ABC of Reading (New Directions Paperbook)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
Ezra Pound’s classic book about the meaning of literature, with a new introduction by Michael Dirda.
This important work, first published in 1934, is a concise statement of Pound’s aesthetic theory. It is a primer for the reader who wants to maintain an active, critical mind and become increasingly sensitive to the beauty and inspiration of the world’s best literature. With characteristic vigor and iconoclasm, Pound illustrates his precepts with exhibits meticulously chosen from the classics, and the concluding “Treatise on Meter” provides an illuminating essay for anyone aspiring to read and write poetry. ABC of Reading displays Pound’s great ability to open new avenues in literature for our time.
2 From men who have not themselves taken the risk of printing the results of their own personal inspection and survey, even if they are seriously making one. 3 COMPASS, SEXTANT, OR LAND MARKS LET the student brace himself and prepare for the worst. I am coming to my list of the minimum that a man would have to read if he hoped to know what a given new book was worth. I mean as he would know whether a given pole-vault was remarkably high, or a given tennis player at all likely to play in a
not 4 mate, equal English lyric, the technique for singing already complete, no augmentation of singability from Chaucer’s days to our own. The French fourteenth-century lyric mode, common to all Europe. Idiom has changed, but no greater fitness to be sung has been attained. Not even by Shakespeare with the aid of later Italian song-books. EXHIBIT CHAUCER 1340-1400 But as I romed up and doun I fond that on a walle ther was Thus written on a table of bras: I wol now synge, gif that I can
as the web they wrought was dey’d a deep darke purple hew, Even so upon the painted grapes the selfe same colour grew. The day was spent. And now was come the tyme which neyther night Nor day, but middle bound of both a man may terme of right. The house at sodaine seemed to shake, and all about it shine With burning lampes, and glittering fires to flash before their eyen. And likenesses of ougly beastes with gastful noyses yeld. For feare whereof in smokie holes the sisters were
shrill notes from every bow. Whither runst thou, that men and women loue not? Holde in thy rosie horses that they moue not! Ere thou rise, stars teach seamen where to saile But when thou comest, they of their courses faile. Poore trauilers though tired rise at thy sight, The painful1 Hinde by thee to fild is sent, Slow oxen early in the yoke are pent, Thou cousenest boys of sleep and dost betray them To Pedants that with cruel lashes pay them. 1 Fr. cf. homme de peine, one who must work
Shepherd’s Herse, With never-fading Garlands, never- dying Verse. ….. ….. Whom has thou left behind thee, skilful Swain, That dares aspire to reach thy matchless Strain? Who is there after thee, that dares pretend Rashly to take thy warbling Pipe in hand? Thy Notes remain yet fresh in ev’ry Ear, And give us all Delight, and all Despair: Pleas’d Eccho still does on them meditate, And to the whistling Reeds their sounds repeat; Pan only e’er can equal thee in Song, That task does only to great