A Short Analysis of Ezra Pound’s Canto I

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A summary of Pound’s poem

Ezra Pound’s colossal work of modernist poetry, The Cantos, runs to nearly 800 pages and took him over half his life to write – and even then, he never finished it. Pound himself said that the structure of The Cantos could be analysed as follows: ‘Live man goes down into world of dead. “The repeat in history.” The “magic moment” or moment of metamorphosis, bust through from quotidian into “divine or permanent world.” Gods, etc.’ This structure can be observed in the poem which opens The Cantos, predictably but perhaps inevitably titled Canto I, which is an English rendering of a Latin translation of the ancient Greek poem The Odyssey, specifically that section which involves Odysseus and his crew travelling down to Hades, the Underworld. You can read ‘Canto I’ here.

The content of Canto I can be summarised as follows:…

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