Talk:The Cantos

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Former featured article The Cantos is a former featured article. Please see the links under Article milestones below for its original nomination page (for older articles, check the nomination archive) and why it was removed.
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Start date. I knew that 1915 is mentioned as the inception; but a reference says that Pound essentially made a fresh start in 1922, and wrote quite fluently after that. He wrote a canto every two or three months for the following decade. So I was trying to say this, without getting bogged down in the chronology. Evidently he wrote on after 1959, too. Charles Matthews 17:51, 23 Nov 2004 (UTC)

Hi: I changed this date to harmonise with work I was doing on Modernist poetry in English. I'll check the references and come back to this, but in general terms, I think you're right. Maybe an edit to the text to clarify? Filiocht 08:27, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

Sure. And I'm sure the article could be expanded somewhat. Charles Matthews 09:16, 24 Nov 2004 (UTC)

I hope to give a hand with this article (and to improve Ezra Pound) once I've done what I can with Modernist poetry in English. By the way, thanks for starting this, it killed a number of red links in articles I worked on before! Filiocht 09:54, Nov 24, 2004 (UTC)

Lead section[edit]

Just a note: I tend to feel that this is a bit too anti-Pound, to the point where the casual reader might ask why bother create the article if the poetry is so indefensible. Would anyone agree? Filiocht 13:47, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)

The obvious answer would be that the work is evidently notable; which is why it is here. The POV here possibly does err; since the cited sources are very clearly pro-Pound, it is a little difficult for me to see where the middle ground might lie. Perhaps I'll look again at The Trouble with Genius (1994) by Bob Perelman, which I read a little while ago. My ideas on what Pound was up to were probably formed more by that, than by the cited references (which I haven't read). I also read most of the Humphrey Carpenter biography, which I thought was very good in giving an impression of the man; but it is not academic. Charles Matthews 14:05, 29 Nov 2004 (UTC)
I started re-reading the Cantos last night, one at a time, and will start a kind of bullet-point summary, now that the knotty question of the poem's beginning has been discussed. Obviously, this will take some time, but I have a couple of the cited refs at home, and that should help. You'd enjoy The Pound Era, I think. Filiocht 14:24, Nov 29, 2004 (UTC)
I agree with the original commentator here. I havent read "The Cantos" or anything, but this section, to me, reads like it was written by a bitter college student or something. Moving from topic to topic without transition, a plethora of ideas, these things are just part of Modernist writing, but this article reads like these things are "weird," which is true...if you have no interest in literature. If you are interested in the Cantos, it shouldnt be particularly notable that the poem is written in a style which is difficult to comprehend. So is nearly every other poem written in this manner-SF —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 17:21, 16 February 2009 (UTC)

Lorendo di Medici?[edit]

I don't know much about Pound or the Cantos, nor the Medicis, so I haven't changed it, but I assume Lorendo di Medici really is Lorenzo de' Medici? Tobyox 23:06, Feb 24, 2005 (UTC)

Broken Image Link?[edit]

The image of John Adams doesn't seem to load properly.

Loading fine for me. Filiocht 14:21, Mar 4, 2005 (UTC)
And me. --Theo (Talk) 14:47, 4 Mar 2005 (UTC)


A. A. Live man goes down into world of dead.
C. B. 'The repeat in history.'
B. C. The 'magic moment' or moment of metamorphosis, bust through from quotidian into 'divine or permanent world.' Gods, etc.

I don't understand these letters. Rich Farmbrough 12:49, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Ehm.. Missing title?[edit]

Cantos I – XVI "whose war memories the poem includes a passage from (in French)." From what, exactly?
Rich Farmbrough 13:00, 5 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Someone left a note[edit]

User:Hippopotamus left a note at the new user log that relates to this article [1]. I'll put this note here and on Talk:Ezra Pound. — Trilobite (Talk) 6 July 2005 15:17 (UTC)

(Also posted on Talk:Ezra Pound.) Trilobite, I don't think Hippopotamus is alleging plagiarism, but simply proper use of his book, which he wants to see referenced. I've left a note on Hippopotamus' talk page, telling him that Filiocht is the author of The Cantos and also (I think) the main presence behind Ezra Pound. Filiocht is on holiday, but likely to return quite soon, so I asked if Hippopotamus would like to tell me more about it, so I can take care of referencing his work and anything else that arises, or would rather wait for Filiocht. Bishonen | talk 6 July 2005 16:37 (UTC)

(Main discussion over at Talk:Ezra Pound.) In case there was any doubt, I'd like to say here that I would not even think of accusing Filiocht of plagiarism, and was just passing on the message. — Trilobite (Talk) 19:56, 13 July 2005 (UTC)

Needs a better summary[edit]

I'm sure the detailed discussions of the sections are very erudite. I'm not familiar with the poem, so I can't really say. But the the introductary paragraphs lack a summary of what the poem is *about*.

