A Draft of XXX Cantos: “Make it New”: A Manifesto for Modernist Alchemy - Ezra Pound

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

A Draft of XXX Cantos: “Make it New”: A Manifesto for Modernist Alchemy
Ezra Pound

A Draft of XXX Cantos by Ezra Pound, published in 1930, is not merely an early version of his epic masterpiece but also a flaming statement that heralds a new age in poetry. Pound does more than just tell stories in its pages; he alchemizes, transforming conventional forms and creating a new aesthetic born in the furnace of modernity. His catchphrase, "Make it new," echoes throughout the cantos, imploring readers and other artists to embrace innovation's transforming power and liberate themselves from the chains of the past.

This "newness" takes on several forms. Pound chooses the flowing lines of free poetry above the strict frameworks of meter and rhyme. By combining myths, historical tidbits, and firsthand observations, he defies the strict sequential limitations of narrative and creates a mosaic in which the East and the West, past and present, converge and blend. He breathes new vitality into language, giving long-forgotten terms a second chance at surprising new uses. The cantos have a lively vitality that keeps pushing the limits of what poetry can be because of this linguistic alchemy.

Formal innovation is only one aspect of A Draft of XXX Cantos; another is the creation of a new mindset. Pound opposes the antiquated customs and oppressive morals of his era, longing instead for a restoration to a primordial vitality and an intimate, unadulterated interaction with the unadulterated substance of the earth. He looks to a variety of places for inspiration, including Noh plays, Provençal poetry, and Chinese ideograms, in an effort to recover the creative wellspring that is hidden beneath the surface of contemporary society.

Pound's search for rebirth is not without controversy, though. His anti-Semitic remarks and affinity with fascism threw a worrisome shadow over the cantos. These elements cannot be disregarded or readily reconciled with the poetic goal of the poem. In the end, the reader has to wrestle with Pound's vision's complexity, appreciating both its genius and its unsettling undertones.

A Draft of XXX Cantos is nevertheless regarded as a seminal modernist work in spite of its shortcomings. It is evidence of Pound's unrelenting search for creative invention and his defiance of convention's constraints. His exhortation to "Make it new" is still relevant today for thinkers and artists in many fields, serving as a reminder that innovation survives on audaciously venturing into unexplored territory and continuous reinvention.