
Of thee, Atthis, unfruitful.
                    The talks ran long in the night.
And from Mauleon, fresh with a new earned grade,
In maze of approaching rain-steps, Poicebot—
The air was full of women.
                                            And Savairic Mauleon
Gave him his land and knight’s fee, and he wed the woman.
Came lust of travel on him, or romerya;
and out of England a knight with slow-lifting eyelids
Lei fassar furar a del, put glamour upon her . . .
And left her an eight months gone.
                   “Came lust of woman upon him,”
Poicebot, now on North road from Spain
(Sea-change, a grey in the water)
                     And in small house by town’s edge
Found a woman, changed and familiar face;
Hard night, and parting at morning.

And Pieire won the singing, Pieire de Maensac,
Song or land on the throw, and was dreitz hom
And had De Tierci’s wife and with the war they made:
                                             Troy in Auvergnat
While Menelaus piled up the church at port
He kept Tyndarida. Dauphin stood with de Maensac.

John Borgia is bathed at last.
                    (Clock-tick pierces the vision)
Tiber, dark with the cloak, wet cat gleaming in patches.
Click of the hooves, through garbage,
Clutching the greasy stone. “And the cloak floated”
Slander is up betimes.
                                             But Varchi of Florence,
Steeped in a different year, and pondering Brutus,
                    “SIGA MAL AUTHIS DEUTERON!
“Dog-eye!!” (to Alessandro)
                    “Whether for Love of Florence,” Varchi leaves it,
Saying, “I saw the man, came up with him at Venice,
“I, one wanting the facts,
“And no mean labour.
                                            “Or for a privy spite?”
                    Good Varchi leaves it,
But: “I saw the man. Se pia?O impia? For Lorenzaccio had thought of stroke in the open
“But uncertain (for the Duke went never unguarded) . . .
"And would have thrown him from wall
“Yet feared this might not end him,” or lest Alessandro
Know not by whom death came,
                                            O si credesse
“If when the foot slipped, when death came upon him,
“Lest cousin Duke Alessandro think he’d fallen alone
“No friend to aid him in falling.”
                                            Caina attende.
As beneath my feet a lake, was ice in seeming.
And all of this, runs Varchi, dreamed out beforehand
In Perugia, caught in the star-maze by Del Carmine,
Cast on a natal paper, set with an exegesis, told,
All told to Alessandro, told thrice over,
Who held his death for a doom.
In abuleia.
                  But Don Lorenzino
“Whether for love for Florence . . . but
            “O si morisse, credesse caduto da se.”

                                             SIGA, SIGA!
The wet cloak floats on the surface,
Schiavoni, caught on the wood-barge,
Gives out the afterbirth, Giovanni Borgia,
Trails out no more at nights, where Barabello
Prods the Pope’s elephant, and gets no crown, where Mozarello
Takes the Calabrian roadway, and for ending
Is smothered beneath a mule,
                                            a poet’s ending,
Down a stale well-hole, oh a poet’s ending. “Sanazarro
“Alone out of all the court was faithful to him”
For the gossip of Naples’ trouble drifts to North,
Fracastor (lightning was midwife) Cotta, and Ser D’Alviano,
Al poco giorno ed al gran cerchio d’ombra,
Talk the talks out with Navighero,
Burner of yearly Martials,
                  (The slavelet is mourned in vain)
And the next comer
                    says “were nine wounds,
“Four men, white horse with a double rider,”
The hooves clink and slick on cobbles . . .
Schiavoni . . . the cloak floats on the water,
“Sink the thing,” splash wakes Schiavoni;
Tiber catching the nap, the moonlit velvet,
A wet cat gleaming in patches.
                                           “Se pia,” Varchi
“O empia, ma risoluto
“E terribile deliberazione”
                   Both sayings run in the wind,
Ma si morisse! 

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound is generally considered the poet most responsible for defining and promoting a modernist aesthetic in poetry.

by this poet


I looked and saw a sea
                               roofed over with rainbows,
In the midst of each
                               two lovers met and departed;
Then the sky was full of faces
                               with gold glories behind them.


O fan of white silk,
            clear as frost on the grass-blade,
You also are laid aside.

Loquitur: En Bertrans de Born.
  Dante Alighieri put this man in hell for that he was a 
  stirrer-up of strife.
  Judge ye!
  Have I dug him up again?
The scene in at his castle, Altaforte.  "Papiols" is his jongleur.
"The Leopard," the device of Richard (Cúur de Lion).


Damn it all!  all this our