'I have beaten out my exile.' The Perception of Ezra Pound Poetry in Russia

 CoverThe Cantos of Ezra Pound. Translated by Andrei Bronnikov

Ian Probstein.

Editor of the Personae-The Cantos project

Andrei Bronnikov. Letter to MIN Readers.

Letter to the translator by Andrey Tavrov








by Ian Probstein


Without knowing that he was referring to the first translator of his poetry into Russian, Pound wrote in “Vorticism” (1914): “A Russian correspondent, after having called it [Pound’s poem “Heather”] a symbolist poem, and having been convinced that it was not symbolism, said slowly: ‘I see, you wish to give people new eyes, not to make them see some new particular thing’” (GB 85). The correspondent was Zinaida Vengerova (1867-1941), who happened to be the sister of Osip Mandelstam’s professor at St. Petersburg University, Semyon Vengerov (1855-1920).1

Z Vengerova Brockhaus and Efron Encyclopedic Dictionary B82 22 4She was the first translator of Pound and other poets from Des Imagistes into Russian. Vengerova published her essay in Strelets (Sagittarius) in 1915 and called it “The English Futurists.”2 In addition to Russian, Vengerova published in several European languages and contributed a chapter on Russian literature and aesthetics to The Philosophy of the Beautiful edited by William Angus Knight (1836–1916), a professor of philosophy at the University of St. Andrews. Knight wrote an acknowledgment to her in the “Preface” to the second volume (Knight vii).3

In her essay, Vengerova pointed out ironically that among the “blasted” things was fish oil and among the blessed – castor oil. Most importantly, she was convinced that the manner and even the fonts were somehow borrowed from Marinetti’s aggressive manifestos. Judging by the poems of Pound and other imagists, she concluded that they did not yet practice what they preached and found many similarities between Pound’s and Swinburne’s poems. Vengerova seemed to have studied Pound’s work, praised The Spirit of Romance and some poems from his earlier collections, and argued that his poetry was full of literary allusions, not only to Swinburne and Tennyson, but also to classical poetry. Quoting the titles “Doria,” “Phasellus Ille,” “Quies,” and the like, Vengerova argued, “The theoretician — the most ill–doomed thing in poetry – rushed forward, but his poetry remained on the same plane, only occasionally forced and adjusted to his fabricated theory” (“English Futurists,” Probstein, ed. 2003: 846). Very much like Eunice Tietjens cited by Marjorie Perloff (FM 167-68), Vengerova rejected “Monumentum Aere” but praised “The Garret,” which she read in Poetry, especially the lines “Dawn enters with little feet/ like a gilded Pavlova,” stating that the poem “is marked with fresh and genuine vision of the poet: the beauty of the world, consciously revealed by him, in which he participates with all his individuality, becomes for him the criterion of perception of the outward world” (846). In her opinion, whenever Pound “tries to be modern and daring as in “Monumentum Aere,” he loses style and grace” (847). She called Pound an “anglicized American,” and was absolutely wrong. If she had continued to follow Pound’s and his friends’ evolution, she would probably have applied this term to T. S. Eliot. Later in this essay, I shall argue that Pound’s and W. C. Williams’s works have impacted the development of American poetry in the 20th century and this influence is still felt, whereas T. S. Eliot’s poetry, in my view, has been more influential in Britain, especially with such poets as W. H. Auden, Stephen Spender, Louis MacNeice, and to some extent, Ted Hughes. However, they were all, so to speak, strong poets and eventually overcame “the anxiety of influence.”4

Nevertheless, it was probably due to Vengerova’s essay that imagism became known in Russia, and it is not unlikely that it impacted the Russian Imaginist movement, with its series of manifestos, the first of which came out in 1919. It proclaimed the death of Futurism, the rebirth of the image and the formation of the new movement Imaginism. It was signed by the poets Sergey Esenin (1895-1925), Riurik Ivnev (1891-1981), Anatoly Mariengof (1897-1962), Vadim Shershenevich (1893-1942), and painters Boris Erdman and Grigory Yakulov. Most probably, it was written by Vadim Shershenevich, the most educated of them, who read in several languages, including English.

N.Gumilev by O.Della Vos Kardovskaya 1909 Tretyakov galleryThe next connection between Pound’s circle and the Russian poets was established during the June 1917 visit to London of the prominent Russian poet and founder of Acmeism, Nikolay Stepanovich Gumilyov (1886-1921), an outstanding Russian poet, critic, and translator, and one of the founders of the Guild of Poets, to which Osip Mandelstam also belonged.

In London, Gumilyov resumed friendship with his old acquaintance Carl Eric Bechhofer Roberts (1894–1949), whom he had first met in St. Petersburg’s famous literary café “A Stray Dog” [Brodyachaia Sobaka] in December 1914. Bechhofer invited Gumilyov to stay at his house, introduced him to his numerous literary friends and acquaintances, and later published an interview with him in The New Age. During his two–week stay in London, Gumilyov met with W. B. Yeats, G. K. Chesterton, and John Cournos; on June 16–17, he visited Lady Ottoline Morrell and her circle, where he also met D. H. Lawrence, Aldous Huxley, Bertrand Russell, Virginia Woolf, and many others. However, there is no documented evidence that Gumilyov met Ezra Pound, although he had heard of him from so many people.  In addition, it should be pointed out that Nikolay Gumilyov, like Pound, was attracted to Homer, Dante, and Guido Cavalcanti – the last was the hero of Gumilyov’s novella The Joys of Earthly Love [Radosti zemnoi liyubvi].5 Like Pound, Gumilyov was fascinated by the poetry of Théophile Gautier and published both adaptations and translations of the French poet. Furthermore, Gumilyov was captivated by Africa, where he travelled extensively in 1909–1913, visiting several countries from Egypt to Ethiopia. He wrote about these travels in his poems, plays, short stories, and diaries. It is notable that Gumilyov wrote both about the Princess Zara, Zotar (akin to Pound’s “Zothar” of Cantos XVII and XX) and Hanno the Seafarer, the hero of Pound’s Canto XLFinally, like Pound, Gumilyov was attracted to China and in July 1918 published a book of poems, Porcelain Pavilion [Farforovyi Pavilion], in which he included his adaptations and imitations of Chinese poems from Li Po, Liu Che, and others, inspired by Judith Gautier’s Le Livre de Jade (1867).

Gumilyov took several anthologies of contemporary English poetry first to France and eventually to Russia, where he would become a member of the editorial board the of World Literature project supported by Maxim Gorky (1868–1936), an “icon” of the Soviet Literature at that time. It is notable that in Paris, where he stayed from July 1917 to January 1918, Gumilyov first worked in the office of General Zankevich, the military representative of the Russian Provisional Government in France, and later became the communications officer of the newly appointed Military Commissar of the Russian Expeditionary Corps in France E. I. Rapp. After the Corps was finally disbanded on January 16, 1918, he was sent to London, where he worked in the office of the Russian Government Committee. On April 3, 1918, however, he sailed from London to Murmansk, Russia. On returning to Petrograd at the end of April 1918, he was involved in literary activities and later became a member of the editorial board and the head of the French division of the World Literature project. During this productive period, Gumilyov also translated Gilgamesh into Russian and published several of his own books of poems. However, in 1921, Gumilyov would be falsely accused of high treason, and he, the hero of WWI, twice decorated with the highest Russian military order of St. George Cross, would be shot by the Cheka near St. Petersburg.6

rsz mandelstam chukovsky livshits annenkov 1914 karl bulla with smileI have already published on the striking affinities between Ezra Pound’s and Osip Mandelstam’s views on nature, reality, and language in my River of Time. In brief, both poets emphasized the importance of image and music in poetry; both wrote about “the three voices of poetry”; both were concerned with the renewal of literature, especially of poetic language, and both considered Futurism a narrow-minded, artificial escape from the past. In “The Morning of Acmeism,” Mandelstam wrote:

For the Acmeists, the conscious sense of the word, Logos, is just as magnificent a form as music is for the Symbolists. And if, for the Futurists, the word as such is still down on its knees creeping, in Acmeism it has for the first time assumed a dignified upright position and entered the Stone Age of its existence (CPL 62).