Compare with articles on The Waste Land:

dealing with the decline of civilization and the impossibility of recovering meaning in life.

or The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock

The poem itself tells the inner feelings of a man in love who realises that his aspirations and his outlook on life are much deeper than those of the rest of the people. He feels the need to stir those around him, to make them conscious of the seriousness of life and of their frivolity, but at the same time he fears being rejected and mocked. Another thematic element is the subject of ageing: the speaker contemplates his wearied heart (vis-à-vis the mornings and afternoons he has known), the repetitions inherent in life causing his physical deterioration (a bald spot, weak teeth making him fear food), and the consuming idea of an impending death.

I came to this article looking for a brief explanation of the subject or theme of the poem, and am still wondering... Jeffr 16:36, 7 April 2006 (UTC)

Sorely lacking[edit]

I'm sorry to say it; but I think that this article is well below our current standards for Featured Articles, yet it remains listed as one. The primary issues I see are poor large scale structure and no inline references. I shall thus soon nominate it for FAR. -- Rmrfstar 21:36, 6 August 2007 (UTC)

  • The Cantos is one of Wikipedia's most scholarly and accomplished pages. If not the most accomplished page on the encyclopedia. If wikipedia even considers casting such a page as this into oblivion then those that do so would be the stupendously ignorant doing the encyclopedia a grave disservice. Giano 22:19, 6 August 2007 (UTC)
Perhaps it is; perhaps I was too rash in my judgement of the article by superficial measures... but, realistically, does it meet all of the Featured Article criteria? This article may be the best on Wikipedia; but does it satisfy these well established and clearly defined standards? In this respect at least, The Cantos is, in my opinion, lacking; and for this reason, I believe it should not be listed as an FA. I don't believe it would pass FAC today. It seems, however, that other editors disagree: the recent FAR of Palladian architecture suggests that this one might be kept, too, if nominated. Forgetting FAR for the moment, how can we update this article's formatting and let the article keep the recognition it deserves? -- Rmrfstar 01:08, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
It's not clear to me what structure you would prefer; proceeding through the sections in order seems quite natural. Christopher Parham (talk) 02:58, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
You write that "This article may be the best on Wikipedia" and yet you don't think it should be a featured article? That makes absolutely no sense to me. The featured article process is about honoring and presenting "our very best work" not about satisfying a bunch of rules. Paul August 04:35, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
I wrote that with tongue in cheek. -- Rmrfstar 02:29, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Concerning the "large scale structure" and "formatting" issues, could please say what you think the problems are exactly? Perhaps we can address them. Paul August 04:41, 7 August 2007 (UTC)
  • "Flat" structure. There is a lack of cohesion between the sections on the groups of cantos; there is only direct description with too little analysis of the work as a whole. It seems to me that there should be much more discussion of the whole poem and less of the individual sections. For the average curious adult looking up the process that Pound went through in writing The Cantos, for instance, the article is, I think, a little unreadable. One must read almost the whole article for any given subtopic of The Cantos.
  • Likewise, one must read an entire second level section of the article to learn any given thing about its topic. This is due to the zero subsectioning within the Canto groupings beyond that of paragraphs. This makes longer sections very difficult to read, e.x. ==(The Pisan Cantos)==.
  • Lastly, most concretely, and therefore not least, there is way too little inline referencing, at least by the standards of today. -- Rmrfstar 02:29, 8 August 2007 (UTC)
Are these not valid concerns? -- Rmrfstar 22:42, 14 August 2007 (UTC)

So you're saying you want tiny nuggets instead of well-written sections, and you are so attached to inline cites that you think unless an article is peppered with them like the Intelligent design article, which btw was recently sent to FAR for too many inline cites, it is somehow substandard? Am I understanding you correctly? KillerChihuahua?!? 13:56, 25 August 2007 (UTC)

