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

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  690 ratings  ·  36 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 1,361)
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Rhythmic, meaningful, dense with historical references from troubadors to Li Po and Tertullian.

When I behold how black, immortal ink
Drips from my deathless pen--ah, well-away!
Why should we stop at all for what I think?
There is enough in what I chance to say.

It is enough that we once came together;
What is the use of setting it to rime?
When it is autumn do we get spring weather,
Or gather may of harsh northwindish time?

It is enough that we once came together;
What if the wind have turned against the rain?
It is enough that we once came together;
Time has seen this, and will not turn agai
Rahil Swan
I didn't read it from cover to cover in fact, I guess I need a more profound background in order to understand it better , I'll read it when i'll improve my language and my Latin culture :p But I loved what i managed to understand! i discovered great lines !
(I sough and sing / that love goes out/ leaving me no power to hold him/ Of love i have naught ) :'(
( Even in my dreams you have denied yourself to me, and sent me your handmaids ) <3
(But from where my heart is set/ No message I get / M
"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.
Peter Crofts
Reading Pound's early poetry gives no clue that he will become one of the leading lights of the first generation of modernist poets. "In Durance" is by far one of my favorite poems of the last century, it's almost gnostic, but it looks back to the past. By the end of the volume you are smack dab in the middle of a literary revolution, with something like Hugh Selwyn Mauberly, that is still playing out. This volume also contains Cathay which are his translations of Chinese poetry of the Tang dyna ...more
LK MacDhòmhnaill
I do not like you, Ezra Pound.
You are a fascist and a racist and a raging anti-semite, and (perhaps most irritating of all) a bloody good poet.
Great stuff. Mauberly, Propertius, Cathay...superb
Poems from Cathay were some of the greatest things I've ever read. Pound's actual poetry was too dense for me. He frequently alluded to history and literary characters that I had no clue about, Pound is too smart for me. There were a few gems that popped up, but there were too few. By all means he was probably the greatest teacher to have ever lived, and had a knowledge of the poetic tradition that is unrivaled. Unfortunately I found a lot of his poems not very moving to say the least. Probably ...more
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.
Yuri Bernales
Look at this guy:

That sort of poet.
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.
"Tantos millares de bellezas han bajado al Averno, dejad que alguna se quede arriba con nosotros..."
Apart from the exhausting Antiquity-gauntlet which is "Homage to Sextus Propertius," everything here is golden. Would love to delve into the Cantos soon.
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.
Daniel Seifert
Oct 08, 2011 Daniel 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.
Laura Wetsel
I sleep with this under my pillow.
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  • "A"
  • The Maximus Poems
  • Paterson
  • The Changing Light at Sandover
  • The Bridge
  • Bending the Bow
  • Harmonium
  • Ark
  • Gunslinger
  • The Pound Era
  • Collected Works
  • The Sonnets
  • Houseboat Days
  • Grave of Light: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2005
  • Collected Poems of George Oppen
  • The Collected Poems, 1945-1975
  • My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry
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...

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“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.”
“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.”
More quotes…