Pound would be the last modernist to deify the logos, since he expressed the same idea in an aphoristic form: “Great Literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree” (ABCR 36). Both Pound in his essay of 1914 and Mandelstam in “The Morning of Acmeism” (1912) compare poetry to mathematics. Mandelstam puts it thus:

The sight of a mathematician who produces without effort the square of some ten-digit phenomenon to the tenth power, and the modest appearance of a work of art frequently deceives us with respect to the monstrously condensed reality which it possesses. (CPL 61 [emphasis added])

Pound in “Vorticism” attacked Symbolism in a very similar fashion:

The symbolists dealt in “association,” that is, in a sort of allusion, almost an allegory. They degraded the symbol to the status of a word. They made it a form of metonymy. One can be grossly “symbolic,” for example, by using the term “cross” to mean “trial.” The symbolist’s symbols have a fixed value, like numbers in arithmetic like 1, 2, and 7. The imagiste’s images have a variable significance, like the signs a, b, and x in algebra. (GB 84)

Both Pound and Mandelstam use a scientific approach to nature and are consistently faithful to it. In the ABC of Reading and in The Cantos, Pound writes about the Swiss-American biologist Louis Agassiz (1807-1873). In Drafts and Fragments, he mentions the Swedish scientist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) who created the Systema Naturae [The System of Nature, the title of his book of 1735], a system for classifying animals, plants, and minerals. Likewise, Mandelstam wrote about the theory of evolution both in his poetry and prose. In his essay, “To the Problem of the Scientific Style of Darwin” (1932), Mandelstam linked Darwin’s theory of evolution with the discoveries of Linnaeus and Lamarck. This essay can be viewed as an outline of his poems “Lamarck”: “It’s not I, not you – it’s they/ Who have the entire power of the gender (ancestral) endings” (Mandelstam 1990: 222) and the “Monasteries of snails and shells” from Octaves (Mandelstam 1990: 201).

Mandelstam’s later poems have many similarities with Pound’s Pisan Cantos. Written in exile in Voronezh, Mandelstam’s late work reveals his anxiety and his desire to overcome loneliness and separation from life in three major ways. As Mikhail Leonovich Gasparov observed, Mandelstam considered himself a member of the fourth estate, and unlike Marina Tsvetaeva, not initially proud of being an outcast. Hence, his first way to overcome separation and exile was by seeking forgiveness and attempting repentance in the so-called "Ode to Stalin,” “Stanzas” (“The heart needs to beat”) and the like. The second way Mandelstam tried to overcome the loneliness of exile was by expressing his thirst for life and his acute feeling and vision of life itself. In addition to “Lamarck’s flexible scale” and the poems of this cycle mentioned above, there is one particular poem reminiscent of Pound’s Pisan sequence, especially Canto LXXXIII:


And brother Wasp is building a very neat house

Of four rooms, one shaped like a squat indian bottle (LXXXIII/532)



                      Armed with the vision of narrow wasps

Sucking the axis of the earth, the axis of the earth,

I feel all that I have had to watch

And recollect by heart and in vain.




Oh, if only an air’s barb and summer warmth

Could have made me —

Passing sleep and death —

Hear the axis of the earth, the axis of the earth.

(1937, Mandelstam 1990: 239–240; Probstein 2004: 64–69)

In addition to the literal affinities with Pound (“the barb of air” and “the barb of time”), the image of the wasp in Mandelstam’s case is also an allusion to his – and Stalin’s – first name: Iosif-Osip-Osia; the word “wasp” in Russian is “osa.” In the genitive plural, it is “os,” while the word denoting earth’s axis is a soft and palatalized “os’,” almost a homophone. As Taranovski observed, there is a hidden allusion here to the lines of the slightly earlier "Ode to Stalin”: “I would say who moved the axis of the earth, / honouring the tradition of hundred forty nations” (Taranovski 113). Thus, Mandelstam implies all the meanings mentioned above and rhymes them, expressing his anxiety and thirst for life. The poet both begs and rebels:

Let go, Voronezh, raven-town,

Let me be, don’t let me down,

You’ll drop me, crop me, won’t revive,

Voronezh — whim, Voronezh — raven, knife.

(April 1935; Mandelstam 1990: 212)

A month later, Mandelstam wrote:

Having deprived me of seas, flight, space,

You gave me instead a foothold of a forcible land,

What have you gained? A brilliant end:

You couldn’t have taken moving lips away.

(May 1935, Mandelstam 1990: 216)

Similarly, Pound in a Pisan camp vacillated between humility (“Pull down thy vanity”), despair (“caged: “Nothing, nothing that you can do”), and desire for life:

When the mind swings by a grass blade

an ant’s forefoot shall save you

the clover leaf smells and tastes as its flower (LXXXIII/533)

rsz nkvd mandelstam 1938Both Pound in the “gorilla cage” and Mandelstam in the Voronezh exile, which he, alluding to The Book of Daniel, perceived as “a lion’s den” – “I’ve been submerged in a lion’s den and a fortress” [Ya v l’vinyi rov i v krepost’ pogruzhyon] – are longing for life and the thought of an earthly paradise. Pound exclaims: “Will I ever see the Giudecca again?” Likewise, Mandelstam appeals to France: “I beg as compassion and grace,/ Your earth and your honeysuckle, France.” In this poem, the Russian poet asserts that “a violet is still a violet in a prison cell.”

The third way Mandelstam attempts to overcome his forceful separation from life is through his “nostalgia for world culture,” his search for the harmony of France, Italy, the Mediterranean and “the blessed islands.” Here again, there is affinity between Mandelstam and Pound in the admiration of both poets for François Villon. Mandelstam writes:

Spitting at the spider’s rights,

An impudent scholar, a stealing angel,

Played tough tricks near Gothic sites.

Unrivaled Villon François.

He is a heavenly robber,

It is not shameful to sit near him:

Before the very end of the world

Skylarks will still ring and warble.  

(1937, Mandelstam 1990: 251)

Like Pound in “Montcorbier, Alias Villon,” Mandelstam in his essay on Villon emphasizes Villon’s medievalism, his ability to combine both plaintiff and defendant within his own persona, his self-centeredness and self-pity. Most importantly, Mandelstam wrote of Villon’s desire for reality, his denial of abstract notions and his ability to combine gaunt reality with a vision of the divine. Similarly, Pound stated that Villon “is utterly mediæval, yet his poems mark the end of mediæval literature […] he recognizes the irrevocable, he blames no one but himself” (SR 170–171) […] and “his poems are gaunt as the Poema del Cid is gaunt; they treat of actualities, they are untainted with fancy; in the Cid death is death, war is war. In Villon filth is filth, crime is crime; neither crime nor filth is gilded” (SR 172–173).

Like Pound, Mandelstam feels sympathy for “the heavenly robber,” finally associating himself with outcasts and exiles like Ovid, Dante, and Villon. Such poems as “On the stony spurs of Pieria” (1919) and especially, “Thalassa and thanatos of Grecian flutes” (1937) reveal Mandelstam’s nostalgia for a natural life in an unnatural totalitarian state.

Both Pound and Mandelstam were concerned with cultural and spiritual renewal. One of the main sources of the renewal they sought was the birthplace of civilization: Hellas, the Mediterranean, and Medievalism. Unlike Yeats, neither Mandelstam nor Pound ever attempted to escape reality and the present. Nor did they seek “the artifice of eternity.” Neither of them saw a contradiction between nature, reality and eternity, and each was trying to create his “earthly paradise” in his own way. Both had a similar attitude toward nature “as a system of powers immanent in organic life forms and even in inorganic matter,” human nature, nature as “a play of physical and chemical processes” (Hatlen  163); both felt the pull of the natural sciences and scientific language. Both sought ways to overcome Symbolism and Futurism, and had the same approach to mimesis. Although they never read a line of each other’s writing, the affinities between Mandelstam and Pound were due to the overlapping of their sources — Hellenism, High Antiquity, Medievalism, Dante, and Villon.

