This small book contains notes for lectures given by the author, and even propositions for student exercises.
Ezra Pound's comments on language, poetry, drama and music are very astute and actual.
There are two kinds of written language, one based on sound (English), the other based on sight (Chinese).
Three chief means charge language with meaning: visual imagination, emotional correlations by sound and speech, and stimulation of associations remained in consciousness in relation to the actual word groups. Most human perceptions date from long time ago, before we were born.
Poetry atrophies when it gets too far from music. Music rots when it gets too far from dance.
The medium of poetry is words; the medium of drama is people, using words.
Cinema supersedes a great deal of second-rate narrative and a great deal of theatre.
On writing and writers, Ezra Pound is very severe.
An author should write in order to teach, to move, to delight (R. Agricola). He should use an efficient, accurate and clear language. He should not use words that contribute nothing to the meaning or that distort from the most important factor of the meaning.
The dirtiest book is a manual telling people how to earn money by writing.
This book contains excellent comments on his preferred authors: Homer, Chaucer, Villon, Dante, Shakespeare, but also G. Crabbe or W.S. Landor.
Some of his examples however, should have been translated (`Ne maeg werigmod wyrde widhstondan').
He stresses rightly the importance of art: `A nation which neglects the perceptions of its artists declines.'
A very worth-while read.