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Canto 45 must be an 'adjunct to the Muses' diadem' - perhaps the clearest and most cogent statement of principle in the poem. Its Old Testament litany of the effects of usury on natural life is full of torrential moral indignation, a passion which remains, in spite of reservations, deeply impressive. I once heard Christopher Logue reading the Canto to a respectful Albert Hall poetry 'happening' in 1965, substituting 'Ursula' for 'Usura' throughout; even this portent has not dented the poem. It is curious nevertheless to see an accepted masterwork of modernism so utterly archaic in its diction and cadence and so entirely dogmatic and moral in intention. Its values are no less reactionary: it is a proclamation of mediaeval values which could be signed witho0ut reservation by William Morris and Pope Leo XIII, and, with a few, by Enrico Berlinguer.


From The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound. Copyright © 1979 by Michael Alexander.