Mikhail ZenkevichIt would be another Acmeist poet and the member of the Guild of Poets, Mikhail Alexandrovich Zenkevich (1886-1973), who would become a prolific translator and the first real translator of Ezra Pound’s poems in Russian. It was in the 1930s when Zenkevich first started translating Pound’s poems from Lustra: “The Garden,” “A Pact,” “The Rest,” the first five parts from “Moeurs Contemporaines,” and a fragment, “These Fought” from Hugh Selwyn Mauberley. He also drafted an essay on Pound for the Anthology of New English poetry [Antologiya Novoy angliyskoy poezii], compiled and edited by Prince Dmitry Svyatopolk-Mirsky (1890–1939), the author of the seminal A History of Russian Literature: From Its Beginnings to 1900, and a prominent scholar who became a professor at the London University before he founded the so-called Eurasian Movement and joined the English Communist Party. Mirsky returned to the Soviet Union only to be later accused of spying – he perished in the Gulag. By the time The Anthology of New English Poetry went to print (1937), Dmitry Svyatopolk-Mirsky had been already arrested and in June 1939, he died in the Magadan camp. This is why the book was edited and signed into print by Mikhail Naumovich Gutner (1912–1942), a scholar, translator, and ssociate professor at the University of Leningrad, who, while being evacuated from the city under the Nazi siege during WWII, died from starvation in Perm. T. S. Eliot’s poems and a long fragment from The Waste Land were also included in the anthology, but before it went to print, Pound had become a staunch supporter of Mussolini and his poems were excluded from the book. It was only in 1994 that Mikhail Zenkevich’s translations were finally published in Russia.7 His grandson, Sergei Zenkevich, published an essay summarizing his grandfather’s achievements, emphasizing that Mikhail Zenkevich was the first poet and professional translator who seriously read and interpreted Ezra Pound’s poems. His essay was entitled “I weathered the storm” (or rather, if we translate it back from Russian into English, it would read: “I have sensed the storm,” and the last line would read: “I have chosen exile,” not “I have beaten out my exile.”)

220px Vernon DukeIt is notable that quite independently from his Soviet counterparts, a prominent composer, Vernon Duke (1903–1969), who also wrote under his real name, Vladimir Dukelsky, was also among the first translators of Pound’s poems; he translated “A Girl” from Ripostes. Dukelsky had published four books of his own poetry in Russian; while in Paris, he and the poet and prose writer Boris Poplavsky founded a Workshop of Poets [Tsekh Poetov]: the title was borrowed from another such workshop, founded by Nikolai Gumilyov. Dukelsky also translated poetry by Robert Frost, W. C. Williams, Randall Jarrell, Ogden Nash, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti.

Ivan Elagin 19181987Another Russian immigrant, Ivan Еlagin (1918-1987), a prominent poet and translator, who was also professor of Russian at the University of Pittsburgh and Middlebury College, translated Pound’s “The Lake Isle” from Lustra, which will also be included in the forthcoming edition of Personae I am currently editing.

However, the first official publication of the translation of Ezra Pound’s Poems into Russian came out only in 1982 in the anthology Poetry of the USA [Poeziia seshea], compiled and edited by the prominent scholar of American literature Alexei Matveyevich Zverev (1939-2003). The anthology embraced American poetry from Ann Bradstreet to Sylvia Plath, the Beat Generation and the Black Mountain Poets. Ezra Pound’s “Portrait d’une femme” translated by Andrei Sergeyev (1933-1998), “New York” in the version of Victor Toporov (1946-2013), and the first part of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley translated by Alexei Parin (1944-) were published in this anthology.

At the same time, Cathay, translated by Andrey Kistyakowsky (1936-1987), was published in a scholarly journal. Kistyakowsky was a translator, but also a dissident and human rights activist, chairman of the underground Alexander Solzhenitsyn Foundation, aimed at assisting political prisoners. The translation was published in Vostok–Zapad, the famous Almanac of the Russian Academy of Sciences, which was accompanied by the article “Chinese Improvisations of 220px MaliavinEzra Pound” by the outstanding Sinologist Vladimir Malyavin (currently a professor at Taiwan University), who also commented on the translation of the poems.8 Malyavin criticized the inconsistencies of Fenollosa’s understanding of the ideogram, but concluded that in Pound’s imitations or adaptations of Chinese poems, what was wrong linguistically turned into poetic gain; his assessment was very similar to T. S. Eliot’s evaluation of Pound’s work in the introduction to his own edition of the Selected Poems of Ezra Pound. Paradoxically, a bilingual anthology of American Verse in Russian Translation 19th–20th Centuries (1983) from Poe to Sylvia Plath, Allen Ginsberg, Denise Levertov, and James Dickey, did include poems by W. C. Williams, Marianne Moore and T. S. Eliot, but not a single one by Ezra Pound. It was compiled and edited by Dr. Stanislav B. Dghimbinov (1938-2016), Professor at the Literaturny Institute [Institute of Creative Writing] who was considered one of the leading specialists on American literature in the former USSR and the Russian Federation.

FreidkinYet, the real breakthrough was Mark Freidkin’s (1953-2014) 1000–line book of 1992 called Selected Poems of Ezra Pound, which he compiled, edited and published in the independent publishing house Carte Blanche, which he established and maintained until the end of the 1990s. An outstanding translator himself, he contributed the translation of some of the finest Pound poems, in particular “A Villenaud for This Yule,” “Cino,” “To Guido Cavalcanti,” and other poems from A Lume Spento to Lustra. He also invited contributions from other prominent poets and translators. Freidkin included outstanding translations of “De Aegypto,” “Sestina: Altaforte,” and other poems from Exultations, Canzoni, and Ripostes by Olga Sedakova, a prestigious Russian poet, scholar, and translator; the first part of Hugh Selwyn Mauberley and “Moeurs Contemporaines” were translated by the well–known poet and translator Ilya Kutik, currently professor of Russian at Northwestern University; several poems from Lustra (1916) were translated by Igor Bolychev, a poet, translator, and associate professor of Moscow Institute of Creative Writing [Literaturnyi institute], and fragments from “Homage to Sextus Propertius” were translated by a prominent scholar and member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Mikhail Leonovich Gasparov (1935-2005).

KetiFrom that time on, poems by Ezra Pound have been regularly included in anthologies and published in periodicals. The Russian scholar, poet, and translator Keti Chukhrukhidze (who is also using the last name Chukhrov) defended her dissertation on Pound’s work at the Moscow State University and later published two books: Guide to Kulchur, Selected Essays by Ezra Pound and her dissertation reworked into a book, Pound and £, Utopian Models of the 20th Century. Another dissertation, “Literary and Critical Theory of Ezra Pound in the 1910s: Its Sources and the Process of Formation” was defended in 2000 at the University of Saint Petersburg by Sergey A. Petrov.

