The Pound that matters is early Pound, essentially the Pound of the London years. He arrived in London to stay (he had visited earlier) on August 14, 1908 and within a decade or so of that date had composed most of what is permanently valuable in his enormous oeuvre.

Pound had been a bright and prolific young poet before settling in London. He was born in Hailey, Idaho in 1885 and educated at Hamilton and Penn; Humphrey Carpenter, in his excellent biography, tells of how, back at Penn in 1906 to write a doctoral thesis on the gracioso in Spanish drama, Pound

put his name down for classes in Provençal, Sicilian poetry, the Chanson de Roland, Boccaccio, Dante … and plays by Lope de Vega and his contemporaries … he abandoned it all almost at once, scarcely turning up for anything.

It’s an anecdote prophetic both of Pound’s slapdash ways with...

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