Skip to main content

Even the famous Canto 45 on usura is no exception to what I have been saying about the lack of fusion between the poetry and the ideas, especially the ideas about money. We are so overwhelmed by the biblical cadences and rhetoric (the repetitions and parallel constructions) as to forget that the content will not bear investigation:


wool comes not to market 

sheep bringeth no gain with usura.

Yet modern banking coincides with unprecedented European prosperity. We are inclined to agree with Pound that at least in modem times the arts and sexuality have suffered:

Usura rusteth the chisel 

It rusteth the craft and the craftsman 

. . . . . . . . . . . . 

Usura slayeth the child in the womb 

It stayeth the young man's courting 

It hath brought palsey to bed, lyeth 

between the young bride and her bridegroom 

                                        CONTRA NATURAM.

Yet population increased enormously during the nineteenth century, and while the handicrafts declined, literature, music, painting, philosophy and science flourished. Ruskin railed against much the same social symptoms, but attributed them to an unprecedented complex of causes brought on by the Industrial Revolution and not to a single cause recurring throughout the past. Ruskin and Pound, like all romantic thinkers, like Eliot. too, in his social thought, longed nostalgically for the organic society of the past.


From "Pound and Eliot." in Ezra Pound Among the Poets. Ed. George Bornstein. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985. Copyright © 1985 by University of Chicago Press.