clive james considers reconsidering


In recent times I have gone back to Pound’s Cantos to find out if I was correct in so thoroughly getting over my initial enthusiasm for them, or it. (Whether the Cantos is, or are, a singular or a plural, is a question that I believe answers itself eventually, but only in the way that a heap of rubble gradually becomes part of the landscape.) Fifty years ago, when the mad old amateur fascist was still alive and fulminating, I fell for the idea of his panscopic grab bag the way that I was then apt to fall for the idea of love. As that sweet-if-weird moment in that sad-if-stilted passage in the Pisan Cantos has it: “What thou lovest well remains,/The rest is dross.” I especially liked the sound of that at a time when my knowledge of eternity was nineteen years long.

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