kucherThe first three Cantos were translated by the St. Petersburg poet Vladimir Kucheryavkin and published in the summer 1995 issue of the independent literary magazine Mitin Zhurnal [Mitya’s Journal] edited by Dmitry Volchek. It was a very good poetic translation and will be included in my forthcoming edition of Personae – The Cantos, most probably in the addendum, since the overall preference of the publisher and editor is given to previously unpublished work. In 1995, a special issue of the magazine Literaturnoye obozreniye [Literary review] then edited by the poet Victor Kullé, was dedicated to Ezra Pound. It included the translation of T. S. Eliot’s introduction to the 1928 Selected Poems of Ezra Pound, a selection of poems translated by Olga Sedakova, an essay by Anton Nesterov “‘I have tried to write paradise’,” several of Pound’s essays, notably “Vorticism,” “Troubadours, Their Sorts and Conditions,” translated by Anton Nesterov, and “T. S. Eliot,” translated by A. Sinodov. It was an important landmark, since the magazine was widely read. Unfortunately, by the 2000s, the magazine folded, most probably due to the lack of resources and the inability of its editor to receive grants. From 1998 to 2003, several Cantos were published in the magazine Kontekst [Context]. The magazine started with the first seven, but later included a few Middle Cantos, notably the “Usura” Canto 45, and the “Seven Lakes” Canto 49, in Boris Avdeyev’s version. It is a solid work. Boris Avdeyev published some scholarly articles before embarking on his translations and dedicated his efforts to translating Ezra Pound only. He is a dedicated translator and interpreter of Pound’s Cantos, but sometimes his Russian is either neutral or full of clichés. His best translations were selected for the forthcoming edition of The Cantos that I am editing and I asked him to translate several more cantos. In 2001, Anatoly Kudriavitsky (b. 1952, currently resides in Dublin, Ireland) compiled and edited an extended edition of Des Imagistes that included a huge selection of Ezra Pound’s poems, starting with “The Tree” and “De Aegypto” from A Lume Spento, “Sestina: Altaforte” as well as “Sestina to Ysolt,” “Planh for the Young English King” and other poems from Exultations in excellent translations by Olga Sedakova. Kudriavitsky himself translated several poems by Ezra Pound and included translations of Mikhail Zenkevich, Alexei Parin, Mark Freidkin, Alexei Prokopyev, many of which were published either in the 1982 Anthology compiled by Alexei Zverev mentioned above, or in Mark Freidkin’s book. In addition, Kudriavitsky also found some translations of Pound’s poems by Vladimir Rogov, a prominent translator, and included Canto I in the version of the contemporary poet Alexei Tsvetkov. It is significant that in addition to H. D., Richard Aldington, F. S. Flint, T. E. Hulme, F. M. Ford, John G. Fletcher, D. H. Lawrence, Herbert Read, W. C. Williams, the editor also included poems by Amy Lowell, and in addendum, some poets he considered close to Imagism such as James Joyce, Carl Sandburg, and Adelaide Crapsey; (why not include Marianne Moore then?). The book also included several essays by Pound, notably “A Few Don’ts by an Imagiste,” “Vorticism,” “A Retrospect,” “How to Read,” and “Verse Libre and Arnold Dolmetsch,” as well as “Romanticism and Classicism” by Hulme, and Flint’s “Imagisme” in Sergey Neshcheretov’s translation (pen name of Mikhail Zenkevich’s grandson). Although the selection of the poets and even some of the poems of Ezra Pound, strictly speaking, did not belong to Imagism, or to Pound’s Imagist period, the translations were mostly professional and some of them excellent; those were later included in my edition of Ezra Pound Poems and Selected Cantos, with a contribution by Mark Freidkin (2003).

MikushevichThese translations will be also included in the forthcoming edition of Personae and The Cantos that I am currently editing. In addition to all the translators and poets mentioned above, I invited the prominent translator Vladimir Mikushevich (b. 1936), who not only translated Pound’s poems, but also contributed translations of the troubadours, Villon, Cavalcanti, Leopardi, Voltaire, and many others, as Mikushevich is an expert in both old French and Provençal, in addition to major European languages.

Ezra Pound Poems and Selected Cantos a book that was supposed to be called Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound,  was an instant success, was sold out, and was included in the top five books of 2003 by the major literary review journals in Russia. I believe it owed its success to the many outstanding poets and translators mentioned above, as I was lucky to get them interested and engage them in the project. Personae and Selected Cantos were supposed to be included in the second volume, which was never published due to financial problems of the publisher (Vladimir Dahl).

In 2005, Keti Chkhrukidze (Chukhrov) compiled and edited a selection of poems by Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot called Journey of the Magi [Pokloneniye volkhvov], which included some earlier poems of 1908–1910, selections from Ripostes, Lustra, Cathay, and even about half a dozen of cantos translated by Lev Gunin and K. S. Faray. “Near Perigord” was translated by Alexander Petrov, while “The Seafarer” and “The Lyric of Ancient Egypt” were translated by Chkhrukidze herself, who experimented with the rhythm and alliteration. Those were mostly new names and new translations, but the tendency of Lev Gunin, for instance, was to use elevated and abstract vocabulary and almost regular meter at times, as in “Villanelle: Psychological Hour” (for some reason placed in the first part of Lustra; the second part, instead of 1915–1916, was marked as 1915). Most of those translations were done exactly “in the sequence of a metronome” (LE 3).

The evolution of Pound’s approach to rhythm was convincingly illustrated by Marjorie Perloff in The Futurist Moment, especially on pp. 166–188, in which she analyzed certain patterns from earlier poems, such as “Piccadilly” (not included in his 1926 Personae, as she keenly observed), “Provincia Deserta (1915), and others, through some extremes in the Blast poems and Lustra (1916) and some setbacks in his early Cantos of 1917, in which he failed “to break the pentameter,” finally resulted in a particular combination of prose and verse (FM 171), thus achieving a poetic work. However, in translation it is extremely difficult not to slip back into prose, and some even accurate translations unfortunately demonstrate it. Quoting Eliot’s 1917 essay in New Statesman, Pound reaffirmed that “No vers is libre for the man who wants to do a good job” (LE 12).

As for the image, Pound stated himself long ago:

An image, in our sense, is real because we know it directly. If it have an age-old traditional meaning this may serve as proof to the professional student of symbology that we have stood in the deathless light, or that we have walked in some particular arbour of his traditional paradiso, but that is not our affair. It is our affair to render the image as we have perceived or conceived it. (GB 99)

220px GasparovSince 2003, Pound’s cantos have been translated and commented (some of them were done in the 1990s, as described above). In 2003, A Draft of XVI Cantos with selections out of A Draft of XXX Cantos as well as some Pisan Cantos were supposed to be included in the second volume of Ezra Pound. Poems and Selected Cantos, but the publisher probably ran out of money and did not fulfil the contract. The entire project was conceived in the end of the 1999 as a two-volume edition of the 2003 book and the complete Cantos was translated by 2010 with the help of Boris Meshsheryakov, knowledgeable in Chinese, and Alexander Markov, a classical scholar. Markov started in 2000 by commenting on M. L. Gasparov’s translation of Homage to Sextus Propertius, and later translated several Cantos alluding to Homer’s Odysseus, for instance, Canto XXXIX. The commentary of the forthcoming edition of Personae–The Cantos itself comprises more than 100 pages and summarizes all the major achievements in Pound scholarship, including, but not limited to, Barbara Eastman’s textual work, seminal books by Hugh Kenner, Guy Davenport, Peter Makin, Ronald Bush, Peter Nicholls, Christine Froula, Humphrey Carpenter’s Serious Character and David Moody’s invaluable 3-volume literary biography of Ezra Pound. I am especially grateful to The Cantos Project of Roxana Preda, and to Massimo Bacigalupo, who helped me comment on the most difficult places in The Cantos and correct some of the inconsistencies in the otherwise invaluable Companion to The Cantos of Ezra Pound by Carroll Terrell. It should be also noted that the Russian Cantos Project involves outstanding scholars and translators specializing in various fields: Olga Sedakova, aolga sedakova stor prominent authority on Dante, and Vladimir Mikushevich, an expert on Medieval and Renaissance literature, especially German and French,9 commented on the poems they translated. I invited contributions from Boris Meshcheryakov, the translator of The Poems of the Tang Era into Russian, who did not only translate the Chinese History Cantos, as well as the others that involve the knowledge of Chinese, but also commented on them. I also invited the classical scholars Irina Kovalyova (1961-2007), who was an associate professor of Greek and Latin at the Moscow State University, and Alexander Markov, currently professor at the Russian State University for the Humanities, who contributed to the commentaries and translated some of the cantos that involve a thorough knowledge of the classical languages as well as classical, medieval, and Renaissance scholarship. The inclinations and approaches of the above-mentioned translators differ: while Sedakova and Mikushevich mostly translate Pound’s poems dealing with classical antiquity, Medievalism, Provençal poetry, Dante, and Villon, impeccably rendering the forms of sestinas and canzoni, some others tend to translate poems from Lustra (1916) and later poems experimenting with rhythm, vocabulary, and images. It is not only the ideas that one has to consider, but the language itself. Thus in my translation of “The Seafarer,” I use archaic Russian, in Canto XXX, employ an older version of the pre-Pushkin language, while in other pieces, alongside like-minded people, I am using modern slang.

