Study Guide

Canto XLV Sound Check

By Ezra Pound

Sound Check

Can We Get You Some Brimstone to Go With That Fire?

There's no sugarcoating it, Pound blusters through this poem like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. From the opening two lines, you can tell that Pound is getting totally Biblical on us, and we're not talking about the nice "love one another" New Testament stuff. We're talking some Old Testament, "You're gonna' burn" stuff.

Just get a load of lines 1 and 2, where Pound writes, "With Usura/ With usura hath no man a house of good stone" (1-2). For starters, he capitalizes the word "usura" and gives it to us in the Latin form to make it sound like one of the seven deadly sins. On top of that, the imagery of a house made of stone makes the poem seem like it's set in Bible times, even though this description could still apply to houses today.

As Pound continues, he gets even more aggressive, occasionally pulling out all caps to say something like "CONTRA NATURAM," which means "against nature" in Latin. No doubt about it, you can tell just from the way this poem sounds that you're gonna get yourself a heaping bowl of moral indignation from Pound. And if you think it sounds blustery when you're reading it, just try listening to Pound reading it. You might notice that at the end, he actually breaks off and tries to explain his point in a few words.

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