I think I would have agreed with you until I interviewed Denise
Levertov, and she made a very major point about the way she produces
books. She distinguishes one of her books as having been written as a
book and the others not:
"Aside from TO STAY ALIVE--which was an enterprise, a long poem--none of
my books has been, while the poems were being written, thought of in
that way, "I am writing a book. " And people kept on saying to me, "Are
you working on your new book?" And I say, "Well, not exactly. I
suppose eventually they'll be in a book, but I'm not writing a book."
Some people look on that differently. One can see from the nature of
some books that that is so, but I don't work that way, with that one
exception of TO STAY ALIVE."
I think that may be a reason for many of the differences in reading TWL.
It is clear that, by 1921, he was composing a long poem--and he had
thought of it that way since at least 1919. But much of it was written
long before and in separate bits. Pound seems to have pulled the "book"
out of the many poems to their mutual satisfaction, but it did not get
written that way except, arguably, for section V.
If you are interested in the Levertov account, it is in Jewel Brooker's
edition of CONVERSATIONS WITH DENISE LEVERTOV (U Mississippi P,1998).
It is actually an interview on her late Christian poems and how they
connect with feminism, but she also talks a lot about how she writes.
>>> [log in to unmask] 02/21/04 10:10 AM >>>
Carrol Cox wrote:
>It was around 1912 or so I believe that Pound pointed out in a letter
>a review or something (this is not my field of specialization, which is
>Milton & Pope, and I haven't tried to remember or research anything
>systematically) that Yeats wrote books not collections of disparate
>poems. (I hope I've got my dates right, because any date later than
>fucks up my argument here.) That is, by 1915 Pound definitely had in
>head the idea of a book of poems which, though separately written,
>nevertheless constituted a _book_, not merely a collection. I've got an
Why does it matter to your argument (that _Lustra_ is conceived of
as an integrated, coherent volume) when Pound wrote on Yeats? Books of
"separately written" poems that are "not merely collections" have been
around for a long time. Pound would have known some of them, no?
Virgil's _Eclogues_, Dryden _Fables Ancient and Modern_ (though I'd put
an asterisk next to this-- Pound may not have had an edition available
to him in which the poems appear as Dryden arranged them), Housman's _ A
Shropshire Lad_, various sonnet sequences. There are medieval Japanese
court anthologies that Pound may have known or known of that are
compiled from many authors, living across many years, some of which read
as integrated books. _The Metamorphoses_ becomes a seamless song by
dint of Ovid's making it one. The material is inherently disparate.
I don't know what "separately written" poems are. Poems under
individual titles? Poems written without a thought of a whole? If
this, how can you know that poems didn't suggest other poems or that in
the writing Pound, being a single person, doesn't return to himself as a
common source for the poems. The phrase makes no sense to me.
I can feel you arguing that the few volumes I've mentioned wouldn't
have been seen by Pound as _books_. But the point is that the idea of
arranging poems to create some sort of whole was hardly new in the world
in or around 1912, so your argument needed be pinned to that date.