In 2012, Maya Kononenko brought out her translation of Cantos I, III, IV, V, and in 2014, she also published her translation of “Near Perigord.” She has a peculiar approach to rhythm and sound, which I would call phonological, and her translations have a distinctive flavor of “sprung rhythm,” resembling at times that of Gerard Manley Hopkins. Nevertheless, I offered Maya Kononenko the inclusion of her translations in the addendum.

rsz cantosPound’s popularity in Russia reached a peak in December 2016 when the opera Pound’s Cantos (an opera-mystery, with an implied subtitle “M’amour, m’amour”) for a 24-voice choir, orchestra, solo soprano and solo violin, was staged in the progressive Perm State Opera and Ballet Theatre named after P. I. Tchaikovsky. The opera was written by the young Moscow composer Alexei Siumak (1976-), who was also one of the authors of the libretto. It was conducted by Theodor Currentzis  (1972-), a Greek-Russian musician and actor who is now in great demand in European opera theatres. The director was Semyon Aleksandrovsky (1982-) from St. Petersburg.10 The composer presented Pound as a Romantic who, in spite of some “bad misconceptions,” was dedicated to love and justice and was persecuted by the U. S. government. Although the composer was fascinated by the image of the poet as it emerged from his Cantos, which he read in the original, there were some forced and even inaccurate ideas: for example, in his interview, the composer stated that Pound was effectively silenced after he was locked up in St. Elizabeths. In my view, the composer had a strange selection of texts, starting with “Coitus” from Lustra (1915), continuing with Canto III (in Vladimir Kusheryavkin’s translation, of which I wrote above), going then straight to the “M’amour, m’amour” fragment (in the playbill, in my translation) and then using some of the last Cantos “Drafts of CXVII et seq,”: “I have tried to write Paradise,” and even the Fragment from 1966 “That her Acts/ Olga’s Acts.” The poet in the opera was presented as predominantly Romantic, and the main theme is Love with the capital “L.” One of the authors of the playbill, Vyacheslav Rakov, associate professor at Perm State University, claims that Pound wanted to unite humanity with his Cantos and failed. One of the sections of his essay is subtitled “An Apology of Madness,” in which he connects Pound with Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud, and Nietzsche (Rakov 42). 

I believe that few people, even among the admirers of Pound in Russia, really understand that Pound and W. C. Williams shaped modern American poetry and poetic language, whether we consider Louis Zukofsky with his “A” sequence, or Charles Olson, who did not accept Pound's political, social, and economic ideas but admired even the energy of The Pisan Cantos typescript. Likewise, Pound’s poetry and his approach to language has impacted the contemporary American scene, including the L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Poets, such as Lyn Hejinian, Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews, and others, as well as Rachel Blau DuPlessis, whose on-going project entitled Drafts is certainly inspired by The Cantos.

brodskyBoth Pound’s admirers and opponents, among whom we count the Nobel prize winner Joseph Brodsky,11 do not base their attitudes on an aesthetic evaluation of the poetry, but on philosophical, spiritual, and political ideas. In his “Fondamenta degli incurabili,” Joseph Brodsky recollects how in 1977 he accompanied Susan Sontag on a visit to Olga Rudge. He writes that he translated some poems by Pound in his youth; however, those translations are not to be found; neither have they been included in the 7-volume edition of his Collected Works. Further, Brodsky writes that he was fascinated by Pound’s motto “make it new,” read The Cantos (although I doubt that he read them very closely), and concluded that Ezra Pound “has made a standard mistake in his Cantos : a “quest for beauty” adding that

it is strange that a man with such a long residence in Italy [meaning Ezra Pound] has not understood that beauty can never be a goal, that it is always a by-product of other, often a trivial quest. It would be worth publishing his [Pound’s] poems and speeches in one volume without any scholarly introductions and to see what would come out of it. A poet must be the first to remember that time does not know the difference between Rapallo and Lithuania. I also thought that it would have been more worthwhile to admit that one made a mess of one’s life rather than freeze in a pose of persecuted genius, who having returned to Italy, raised his hand in a fascist Roman salute and then denied that this gesture had any meaning, gave evasive interviews hoping to resemble a sage with the help of an overcoat and a staff, as a result looking like Haile Selassie” [Brodsky meant Haile Selassie Gugsa who collaborated with Italians during the war, was accused of high treason, sentenced to life and spent 30 years in prison] (Brodsky 32; my translation and note). 

I also write about The Cantos as a spiritual quest, since I assume that the central idea of the poem is a spiritual quest for time, space, and a kind of justification of history, as mentioned by many scholars, among them Bacigalupo, Dekker, Kearns, Pearlman, Wilhelm, Makin, and Witemeyer, to name a few. Kearns’s analysis of the handling of time in the Pisan Cantos can, in my opinion, be extended and applied to The Cantos in general, including Drafts and Fragments:

There are several ‘times’ running through the sequence, but we must remember that events that define these times do not appear chronologically. There are times of eternity, of myth, of history, of nature of ‘the process,’ of Pound’s own lifetime, reaching from memories of his childhood in Pennsylvania (C/81) to the present moment in the gorilla cage and to the time of the DTC (and of events reported in Time during that period), 14 July to 8 October, 1945). (Kearns 157)

Here Kearns is interpreting time precisely in the spirit of Bakhtin, who devised and applied such categories as the chronotope of reality, the chronotope of the road, the chronotope of love, etc. The unity of the chronotopes of history and culture, as well as the concept of chronotope as such, can well be considered axiomatic for Mandelstam and Pound. Both Kenner and Makin mention the transparency of the times and the effect of simultaneity in Pound’s Cantos. Pound, like Eliot and Osip Mandelstam in Russia, was seeking the point of “intersection of the timeless with time,” (T. S. Eliot “The Dry Salvages,” V/ 136). However, the search to unite time that is “out of joint” is both a dangerous quest and difficult work for the poet. “Poetry is the plough that turns up time,” Mandelstam states in “The Word and Culture” (“Slovo i kul’tura,” CPL 113). This metaphor brings to mind Pound’s Canto XLVII:

When the cranes fly high
                     think of plowing.
By this gate art thou measured
Thy day is between a door and a door
Two oxen are yoked for plowing
Or six in the hill field
White bulk under olives, a score for drawing down stone,
Here the mules are gabled with slate on the hill road.
Thus was it in time. (XLVII/237)

To be “in time” is to make the present actual and to revive the past. Both Pound in Canto XLVII and Mandelstam in “The Horseshoe Finder” allude to Hesiod. Furthermore, in “The Horseshoe Finder,” the seafarer is plowing the sea: the metaphors “soggy furrows,” “The soggy black soil of Neaira [Νέαιρα]each night plowed anew,” “The air can be as dark as water, and all creatures swim in it like fish /Whose fins thrust the sphere” — all show the relativity of the separation between land, sea, and air. Pound’s “whale-path” and the “tracks of ocean” (“The Seafarer”) are not only metaphors comparable to those mentioned above, but also reveal the similar poetic vision of the two poets who were contemporaries, yet may have never heard of each other. 

I called one of my own pieces of Pound criticism, the introduction to Canto XLVII mentioned above, “Sailing After Knowledge,” in homage to George Dekker’s early but seminal study of The Cantos; the name of another essay, dedicated to Ezra Pound’s 130th Anniversary, “The Pound Era,” alluded to Hugh Kenner’s invaluable book. The translation of canto XLVII was short-listed for the Russian Literary Translators Guild Master Award in 2015. Alongside my own “Pound Era,” I included translations of major Pound works starting with “Belingalis Alba” in Alexei Prokopyev's translation,12 then “The Seafarer,” and “In a Station of the Metro” in my translation, selections from Cathay  translated by Andrey Kistyakowsky, and finally “Homage to Sextus Propertius” translated by Mikhail Leonovich Gasparov. Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, the perfect mask and the best lyrical poem by Pound before The Cantos, was published in several translations: the first part twice, by Ilya Kutik and Alexei Parin, and the second, in my translation. I also translated Canto XXX.