Are those rhetorical questions? Obviously, there should be more subsectioning and organization; and there should be more inline citations. That means these things should be somewhere between where they are now, and the other extremes that you described. -- Rmrfstar 18:36, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
No, they are not rhetorical, and it is clearly less than obvious to me that what you state is needed, would in fact improve this article. I am attempting to make sense of your posts. You state "one must read an entire second level section of the article to learn any given thing about its topic" which sounds like you want little nuggets of information. Now you inform me "there should be more subsectioning and organization" which amounts to the same thing - smaller chunks. You also state repeatedly that the article needs more inline citations. Please specify what content in the article you think is inadequately sourced, rather than make a blanket statement without providing anything concrete to back up your assertion. Your assertions that there are issues with this article and it should go to FAR are at this point merely that; unsupported assertions. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:17, 25 August 2007 (UTC)
"Little nuggets of information" is absurd. I want smaller, more organized sections so that readers can find what they want faster. To use a metaphor, this article is a textbook with chapters but no subheadings. For instance, let's say I want to learn about the process than Pound went through to write LXXIV. There is zero delineation (beyond that of paragraphs) within the section "LXXIV – LXXXIV (The Pisan Cantos)", that might guide me to the correct section. In fact, there is no section. I don't know whether to look at the first few paragraphs of the section on all the Pisan Cantos, or the paragraphs on everything else concerning canto LXXIV. The larger section, while undoubtedly well-written, is thus hard to read! I don't want the writing to change; I just want some organization. Yes, I want smaller sections. Smaller sections (not too small) are easier to navigate. I do not want "little nuggets". That implies sections that are too small. I can appreciate how well some of this prose flows. I do not want to destroy this; but a few headers here and there marking specific subjects would do no harm and might do a lot of good.
Concerning inline citations, I would like the entire article to be sourced. Since this is the standard for FAs today, any article which is sourced less than this is substandard. Of course, I don't expect this. But some more inline citations would be great. For example, the quotation in ==Controversy== by Marjorie Perloff, should have a more precise source, especially concerning the controversial subject of the quotation. -- Rmrfstar 02:45, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
I am sorry if you object to my terminology, "little nuggets" apparently has connotations for you to which you object, but I believe I do comprehend what you are talking about, and hope you can move past this quibble on precise meanings of colloquial phrasing and personal connotations. I do not see need for further sectioning and sub-sectioning to split the article into ever decreasing size bites, however it is phrased.
The entire article is sourced. You are asking for inline citation of (so far) one specific quote. That quote is from the Online reference (see article page) * Marjorie Perloff on Pound Captured December 9, 2004. You are saying you wish this to be converted to an inline cite? Allow me to remind you that any other content which uses this source will also have to be added to the inline cites for this source, which will not improve the articles' appearance nor readability. KillerChihuahua?!? 11:54, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
I don't object to the terminology you're using; but the meaning of it, which represents your misunderstanding of my requests. For instance, your phrase "ever decreasing size bites" is not what I ask for. Plenty of articles have smaller (and better) subsectioning which fail to shrink to infinitessimal size. Whether or not you see this, you fail to refute my arguments that information within the article is hard to find quickly.
Regarding inline citations. I apologize for criticizing the citation of that specific quote; I did not realize it was sourced (however meagerly). Nevertheless, almost every other statement or paragraph in the article should be independently verifiable, and thus necessarily sourced directly. This means inline citations. When I pointed to the Perloff quote above, I did not say it was unsourced; but that it should be more precisely sourced. And you don't have to remind me of the problems with inline citations, I have done much such citing in my time; nevertheless, everything in the article should be sourced more directly.
Let's say I, the reader, want to know the source of the statement, (imagine that I dispute its valididy), "During this period, his main source of income was a series of radio broadcasts he made on Rome Radio." In most other featured articles, this would be no problem. In The Cantos it is very difficult. -- Rmrfstar 12:42, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

(Outdent) Allow me to be brief. Four editors have responded to you; all disagree with your position. Have you considered the possibility that you are, if not wrong, at the very least championing a minority opinion as regards this extremely well written and impeccably sourced FA? KillerChihuahua?!? 22:46, 26 August 2007 (UTC)

