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Tom White <[log in to unmask]>
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- Ezra Pound discussion list of the University of Maine <[log in to unmask]>
Tue, 13 Jul 2004 12:27:48 -0500
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Dirk and others:

Thanks much for enlightenment. Grateful for quote on Blake from Cantos from
several people, which indeed seems to applaud Blake for hitting the satanic
mills hard. And am inclined to accept what you (Dirk) say about Blake's
influence and Pound's "myopia." (I am not a scholar and walk warily in these
waters.) I've tackled Blake's long poems (some years back) and wound up
unenchanted, whereas I was hooked by EP from the start; but then there are a
couple of centuries in there, and one has one's idiosyncratic blindnesses.

On 7/13/04 11:57 AM, "Dirk Johnson" <[log in to unmask]> wrote:

> Tom,
> The exclusion of Blake from "From Confucius to Cummings" represents a
> rare instance of prosodic myopia in Pound.  "The Lamb", for instance, as
> probably the simplest example relative to Blake, has a more complex and
> charming music than virtually anything produced in English in the 18th
> Century.  Blake carved out an entirely new direction in English prosody,
> clearing a path for Shelley and, by extension, Browning and, by
> extension, ...Pound.
> Also, throughout the 19th and for most of the 1st half of the 20th
> century, Blake's long poems were considered by most critics to be
> unreadable jumbles (I don't think anyone has ever said that about the
> Cantos... have they?); even "Milton", which has great clarity and
> obvious structure, was seen as impenetrable.
> But, as Carrol Cox's quotation from Canto XVI seems to indicate (at
> least, indicates to me) Pound didn't see Blake as a member of the enemy
> camp.  I rather suspect that his focus on other poets and his agenda
> caused him to overlook Blake's excellences to some degree.  And, the
> combination of the revolutionary nature of Blake's prosodic and
> narrative style with the Blake's metaphysical bent likely left Pound
> ambivalent toward him.
> It may (implied: may not) also be useful to note that by the time of
> "From Confucius to Cummings" Blake was being erected as a pillar of
> English poetry (a condition that didn't exist at the time of Canto XVI),
> and that this erection was largely based upon Blake's metaphysical bent,
> producing a lot of speculative gobbledygook.  It would be natural for
> Pound to resist Blake's ascension on the basis of such a critical milieu..