Recently, Andrey Bronnikov, a poet and philosopher, in a tour-de-force manner, in less than 4 years translated and published the complete volume of The Cantos of Ezra Pound (St. Petersburg: Nauka [Science], 2017). The volume has a 50–page introductory article and index.

However, the main and the most challenging project, the Russian translation of Pound’s Personae and The Complete Cantos with the addendum of the poems from Personae (1909), Hilda’s Book, and selected Posthumous Cantos first published by Massimo Bacigalupo, is still being edited and copy edited. All of the translations mentioned in this article, starting with those by Zinaida Vengerova and Mikhail Zenkevich, are included either in the main corpus or in the addendum. We hope that in 2018, it will finally go to print.




1. It is notable that Izabella Vengerova (1877–1956), the sister of Zinaida and Semyon, was a prominent Russian pianist and professor of music, first at St. Petersburg Conservatory and from 1924, at the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia; in 1933, she also joined the faculty of Mannes College in New York. Among her students were Samuel Barber, Leonard Bernstein, and many other prominent American musicians.

2. The essay, as well as the translation of “Before Sleep” from Blast were first published in Strelets and reprinted in the addendum to the first volume of Ezra Pound’s Poems and Selected Cantos (Probstein, ed. 2003: 841-848). If not otherwise noted, all translations from Russian are mine.

3. Vengerova wrote and published in French, “Lettres russes” in Mercure de France, and “La femme russe” in Revue des revues (September 1897), and German: “Das jüngste Russland” [The Youngest Russia] in Magazin für die Literatur des Auslands. In English, she regularly published articles and reviews of contemporary Russian literature in the Saturday Review (1902–1903). She was also the translator of Herbert George Wells’ novels into Russian.

4. Paradoxically, Harold Bloom included T. S. Eliot in his “Western Canon,” but not Pound, Auden, or Ted Hughes.

5. First published in Vesy 4, 1908 [Scales]. Included in Gumilyov 2: 181–186.

6. See: Gumilyov 3: 400–401. Even the Cheka executioners later admitted his bravery: Gumilyov never blinked and even smiled in their faces.

7. They were first published in a literary magazine Oktiabr’ [October] No. 3 (1994), 149–153. They will be also included in the forthcoming edition of Personae, ed. Ian Probstein, planned to be published alongside The Cantos by Ladomir Publishing, Moscow, for the Literary Monuments series of the Russian Academy of Sciences, but it is not clear when the editorial work will be finished and the book will finally go to print.

8. Malyavin also translated Confucius into Russian and wrote fundamental treatises of Confucius (1992), The Twilights of Dao. Chinese Civilization on the Threshold of the New Time (2000), Chinese Civilization (2000), and numerous articles.

9. Vladimir Borisovich Mikushevich (b. 1936), translated Shakespeare’s Sonnets and Spenser’s Fairy Queene, Shelley’s Adonais and other poems; contributed translations of Pound’s Canzoni, Langue d’Oc, poems by Provençal troubadours, Italian and French poets, including Chrétien de Troyes’s Cliges and Songs, Villon’s and Voltaire’s poems; from Italian, Francesco Petrarca’s Triumphs; from German, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s Parzival and Tinturel, poems by Hölderlin, Novalis, Rilke, Stefan George, Nelly Sachs and many others.

10. They used my revised essay to the forthcoming edition of Personae-The Cantos, a shorter version of which has been published in Pound 2003 and in my essay and a selection of translations dedicated to Pound’s 130th anniversary (  I also tried to save the cast and the director from misconceptions and instructed the director and the others via email, skype, and recorded lectures. My long-time colleague, Dr. Anton Nesterov, who also translated some early poems, such as both versions of “The Alchemist” and “I have tried to write paradise” from The Cantos, went to Perm in person and lectured there before the premiere. I even saved the director from the grave mistake of including the translation of a “fake” Pound in the program and perhaps in the scenario.

11. In my view, one has to live within a culture and language for a substantial amount of time trying to listen to the other (and really hear him or her) to get the insight. Joseph Brodsky lived in the US from 1972 to 1996, but he really read (and wrote about) the poets akin to him, whether Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Mark Strand, or Derek Walcott.

12. Though well-known for his translations of German poets (Rilke, Trakl, and Paul Celan), Alexei Prokopyev also translates from English and contributed to Mark Freidkin’s Selected Poems of Ezra Pound (1992) as well as in the bilingual English-Russian edition of Collected Early Poems of Ezra Pound. (2003), ed. by Ian Probstein with the contribution by Mark Freidkin.




Ian Probstein – general editor.

Mikhail Leonovich Gasparov 

Andrey Kistyakovsky 

Mark Freidkin 

Olga Sedakova 

Vladimir Borisovich Mikushevich 

Alexey Vasilyevich Parin 

Alexander Markov 

Ilya Kutik 

Boris Meshcheriakyov 

Anton Nesterov 


THE CANTOS. Opera by Alexei Siumak. Director: Semyon Aleksandrovsky. Conductor: Theodor Currentzis. Perm Theatre, December 2016.

A fragment from the opera The Cantos YouTube.

The interview of the composer Alexei Siumak (Russian). Free online.

Review of The Cantos Opera. Classical Music News (Russian). Free online.

Anton Nesterov. Lecture at the Perm State Opera Theatre.

Information on the opera, full performance, and playbill. Ezra Pound Society. Free online.



ABCR — Pound, Ezra. ABC of Reading. New York: New Directions, 1960.

CPL — Mandelstam, Osip. The Complete Critical Prose and Letters. Trans. J. G. Harris and Constance Link. Ed. Jane Gary Harris. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1979.

GB — Pound, Ezra. Gaudier-Brzeska. A Memoir. London–New York: John Lane, 1916, rpt. New York: New Directions, 1970.

SR — Pound, Ezra. The Spirit of Romance. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1953.

FM — Perloff, Marjorie. The Futurist Moment. Chicago: The U of Chicago P, 1986.



Bacigalupo, Massimo. The Forméd Trace: The Later Poetry of Ezra Pound. New York: Columbia UP, 1980.

Bacigalupo Massimo. “Pound's Cantos 72 and 73, annotated translation from Italian into English.” Paideuma 20.1–2 (Spring & Fall 1991): 9–42.

Bacigalupo Massimo. “The Strange Case of Ezra Pound's Cantos.” English Studies 42.1 (1999). 63-68.

Bacigalupo Massimo, ed. Ezra Pound. Posthumous Cantos. Manchester: Carcanet, 2015.

Bacigalupo Massimo. “Retranslating Ezra Pound’s Renaissance Cantos.” Lingue Linguaggi 14 (2015): 121-135. Free online.

Bakhtin, Mikhail. “Forms of Time and of the Chronotope in the Novel.” The Dialogic Imagination. Ed. by Michael Holquist. Translated by Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press, 1981.

Bloom, Harold. The Anxiety of Influence. A Theory of Poetry. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1973.

—. The Western Canon. The Books and School of the Ages. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1994.

Brodsky, Joseph. “Naberezhnaia Neistselimykh” [The embankment of the incurable. Fondamenta degli incurabili]. Sochinenia Iosifa Brodskogo (“Works of J. Brodsky”). Ed. Ia. Gordin, compiled by G. Komarov. 7 vols. Saint Petersburg: Pushkinskii fond, 1993-1999. VII: 7-56.

Bush, Ronald. The Genesis of Ezra Pound’s Cantos. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1977.

Bush, Ronald. “Late Cantos LXXII–CXVII.” The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound. Ed. Ira B. Nadel. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge UP, 1999. 109–138.

Carpenter, Humphrey. A Serious Character: The Life of Ezra Pound. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1988.

