BK. Ezra Pound

70. Letters. Quoted in Slatin (108), 1963.

A and b are in the Yale archive (90a), nos. 406 and 416; c is in the Harriet Monroe Collection, University of Chicago Library, microfilm copy at Yale.

a. To Homer Pound, 18 December 1915. Includes the third-earliest unmistakable reference to The Cantos in the published record (see the Pound introduction for notes about the first two). Pound does not equate his ‘big long endless poem’ with the nô, but had earlier found in the nô evidence for the possibility of a ‘long vorticist poem’ (see 12 and 17f and 87), and Slatin and others point out that the nô provided Pound ‘a model’. By the date of this letter Pound’s version of Nishikigi had appeared in Poetry (8), his versions of Hagoromo and Kinuta in Quarterly Review (13), and Sotoba Komachi, Kayoi Komachi, Suma Genji, Kumasaka, SHÔJÔ, Tamura, and Tsunemasa in Drama (17); the first published draft of canto I (27a) appeared in Poetry eighteen months later.

b. To Isabel Pound, April 1916. Pound writes to his mother that he is ‘doing some “Noh”’ of his own but does not know if he will be able to finish; he did finish, more or less, but the works did not see publication until Gallup brought them to light in 1987 (81). Niikura (147), writing in 1976 and quoting this letter, suggests that the “Noh” to which Pound refers are the early Cantos, but the plays in Gallup’s edition make this seem unlikely.

c. To Harriet Monroe, undated [1917]. A letter of central importance to this study, the full text of which remains unpublished. Pound writes in the letter accompanying his first submission of cantos for publication, the ‘Three Cantos’ that appeared in Poetry in 1917 (27), that his long poem in progress has ‘roughly the theme of “Takasago,” which story I hope to incorporate more explicitly in a later part of the poem’. Pound’s version of Takasago had been submitted to Poetry in 1915, but did not see print until 1993 with publication of his letters to Henderson (88). See, especially, Slatin, Bush (145 and 161), Longenbach (183), and Nicholls (204) for description of the relation between Pound’s work with the nô and his conception of the early cantos.





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