Louis Zukofsky and Ezra Pound: Idols Almost Always Disappoint


Objectivist poet Louis Zukofsky edited a magazine called Poetry in February 1931, as a result of his connection with Ezra Pound, whom Zukofsky impressed with his fanboy analysis of Pounds poem Cantos. Zukofsky included a list of poets whose works are “absolutely necessary to students of poetry” in the magazine issue (Zukofsky 268). Topping the list is Ezra Pound and his work Cantos.  I am in agreement with Zukofsky that Cantos is a spectacular work of poetry and Pound demonstrates his skill level with this poem. I can see why Zukofsky would have seen Pounds work to be something worth noting to his budding and future fan base, as Pound was almost twice his age and Zukofsky was the future.


The direct fish hook into Pound from an admiring Zukofsky set up a wonderful friendship that put Pound right where he wanted to be, in a position of admiration. Despite later on becoming jaded when the rose-colored glasses fell and he saw Pound for the man he was. “Zukofsky was becoming increasingly bitter about America’s failure to celebrate its poets and his hopes for realizing Pound’s renaissance all but faded (Simon 2). Pound was not the zenith of High Modernist poets, but an admired poet among his colleagues and Zukofsky craved more. He wanted Pound to be a mentor, a father, a literary guide for all that he wanted to be.

Ezra Pound is a poet who utilizes classical literature, such as The Odyssey in his writing “creating a lineage to western thought and western literature” (Basheer Discussion Thread Forum 201).  Objectivist poet Zukofsky looked at Cantos as one unified object that expressed intelligence, elegance, and sincerity of the poet. Where I differ in Zukofsky’s assessment is the flaw that exists in this philosophy. Zukofsky assumes the words on the page in any given poem represent the author and are treated as photographs of that person’s life. If this logic is also applied to all writers Zukofsky may be frightened of some horror writers and deceived by some sweet and lovely poetry. Another area that seems to trouble me is the ideology of objectivist poets is to reject the homage to classical literature yet he was a fanboy in love with Pound’s Cantos, which is fraught with classical references. My differences in opinion are developed from my 2017 point of view and as a result, can appreciate how Zukofsky may have viewed Pound in an era when community and culture among artists were incredibly important to the success of their craft. Each era has its own group of artists that are all quality contributors, but not all of them are equal in talent and ambition. Zukofsky comes across as a very ambitious writer among a group of equally talented writers.


Works Cited

Basheer, Tahseen. Southern New Hampshire University Discussion Thread 2-1. June 28,

Pound, Ezra. Canto I. The Norton Anthology: American Literature, edited by Nina Baym.

Norton, 2012, 328-330

Simon, Linda. Poetic Correspondence. The Letters of Ezra Pound and Louis Zukofsky.

The Christian Science Monitor. August 7, 1987.

Zukofsky, Louis. Program: “Objectivists” 1931. Poetry Foundation. February 1931.


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