Articles on Pound

Agnes Bedford: An Invisible Helpmate

Roxana Preda requested this article for her magnificent collection The Edinburgh Companion to Ezra Pound and the Arts (2019). I had copies of both sides of the correspondence, so it was not difficult to write, but it turned out to have new information about Wyndham Lewis as well


"Pound, Olga Rudge, and the 'Risveglio Vivaldiano'." Paideuma 4 (1975): 111-118
One still sees the composer Alfredo Casella given credit for early stages of the Vivaldi revival in the 1930s and ‘40s, both by general writers and musicologists who ought to know better. The credit belongs with Ezra Pound and Olga Rudge, as my article demonstrates.


"Are the Cantos a Fugue?" University of Toronto Quarterly (1975): 67-74. Reprinted in Literature and Music: Essays on Form, ed. Nancy A. Cluck. Brigham Young University Press, 1981
I am always sceptical about loose analogies between literary and musical concepts of form. Here is my argument, and I am grateful to Nancy Cluck for thinking it “important.”

"A Case for Pound's 'Seafarer'." Mosaic  9 (1976): 127-146
The last requirement for my PhD under Toronto’s old regulations was an undergraduate course in Old English. I was worried because my attempts to satisfy it in Toronto were taught by impossible old-school fuddy-duddies interested only in grammar. I had a taste of old-school philology there. In 1970 I married and moved to London, dissertation done, jobless; but at Western I was able to take the course from Prof. Connie Hieatt, a truly inspiring teacher. For my term paper, I decided to do a job on Pound’s version of “The Seafarer,” which was then still being derided by philologists for its “errors.” This is the result (and Connie Hieatt loved it).


"Ezra Pound and Provencal Melopoeia." Four Decades 2 (January 1978): 27-48
This piece on Pound’s many attempts to translate poems from the Provençal (or Occitan as it’s now called) was revised from my dissertation and for a variety of reasons had difficulty finding publication. So when some friends in Toronto started a new journal on the origins of Modernism called Four Decades and asked me to contribute, I offered this. The journal failed and I don’t know where it can now be found, but I was gratified to see the reviewer in A Year’s Work in English Studies describe it as “surprisingly good.”


"Pound's Quantities and 'Absolute Rhythm'." Essays in Literature 4 (1977): 95-109
This is a precursor to the more comprehensive later article on Pound’s “metrical contract.” It deals more closely than the later article with metrical quantity in English.


"The Soundscape of the Cantos: Some Ideas of Music in the Poetry of Ezra Pound." Humanities Association Review 28 (Spring 1977): 167-188
This is a somewhat impressionistic piece on the surface value of soundscape in Pound’s poetic world.


“Musical Neofism: Pound’s Theory of Harmony in Context.” Mosaic XIII, 2 (1980): 49-70
At the time, Antheil’s music was largely unplayed and forgotten, a situation happily improved since then. “Neofism” was his contraction for “neo-futurism,” and the article aligns both Antheil and Pound with the noise music of Luigi Russolo and the Italian Futurists – a movement that is also more widely known now than when I wrote.


“Apovitch in Canto 12.” Paideuma 15 (Fall, 1986): 131-134
A note identifying one of Pound’s pseudonyms and identifying Carl Sandburg’s presence in The Cantos.


“The Metrical Contract of The Cantos.” Journal of Modern Literature 15 (Summer 1988): 55-72
This essay brings together my two greatest fascinations, the poetry of Pound, and the prosodic workings of free verse. It is the work on Pound that I am most proud of.

“Irony and Common Sense: The Genre of Mauberley.” Paideuma 18 (Spring 1989): 147-160
When this article appeared, the understanding of Pound’s “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley” was seriously obfuscated by a reading proposed by Donald Davie in an essay widely used in England by students swatting up for exams and then elaborated in a book by Davie’s own student Jo Brantley Berryman. I found this reading impossible – not a supplementary understanding of the poem but bluntly wrong. “Mauberley” is difficult enough, and quite poetically satisfying, without these specious complications. I am glad to say that Davie’s reading has died a natural death since this appeared.


“Pound in the Theatre: The Dramatic Background of Pound’s Operas.” In Leon Surette and Demetres Tryphonopoulos, eds., Literary Modernism and the Occult Tradition (Orono: National Poetry Foundation, 1996), 147-62.
I was honored to be given the Pound essay in this collection by two of the finest Pound scholars. My own interest in the “occult tradition,” unlike theirs, is tangential, but Pound’s operas are imbued with his study of the Noh, and thus directly tied to his collaboration with Yeats. Pound had more interest in the theater than he is given credit for, since it was expressed in work outside The Cantos – the operas, the two translations from Sophokles, four unpublished short plays. But he used the mask of theater for deeply personal purposes (see “Reflections on Pound’s Operas).


“Reflections on Pound’s Operas.” In Margaret Fischer and Robert Hughes, eds., Le Testament: An Opera by Ezra Pound (Emoryville, CA: Second Evening Art, 2011), n.p.

I was asked to write on Pound’s operas for the M.L.A. Conference in 2008. By that time, my work had moved on, supplanted by the expert scholarship of Robert Hughes and Margaret Fischer, so my response was a series of questions and suggestions for placing the operas in the overall context of Pound’s work. While scholars continue to see The Cantos as Pound’s creative focus after 1920, I am convinced that his work was divided, the public, impersonal Pound given to his epic Cantos, and his personal emotions spoken through the masks of Villon, Cavalcanti, Catullus, and the Sophoclean Herakles in The Women of Trachis. Bob and Margaret were kind enough to include my paper in the final volume of their publication of Pound’s music, but I offer it again here.


Ezra Pound and Music by R. Murray Schafer. Music Magazine 1, ii (April, 1978): 32-33


Ezra Pound and Music by R. Murray Schafer. Paideuma (Spring, 1978): 327-332

Victory in Limbo: Imagism 1908-1917 by J.B. Harmer; of Harriet Monroe and the Poetry Renaissance: The First Ten Years of "Poetry" 1912-22 by Ellen Williams; of John Gould Fletcher and Imagism by Edmund S. de Chasca; of Selected Letters of Conrad Aiken edited by Joseph Killorin. Four Decades Special Review Supplement (January 1979): 20-24

"More on Pound."  Review of books by Wendy Flory, Forrest Read, Carroll F. Terrell, Anthony Woodward. Canadian Review of American Studies 13 (Fall 1982): 245-51

"Books on Pound from UMI." Canadian Review of American Studies 17 (Fall, 1986): 367-373 

Reviews of books by Jo Brantley Berryman, Guy Davenport, Peter d’Epiro, and Ron Thomas.

Reviews of Robert Hughes and Margaret Fisher, works on Pound and Music.