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Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound
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19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on 1 January 2002
Hooray! Pound's shorter poems are finally available in Britain in a good edition! The old Faber 'Collected Shorter Poems' was rather inadequate (full of mistakes, and unwarranted interference in the layout of the poems). 'Personae' makes available a much more recent, more accurate text, being a reprint of the edition brought out by New Directions in America.
These shorter poems are, to a large extent, the work of Pound's pre-Canto days, but in no way merely immature work. (Much of which Pound excluded when he collected his shorter poems. It is available elsewhere, and not of interest to the general reader.) The earlier poems in 'Personae' see Pound grappling with voice, models (Browning is a great presence in his earlier poems, and Yeats is an influence too), and also searching about for something to write about. 'Cathay' sees him answering all of these questions: in Fellanosa's prose translations from the Chinese, Pound was presented with great poetry that called challenged him to respond with a coherent voice and method. Other poetic enterprises here include the 'Lustra' -- a collection of mostly satiric verse, and the great 'Hugh Selwyn Mauberly' which uses the satirical voice on a fitting subject, English postwar society.
It is indisputable that any account of Modernism must somewhere mention Ezra Pound. He produced critical writings, anthologies, translations (the best of which are included in 'Personae', as deserving to stand beside his original poems), political and social writings (including writings on economics and versions of Confucious), and of course his own poetry. In all these, and in his personal influence, Pound was a vivifying, galvanising force. His poems include some of the greatest written in the Twentieth Century (perhaps the greatest); certainly some of the strangest, most tortuous and perplexing, as well as some of the most lyrical, beautiful, alert and funny.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
Pound accessible. Particularly the Chinese poems shows what poetry can do - recover fragments of emotional history. Highly recommended for just this reason.
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