Chukhrukidze (Chukhrov), Keti. Pound & £. Modeli Utopii 20 veka (“Models of 20th century Utopias.”) Moscow: Logos, 1999.

Davenport, Guy. Cities on Hills. A Study of I-XXX of Ezra Pound's Cantos. Ann Arbor, Michigan: UMI Research Press, 1983.

Dekker, George. “Sailing After Knowledge.” The Cantos of Ezra Pound. A Critical Study. New York: Routledge & Kegan Paul PLC, 1963.

Dghimbinov, Stanislav Bemovich, ed. Amerikanskaya poeziia XIX-XX vekov v russkikh  perevodakh (American Verse in Russian Translation XIX–XX centuries). Moscow: Raduga, 1983.

DuPlessis, Rachel Blau. Drafts. Free online.

Eastman, Barbara and Hugh Kenner. Ezra Pound’s Cantos: the Story of the Text, 1948-1975. Maine: National Poetry Foundation, 1979.

Eliot, T. S. "Reflections on Vers Libre" New Statesman VIII 204 (3 March 1917): 518-519.

Froula, Christine. A Guide to Ezra Pound’s Selected Poems. New York: New Directions, 1983.

—. To Write Paradise: Style and Error in Pound’s Cantos. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1984.

Gautier, Judith. [Walter, Judith]. Le Livre de Jade. Paris: Lemerre, 1867.

Gumilyov, Nikolay. Sochineniia v 3 tomakh [Works in 3 volumes]. Ed. R. D. Timenchik. Moscow: Khudozhestvennia Literatura, 1991.

Gutner, Mikhail ed. [according to Mikhail Zenkevich, Prince Sviatopolk-Mirskii, see notes and text.] Anthology of New English Poetry. Leningrad: Gosizdat Hudozhestvennaya literarura [State Publishing Belles Lettres], 1937.

Hatlen, Burton. “Pound and Nature: Reading of Canto XXIII.” Paideuma 25.1-2 (Spring & Fall 1996): 161-188.

Kearns, George. Guide to Ezra Pound's Selected Cantos. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1980.

Kenner Hugh. 1951. The Poetry of Ezra Pound. Lincoln and London: The University of Nebraska Press, 1985.

Kenner, Hugh. The Pound Era. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971.

Knight, Angus William, ed. The Philosophy of the Beautiful. 2 vols. London: J. Murray. 1893.

Kudryavitsky, Anatoly, ed. Antologia Imazhizma [The Anthology of Imagism]. Moscow: Progress, 2001.

Makin, Peter. Pound’s Cantos. London-Boston: Allen & Unwin, 1985.

Malyavin, Vladimir V. “Kitayskiye improvizacii Paunda” [Chinese improvisations of Pound]. Vostok–Zapad [East-West]. Moscow: Nauka [Science], 246–277.

Mandelstam, Osip. The Complete Critical Prose and Letters. Trans. J. G. Harris and Constance Link. Ed. Jane Gary Harris. Ann Arbor: Ardis, 1979.

—. Sochineniia v dvukh tomakh. [Works in 2 volumes]. Ed. Pavel Nerler. Moscow: Khudozhesvennaya Literatura, 1990.

—. On Osip Mandelstam’s “The Octaves.” “Do not tempt foreign tongues,” “Ariosto.” Trans. Ian Probstein. Brooklyn Rail: In Translation. (March 2011). Octaves.

—. “Hagia Sophia,” “I will say It in Draft, In a Whisper,” “Armed With a Vision of Narrow Wasps,” “I Will tell You This, My Lady.” Trans. Ian Probstein. International Poetry Review Vol. XXX. 2 (Fall 2004): 64-69.

—. “The Horseshoe Finder,” “The Age,” “January 1, 1924”. Trans. Ian Probstein. Lunch Ticket (Summer-Fall 2016). Los Angeles: Antioch University. Gabo Prize. Free online.

Moody David. Ezra Pound: Poet. A Portrait of the Man and His Work. 3 vols. Oxford: Oxford UP, 2007, 2014, 2015.

Nicholls, Peter. Ezra Pound: Politics, Economics and Writing – A Study of The Cantos. London: Palgrave, 1984.

Perloff, Marjorie. The Futurist Moment. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1986.



Pound, Ezra. ABC of Reading. New York: New Directions, 1960.

—. The Cantos of Ezra Pound. New York: New Directions, 1998.

—. A Draft of XVI Cantos. Paris: Three Mountains Press, 1925.

—. A Draft of XXX Cantos.  Paris: Hours Press, 1930; London: Farrar & Rinehart, 1933.

—. Gaudier-Brzeska. A Memoir. London–New York: John Lane, 1916, rpt. New York: New Directions, 1970.

—. Literary Essays. Edited and with an introduction by T. S. Eliot. London and Boston: Faber & Faber, 1954.

—. Personae: The Collected Poems of Ezra Pound. New York: Boni & Liveright, 1926.

—. The Pisan Cantos. Edited by Richard Sieburth. New York: New Directions, 2003.

—. Selected Poems. Edited and with an introduction by T. S. Eliot. London: Faber & Gwyer, 1928; New York: Laughlin, 1957.

—. The Spirit of Romance. Norfolk, CT: New Directions, 1953.


POUND EZRA – WORKS IN RUSSIAN TRANSLATION (alphabetised by translator’s name)

—. Cantos I‒III. Trans. Boris Avdeyev. Kontekst 5 [Context]: М, 1999. 97‒110.

—. Cantos IV—VII. Trans. Boris Avdeyev. Kontekst 6 [Context]: М., 2000. 47‒79.

—. Cantos XXXVIII, XXXIX, XLV, XLVI, XLIX, LI, CXV. Trans. Boris Avdeyev. Kontekst 9 [Context]: М: 2003. 13‒52.

—. KAHTOC. Trans. Andrei Bronnikov. St. Petersburg: Nauka, 2017. Publication details.

—. Ezra Pound. Putevoditel’ po kul’ture (“Guide to Kulchur”). [Selected essays from The Spirit of Romance, Treatise on Harmony, Guide to Kulchur, Pavannes and Divagations, Impact.] Ed. Keti Chukhrukidze (Chukhrov). Moscow: Logos, 1997.

—. Palomnchestvo volkhvov (“Journey of the Magi.”) [Selected poems of Ezra Pound and T. S. Eliot]. Ed. Keti Chukhrukidze. Moscow: Logos, 2005.

—. “Ezra Pound.” Special issue of Literaturnoye obozrneiye 6 (1995) (“Literary review”): 53-91.

—. Izbrannye 1982. Selected Poems of Ezra Pound. Ed. Mark Freidkin. Moscow: Carte Blanche, 1992.

—. “Near Perigord.” Trans. Maya Kononenko. Zvezda (“Star”) 7 (2014): 101–110.

—. Cantos I, III, IV, V. Trans. Maya Kononenko. Novyi mir (“New World”) 12 (2002): 16–30.

—. Cathay. Transl. Andrey Kistyakowsky. Vostok–Zapad. Moscow: Nauka, 1982.

—. Cantos I-III. Trans. Vladimir Kucheryavkin. Mitin Zhurnal 52 (Summer 1995): 127-44. Free online. 

—. Canto XXXVI. Trans. Ian Probstein. “In Search of Light and Justice,” introduction. Foreign Literature 12 (December 2013). Free online.

—. Canto XLVII. Trans. Ian Probstein. Novyi mir (“New World”) 4 (1080) (April 2015): 144–146. Canto 47.

—. Ezra Pound. Poems and Selected Cantos. A bilingual edition. Vol. I: Collected Early Poems. Ed. Ian Probstein. St. Petersburg: Vladimir Dal, 2003. Publication details. Full text.

—. On  Ezra Pound’s “Hell Cantos XIV–XVII.” Introd. and trans. Ian Probstein. Novaia kozha (“Almanac New Skin”) 5 (December 2014): 109-110.

—. Hilda’s Book. Trans. Trans. Irina Kovalyova, Vladimir Mikushevich, and Ian Probstein. Setevaya Slovesnost’ [Net Word Art] (September 2014). Free online.

