The first canto contains the longest stretch of straight narrative in the entire collection of cantos, namely Homer's story of Odysseus's visit to the underworld to consult with the prophet Tiresias. The poem uses a mixture of Latin and English sources for its language. The poem begins, actually, as a translation of Divus's Latin version of Book II of the Odyssey. The canto looks beyond Homeric culture into a darker past, as if the modern mind, before it can escape the labyrinthine confusions of its age, must establish cantact with forgotten beginnings.
So in the course of his cantos, Pound returns to other beginnings, among them the Magna Carta and the American Revolution. Canto I is a deliberate confusion or conflation of beginnings and traditions, including the Anglo-Saxon: the poem also includes Pound's translation of the Anglo-Saxon "Seafarer" (of the ninth century[?]).
Document URL: http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/first-canto.html
Last modified: Wednesday, 18-Jul-2007 16:25:42 EDT