I know that this is an extremely well-written and decently sourced article; but it is not up to modern FA standards. I know that I hold the minority opinion of the editors that have responded; that does not mean that I am definitely wrong. It might mean that these editors were mostly those who had worked on the article and thus biased. I do not think I'm wrong; none has argued effectively against me (by my estimation). If those that respond fail to satisfy my concerns, I'll simply let a more neutral set of editors at FAR decide. -- Rmrfstar 23:04, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
The primary author was Filiocht, who alas has not edited Wikipedia in some time. I have never edited this article. KillerChihuahua?!? 23:14, 26 August 2007 (UTC)
My wording was intentionally ambiguous, as I was not trying to make a serious point: I used the words "might" and "mostly" in that statement. Alas, it is only half: Paul August and Giano (who supported the article at FAC and worked on the peer review). That's two out of four. I consider that portion statistically significant. In addition to having more neutral readers, FAR should have more plentiful opinions. And please, be civil in your edit summaries. I can see those too. -- Rmrfstar 03:01, 27 August 2007 (UTC)
You were meant to; it is a pity you took nothing from it but seized it as yet another opportunity to lecture someone on their supposed incivility. KillerChihuahua?!? 07:59, 27 August 2007 (UTC)

Controversy section[edit]

Proposed language for the beginning paragraph of the controversy section pulled from User talk:Paul August:

Sentence a) The Cantos always provoked controversy over the experimental nature of the writing but this intensified after 1940 when Pound's public approval for Mussolini's fascism became widely known.
Sentence b) Critical discussion of the poem has focused on the relationship between Pound's controversial beliefs (his economic thesis on usura, his anti-Semitism, his adulation of Confucian ideals of government and his attitude towards fascism) with passages of lyrical poetry and the historical scene-setting that he performed with his 'ideographic' technique.

Justification: Tightens the language, removes the repetition of controversy, connects all the ideas together. For "b", the paranthesis emphasize the relationship of the topics while not confusing people with a long list that is separated by commas merging into a comparative clause that is separated by commas.

Ottava Rima (talk) 17:49, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

For the most part, the proposed new language is fine with me — with one caveat. I think that "Crtical discussion" needs to be quantified, otherwise the implication is that the majority of "critical discussion" has focused on these points, which I doubt is the case, and certainly not what the original was saying. Would "considerable critical discussion" work for you? "significant"? Although to my ear "much" sounds better than either of these. Otherwise, I think the tightening is good. Paul August 18:53, 21 July 2008 (UTC) P.S. Would you mind copying this discussion to Talk:The Cantos? It is really best there. Thanks.

--- End copy and paste ---

Now, I do not know what sources were originally used to discuss the controversial topics. There are a lot of sources out there. By introducing these topics, we should "nod" to the important critics who discuss the topics. This can be accomplished as a pseudo-list or some similar grouping. Ottava Rima (talk) 18:57, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

Response to Paul August's last point on "much". The word "much" (as many of the other possibilities) seems out of place grammatically. It would make sense in a verbal conversation, but it looks strange on paper. The word "much" is not an adjective in its current/previous use, so it seems strange to modify "critical discussion". If we want to go with an adj modifier, than here are some: substantial, significant, ample, etc. Now, the proposed sentence could be reworked further to say: "A common trend in critical discussion" or some variation of that. Ottava Rima (talk) 19:05, 21 July 2008 (UTC)

"However, the notion that a single Jew's opinion about Pound is sufficient to refute charges of anti-Semitism is questionable, if not repellent and offensive." Really? This consitutes "neutral point of view"? If you feel the need to moralize, please do so elsewhere. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 20:20, 26 June 2011 (UTC)


Another editor has suggested, on a disambiguation page, that the Rock-Drill section was inspired by Jacob Epstein's sculpture Rock Drill. Is that so? If so, can someone please add a citation and link? Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 11:27, 14 May 2013 (UTC)

Yes, that's the story. Give me a few minutes to look through my books. Deor (talk) 11:18, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Well, I was misremembering. Both Noel Stock and Hugh Kenner say that the title was taken from Wyndham Lewis's review of The Letters of Ezra Pound, so it wasn't directly inspired by Epstein's sculpture. I've adjusted the dab page accordingly and added a source for the titling to The Cantos#LXXXV–XCV (Section: Rock-Drill). Deor (talk) 12:06, 30 May 2013 (UTC)
Thank you. Since WL was friend of Epstein, that may still be a reference to the latter's work, but of course we'd need a source rather than my conjecture. Andy Mabbett (Pigsonthewing); Talk to Andy; Andy's edits 13:09, 30 May 2013 (UTC)