Clearly Eliot produced the materials and made the choices to accept
Pound, but I don't see how you can call what Pound did "rudimentary."
For example, he red-lined out the whole first opening of "The Fire
Sermon" and that stayed out. He cut a lot of the especially crude bits
about the "young man carbuncular," and that stayed out. He did the same
with the long initial section of "Death by Water." He advised Eliot to
cut all the small later bits and to leave out Conrad. And all that
advice was taken. And he commented on many words and phrases that were
then altered. As editing, that is very thorough and significant in its
effect, not at all rudimentary in amount or impact. I'm not sure there
is any evidence about exactly what the "final ordering" was before Eliot
and Pound went through it together, but all those cuts and changes
certainly made that different as well. Eliot, for example, considered
omitting "Death by Water" altogether and on Pound's advice left it in.
It was a collaboration in any case, and there is no reason to defend
Eliot's claim to being the author: he was the one who credited Pound
Pound did take some greater credit also:
If you must needs inquire
Know diligent Reader
That on each Occasion
Ezra performed the ceasarian Operation.
Since this collaboration is a fascinating event in modernism and
produced the quintessential modernist poem, and since they both were
involved and took pride in their parts--Eliot's being the actual writing
of the texts--I am unclear what reason there is to diminish Pound's
>>> Richard Seddon <[log in to unmask]> 06/05/07 11:41 PM >>>
I do not agree that Pound was the "primary writer" or that he extracted
poem from a "mass of material". At most Pound was an advisor and
a rudimentary way an editor. He had filled this role many times with
of the modernists as he recruited their work for American poetry
The original and final art was TSE's. The final organization was TSE's.
final editing was TSE's. The final decisions were all TSE's. Pound, not
reticent type and certainly not humble, never assumed any greater role
that of friend and advisor. An argument can be made that the impetus for
"The Cantos", what got Pound out of his dithering and thinking, was
over what TSE had produced in TWL.
I think that Pound's greatest contribution to TSE's art was the oft
overlooked recommendation that "Gerontion" be left out of TWL. Again
"Gerontion" was TSE's art and the decision to publish it by its self his
alone. Pound treated "Gerontion" much like he treated the ocean scene in
TWL manuscripts; as extraneous. TSE apparently did not accord the ocean
scene the same approval he did "Gerontion".
Pound, though never a "minimalist", always preached the use of the
but most meaning filled words available. He applied the same skills to
own poems such as "In a Station of the Metro".