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The usurers of Canto XIV owe their identities to Douglas' historical analysis, but we can trace their configurations (brutish monsters, swollen foetuses) to Inferno XIV, where usurers squat "like dogs in summer that ply, now snout, now paw, when they are bitten by fleas or gnats or flies." In the end, we must acknowledge that Dante combined with Douglas in Pound's mind to make usury not just a contemporary problem but the Cantos' most important emblem of the fall of the "green world" of natural bounty. Tle Cantos condemn usura, the "obsession of wealth defined in terms of money," not just because it interferes with an artist's creation ("Came not by usura Angelico"), but because it perverts the bounty and sustenance of God's art, which is nature.


From The Genesis of Ezra Pound's Cantos. Copyright © 1976 by Princeton University Press.