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Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound
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Personae: The Shorter Poems of Ezra Pound

4.12 of 5 stars 4.12  ·  rating details  ·  599 ratings  ·  28 reviews
If the invention of literary modernism is usually attributed to James Joyce, T. S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, it was Pound alone who provided (in Hugh Kenner's words) "the synergetic presence" to convert individual experiment into an international movement. In 1926 Pound carefully sculpted his body of shorter poems into a definitive collection which would best show the concentr ...more
Paperback, 304 pages
Published April 9th 2001 by Faber and Faber (first published 1971)
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(showing 1-30 of 1,132)
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"And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
not shaking the grass"

More truth in these four lines than anything I have ever read.

Resolute and profound. I could read it over and over again.
Specifically I read Homage to Sextus Propertius, which I believe is in this edition of this book. I have a much older copy. Although I don't think I "got" a good percentage of the Greek references, I did love it for the sound and rhythm. I found myself readng it aloud.
Great stuff. Mauberly, Propertius, Cathay...superb
Rob Woodard
I've been wrestling with Pound for years, and I've finally come to the conclusion that in regards to pure ability he's the best poet I've ever read. His understanding of language, meter and melody in verse is simple unbelievable. When he's rolling, his lines have so much life and are so much fun that they put the work of most poets to shame. Often, though, he erudition gets the best of him and he seems to confuse personal obsession with cultural worth, which creates a lot of needless obscurity a ...more
Talbot Hook
Empty are the ways,
Empty are the ways of this land
And the flowers
Bend over with heavy heads.
They bend in vain.
Empty are the ways of this land
Where Ione
Walked once, and now does not walk
But seems like a person just gone.
Piet Michael
These poems are very high-browed and written in old-fashioned style with Trobadorian topics. They are partly hard to read, but intriguing after all.
In addition to being a jerk, Pound was clearly intelligent and passionate about poetry, but a poet's actual interest has to be in life, and I get the impression Pound's interest was only in poetry. When he includes his "translations" of other poets who dared write about human experience, a breath of air comes suddenly into the book, and then quickly departs as we return to Pound's gratuitously obscure, self-important little discourses on himself or on his latest reading.
Rachel Smalter Hall
This book has one of my favorite lines of poetry ever. It's from Pound's poem about the river-merchant's wife. Observing pairs of butterflies as she thinks of her departed husband, she says simply, beautifully:

"They hurt me. I grow older."

Oh, Ezra Pound, you were such a kook. A stodgy old brilliant kook. I never would have wanted to know you in real life. But I guess I can say that about a lot of crotchety old writers.
Cooper Renner
Even in this selection from Pound's early career, there are poems one doesn't need--hence the docking of one star from the rating. But this remains one of the premier books of poetry of the 20th century, one of the very few which readers ought to have. Perhaps my favorite is Homage to Sextus Propertius (which some classical scholars hate), but "The River Merchant's Wife" is also here and many other fine works.
I love a lot of Ezra Pound's poetry. If sometimes he seems too technical, it's always with some type of emotion...that perhaps he pilfered from the past, but still. Second-hand sublimity is sublimity still.

I consider Pound a musician. Even when I don't understand what his poems are saying, they still sound beautiful. The rhythm gets-- what does he say?-- caught in your ear. Pound is my Penelope.
Peter Barnes

Be in me as the eternal moods
of the bleak wind, and not
As transient things are—
gaiety of flowers.
Have me in the strong loneliness 5
of sunless cliffs
And of gray waters.
Let the gods speak softly of us
In days hereafter,
the shadowy flowers of Orcus 10
Remember thee.
I read about half of these poems, and I'm a poetry newb, but they were alright. My knowledge of ancient Greek literature extends as far as maybe a play or two by Sophocles, so I got nothing of those references. In general, Pound is trying to be too erudite. Plus he's a fascist and all that.
I like Ezra Pound. I know a lot of people will disagree for a lot of different reasons, but this is one of my favorite volumes of poetry (it's also hard to imagine greater diversity in a collection of one poet's work).
Perhaps the most difficult poetry that I've ever tried to read. Maybe even more difficult than John Donne, if that's possible.
DJ Seifert
Oct 08, 2011 DJ Seifert marked it as picked-up-periodically  ·  review of another edition
A found an old version, a New Direction Book (1926) while helping an old French professor clean out out his flat
There's a lot of poetic variety here, and Pound does it all well. I especially like them when they're short.
What is there to say about Ezra Pound people haven't said before? The solitary volcano indeed!
Really enjoyed the poem
The River-Merchant's Wife: A Letter
Bill Bogert
Deeply influenced by the poem Hugh Selwyn Mauberley
Probably the only book of poetry I thoroughly enjoyed.
May 02, 2012 wigwam marked it as partially-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
5/2 - i like this one called Cino
Laura Wetsel
I sleep with this under my pillow.
Gary McDowell
Has some excerpts from Cathay!
Re-reading yet again.
Pound is OK I guess.
nobody punctuates like Pound
In Durance
Sebastian marked it as to-read
Nov 21, 2014
Ben N
Ben N added it
Nov 16, 2014
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  • "A"
  • The Maximus Poems
  • Paterson
  • Gunslinger
  • The Changing Light at Sandover
  • The Sonnets
  • The Bridge: A Poem
  • Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005
  • The Opening of the Field
  • The Collected Poems, 1945-1975
  • Houseboat Days
  • Collected Works
  • Collected Poems of George Oppen
  • Harmonium
  • The Complete Poems and Plays, 1909-1950
  • My Life
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was an American expatriate poet, critic and intellectual who was a major figure of the Modernist movement in early-to-mid 20th century poetry.

Pound's The Cantos contains music and bears a title that could be translated as The Songs—although it never is. Pound's ear was tuned to the motz et sons of troubadour poetry where, as musicologist John Stevens has noted, "melody and
More about Ezra Pound...
Selected Poems The Cantos ABC of Reading Literary Essays of Ezra Pound The Pisan Cantos

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“We claim no glory. If the tempest rolls
About us we have fear, and then
Having so small a stake grow bold again.
We know not definitely even this
But 'cause some vague half knowing half doth miss
Our consciousness and leaves us feeling
That somehow all is well, that sober, reeling
From the last carouse, or in what measure
Of so called right or so damned wrong our leisure
Runs out uncounted sand beneath the sun,
That, spite your carping, still the thing is done
With some deep sanction, that, we know not how,
Sans thought gives us this feeling; you allow
That this not need we know our every thought
Or see the work shop where each mask is wrought
Wherefrom we view the world of box and pit,
Careless of wear, just so the mask shall fit
And serve our jape's turn for a night or two.”
“Till now they send him dreams and no more deed;
So doth he flame again with might for action,
Forgetful of the council of the elders,
Forgetful that who rules doth no more battle,
Forgetful that such might no more cleaves to him
So doth he flame again toward valiant doing.”
More quotes…