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Canto II

Canto II

by Ezra Loomis Pound

Appearances Theme

You'll be hard-pressed to find a poet who was more interested in outward appearances than Pound was. In all of his writing, Pound isn't the type of guy to say something like, "Forget appearances; it's what's on the inside that counts." For Pound, beauty is something that's almost always visible in someone or something's appearance, as long as you're trained to look for it properly. It's that last little hitch that makes Pound feel like he needs to educate us—with poems like "Canto II"—about what true beauty is.

Questions About Appearances

  1. In your opinion, what is Pound saying about Helen of Troy's beauty? Is he saying that men are superficial, or is there something deeper going on? Why does he make a point of talking about the effects of Helen's beauty?
  2. In lines 62-63, how does Acoetes know that the young boy is actually the god Dionysius in disguise? Can he tell this from appearance alone? What examples from the text support your answer?
  3. In "Canto II," is Pound just making an argument for style over substance? How do you think Pound would even tend to think of these categories (style vs. substance)? Why?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

Skin deep? Puh-lease. In "Canto II," Pound is very superficial. He basically says that there's no such thing as beauty on the outside and beauty on the inside. There's only beauty.

In "Canto II," Pound suggests that people who try to deny the importance of physical beauty are actually just afraid of the power this beauty holds over their lives. Deep, Ez, deep.

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