A Testimonial for The Cantos of Ezra Pound: Some Testimonies by Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, T. S. Eliot, Hugh Walpole, Archibald MacLeish, James Joyce and Others
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506 ] A Testimonial for The Cantos of Ezra Pound: Some Testimonies by Ernest Hemingway, Ford Madox Ford, T. S. Eliot, Hugh Walpole, Archibald MacLeish, James Joyce and Others New York: Farrar and Rinehart, 1933. Pp. 22; “From T. S. Eliot,” 16-171 I don’t think that the publication of Ezra’s Cantos in this country needs any word from me or from anybody else. It is rather an impertinence. There was a time when it did not seem unfitting for me to write a pamphlet, Ezra Pound, His Poetry and Metric but Ezra was then known only to a few and I was so completely unknown that it seemed more decent that the pamphlet should appear anonymously.2 I owe too much to Ezra to be a critic. (I wish that the manuscript of The Waste Land with Ezra’s criticisms and still more important, his excisions, thank God he reduced a mess of some eight hundred lines to about half its size, might some day be exhumed. John Quinn had it.3 As a masterpiece of critical literature.) I have preached the Cantos for some years now to young practitioners as well as tried to tell them what I owed to Pound in London, Paris, Excideuil and Rapallo.4 (It shall not all be told.) One result is that – I blame no one – my copy of the Cantos had disappeared and I want them to be re-published so that I may have another copy. I find that, with the exception of Mauberley, there is no other contemporary – with disrespect for none, for I include myself – whom I ever want to re-read for pleasure.5 Notes 1. On 13 Aug 1932, Ford Madox Ford invited TSE to contribute a testimonial in support of the forthcoming first American edition of Pound’s A Draft of XXX Cantos (1933). TSE’s testimonial, dated 1 Dec 1932, was composed at Harvard. Fifteen testimonials were collected and issued in pamphlet form for free distribution in connection with Farrar and Rinehart’s publication of Pound’s A Draft of XXX Cantos in Mar 1933. The “Editor’s Note” by “D. C.” (i.e., “Daniel Chaucer” – Ford’s pseudonym) describes TSE as “the revolutionary become Doctor” (4). 2. Ezra Pound: His Metric and Poetry, published anonymously in 1917 by Alfred A. Knopf in New York (1.626). 3. TSE gave the manuscript drafts of The Waste Land to his benefactor John Quinn in Jan 1923. They were sold to the Berg Collection of the New York Public Library in 1958 and first published in Valerie Eliot’s edition of WLF in 1971. [ 507 A Testimonial for The Cantos of Ezra Pound 4. In Aug 1919, TSE stayed with Pound in Excideuil in the Dordogne region of southwest France. In Canto 29, Pound records their visit to the castle ruins, where TSE (“Arnaut”), observing the wave pattern cut in the spire of St. Thomas, startled Pound by saying, “I am afraid of the life after death.” Pound settled in Rapallo in the Liguria region of northern Italy in 1924. TSE paid a visit to him there in Jan 1926 after a rest cure and the drafting of his Clark Lectures in La Turbie, in the Alpes Maritimes. 5. In his introduction to Pound’s Selected Poems (1928), TSE described Hugh Selywn Mauberley (1920) as “much the finest poem, I believe, before the Cantos” (3.522). In a letter to F. R. Leavis of 17 Feb 1932, TSE responded to Leavis’s chapter on Pound in New Bearings in English Poetry (1932): “I am particularly delighted by your praise of ‘Hugh Selwyn Mauberley’ which is as you say a great poem. I admit that I think much more highly of the Cantos than you do, but there we may both be wrong, and time and the completion of that poem, if it is ever completed, will show. But I confess I did feel bewildered by what seems to be a lack of any central conviction or even the search for a conviction in Pound’s work.” ...


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