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Kevin Cryan
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Clive revisits The Cantos
« : 04.12.07 at 09:22 »
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This is the opening of Clive's essay re-evaluating  Ezra Pound's poem sequence The Cantos which is published in the December 2007 issue of Poetry magazine.
 
"In recent times I have gone back to Pound's Cantos to find out if I was correct in so thoroughly getting over my initial enthusiasm for them, or it. (Whether the Cantos is, or are, a singular or a plural, is a question that I believe answers itself eventually, but only in the way that a heap of rubble gradually becomes part of the landscape.) Fifty years ago, when the mad old amateur fascist was still alive and fulminating, I fell for the idea of his panscopic grab bag the way that I was then apt to fall for the idea of love. As that sweet-if-weird moment in that sad-if-stilted passage in the Pisan Cantos has it: "What thou lovest well remains,/The rest is dross." I especially liked the sound of that at a time when my knowledge of eternity was nineteen years long.  
 
When I fell out of love with the Cantos I fell all the way out, but one of my critical principles, such as they are, is to take account of the history of my critical opinions, on the further principle that they have never existed in some timeless zone apart from the man who held them, but have always been attached to him, like his hair, or, lately, like his baldness. There is a promising analogy there, somewhere: my hair yielded baldness as my enthusiasms yielded disenchantment. First the one thing, then the other, and the second thing clearly definable only in terms of the first"
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Kevin Cryan
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