—. Malatesta Cantos VIII–XI. Trans. with commentaries Ian Probstein and Alexander Markov. Textonly 39 (2’ 13). Free online.

—. Pisan Cantos LXXV, LXXVII. Trans. Boris Meshcheryakov; Cantos LXXVIII, LXXXIX. Trans. Ian Probstein. Notes and Commentaries Boris Meshcheryakov and Ian Probstein. Introduction by Ian Probstein. Gvideon 2 (2012): 107‒169.

—. “The Seafarer,” “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” Part II, “Canto XXX.” (October 30, 2015). Trans. Ian Probstein.  Free online.

—. “Radi neskol’kikh tysyqch zabytykh knig” [For the sake of several thousand forgotten books]. Trans. Mikhail Zenkevich. Oktiabr’ [October] No. 3 (1994): 149–153.

Preda Roxana. The Cantos Project. Edinburgh University. Ezra Pound Society. Free online.

Probstein, Ian. The River of Time: Time-Space, Language and History in Avant-Garde, Modernist, and Contemporary Poetry. Boston: Academic Studies Press, 2017. Academic Studies Press

—. “The Pound Era. [Epokha Paunda].” Essay on Pound’s work to 130th birth anniversary. Translations of the poems by Ezra Pound (1885–1972): “The Seafarer,” “Hugh Selwyn Mauberley,” part II, “Canto XXX.” (October 30, 2015). Free online.

—. Hilda’s Book. “Introduction.” Trans. Irina Kovalyova, Vladimir Mikushevich, and Ian Probstein. Setevaya Slovesnost’ [Net Word Art] (September 2014). Free online.

—. Lecture on the Middle and Late Cantos. (Russian). Web. Free online.

—. “’Sailing After Knowledge’. On Ezra Pound’s Canto XLVII.” Translation of “Canto XLVII.” Novyi mir (“New World”) 4 (1080) (April 2015): 144–146. Canto 47.

Rakov, Vyacheslav. “Na Puti k molchaniyu” (“On the Road to Silence”). Program of the State Perm Opera and Ballet Theatre. 42-45.

Svyatopolk-Mirsky, Dmitry Petrovich. 1922. 1927. A History of Russian Literature: From Its Beginnings to 1900. 2 vols. New York: Knopf, 1958; Evanston Ill.: Northwestern UP, 1999.

Svyatopolk-Mirsky, Dmitry Petrovich, ed. Antologiya Novoy angliyskoy poezii. (“Anthology of New English poetry”). Leningrad: Gosizdat Hudozhestvennaya Literarura [State Publishing Belles Lettres] 1937. See also Gutner.

Taranovsky Kirill. Essays on Mandelstam. Cambridge, MA and London: Harvard UP, 1976.

Terrell C.F. A Companion to the Cantos of Ezra Pound. Berkeley: U. of California P, 1993.

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KAHTOC. [The Cantos of Ezra Pound]. Translated into Russian by Andrei Bronnikov. St. Petersburg: Nauka, 2017.


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Three years ago, in December 2014, I was approached by associates of a well-known Russian publisher with the question whether I, as a poet who was also known to write in English and whose topics included history and philosophy, would be interested in translating The Cantos of Ezra Pound into Russian. I was astonished by such a straightforward question, but answered without hesitation: “Yes, absolutely.” The enormous challenge of the work was exciting to me. I wrote a sample of a few cantos and showed it to the publisher and reviewers. They all liked it a lot. It appears that the poetics, style and vocabulary I used in my translation fitted well with those of The Cantos.

After being assured of publication, I went on my journey into Pound's world. I decided to work on the translation of The Cantos a few hours each and every day. It was not really difficult. I was inspired and enthralled to write poetry alongside Ezra Pound. When people ask me how I did the whole book in less than two years, I usually answer: "After all, it is poetry, and you never keep writing a poem, of whatever length, for a long time." You need to hear and catch the music of the poem to be able to put it down on paper. The translation of poetry is similar: once you have captured the music, style and vocabulary of the original, half the job is done. The other half was something particular to Pound. I quickly realized that some kind of additional research in all areas covered by The Cantos is necessary. I have collected and studied dozens of books related to Pound and topics of his Cantos as well as many academic papers and notes, not to mention all the dictionaries, including the ancient Greek, Latin and Chinese ones (by the way, the identification of the Russian equivalents for Chinese personal names and toponyms was probably the most difficult part of the whole project). I visited most places where Ezra Pound lived and worked; I also went to recent Eliot-Pound conferences in Rapallo and Philadelphia. In September 2017, I had the great privilege to visit Mary de Rachewiltz in Brunnenburg where I discussed many things related to Pound and his work with her. All this helped me complete a preface for the book and the commentaries to the text. Finally, the translation, the preface and all the commentaries were set together in a huge volume of 944 pages. The book also contains a large index with names and bios of several hundreds of actors in The Cantos, which looks like an encyclopaedia of Pound's heroes. The last months of work were terribly exhausting. I made the layout of the translation myself to be sure that all the words, lines, ideograms and pictograms are in the right place. We completed all copyright formalities with New Directions and by the end of October 2017, we were almost done. The first Russian translation of The Cantos was officially released on November 1st, 2017. The book is now for sale in Russian bookstores. On December 1st, I gave a presentation of the book at a Moscow book fair, which was a great success: there is a huge interest in Pound and his Cantos in Russia. I was touched by the warm reception of the book during all five days of the Moscow book fair. People shook my hand and congratulated me for this achievement. More responses and professional reviews will appear any time soon. The work has been done, but its future has just begun: the Russian Cantos is starting its own life. I am very happy and proud to become a part of this process. The endless journey of Pound's text through the world literature goes on. Taking this opportunity, I would like to express my gratitude to all those who helped and supported me during my work on the Russian translation of The Cantos. Thank you very much!

                                                      Andrei Bronnikov

                                                               Amsterdam, 10 December 2017



A Letter to the translator

Andrey Tavrov


Dear Andrei Vitalievich!

Let me continue our conversation started during the Moscow Book Fair at the booth showing your translation of The Cantos. I began to read this magnificent book. The first thing I enjoyed was the long foreword to the book, one of the few commentaries on Pound that does not drown in the chorus of mandatory excuses and reservations about his “political views,” but speaks of him as a poet of genius. Secondly, you do not focus on Pound’s “failure,” an idea which is accepted in most works on The Cantos, but consider this colossal poem in a way it truly deserves — as a living pulsation of the universe framed within great lines and massive sections. Thirdly, you do not take the so-called “Pound’s repentance” as your main topic. Though any true repentance is precious in itself, in this case, by becoming an obligatory subject without which it is impossible to talk about Pound, it frightens with its importunity. And most importantly, the preface is written in a very clear, effortless and deep manner, showing indisputable knowledge of the material and topics in question. I have not seen such pleasing clarity and consistency of presentation for a long time.

I have read the first two sections of your translation of The Cantos, holding both the original and a dictionary to hand. A deep, echoing sound and magical dreams that turned into reality have accompanied this reading: this was the same clear and distinct Pound, as he appeared in the preface. Other translations that I read before — Kudryavitsky (is this the name?), Probstein, Sedakova, Faray — had different degrees of success; however, the inner heat and ardour of Pound’s poetry could not be revealed by anyone but you.

Pound’s poetry is close and kindred to me, so let me thank you from the bottom of my heart, noting that the rhythm of Pound’s verse that you spoke of during our brief meeting in Moscow really does live and breathe, change and return to itself in the beginning sections of your translation, as well as in those parts where I have selectively looked.

In parallel, I was reading your poetry book Species Evanescens, which is an extremely interesting and lively work, showing a poetry interwoven with a historical diary; moreover, the book itself is published in very good taste. I have recommended your poetry book and your translation of The Cantos to all my friends. It is strange that you and I have not had a chance to meet and talk until now.

I thank you once again for the permanent joy of reading The Cantos in Russian.


Andrey Tavrov,