Study Guide

Canto XLV Lines 28-40

By Ezra Pound

Lines 28-40

Lines 28-34

Pietro Lombardo
came not by usura
Duccio came not by usura
nor Pier della Francesca; Zuan Bellin' not by usura
nor was 'La Calunnia' painted.
Came not by usura Angelico; came not Ambrogio Praedis,
Came no church of cut stone signed: Adamo me fecit.

  • In the second half of line 27, Pound mentions someone named Pietro Lombardo. We shouldn't be surprised, since it's pretty clear to us by now that Pound adored a lot of guys with Italian names.
  • And sure enough, this guy was an Italian sculptor from the 1400s. In other words, he was a pre-modern artist who was sponsored by rich patrons to create his art, so he wasn't concerned with how well his art would sell on the free market. 
  • It makes sense here that Pound would say that artists like Lombardo existed in a world before usury, when they could just care about good art and nothing else. 
  • The same goes for a person called Duccio, who was an Italian painter, as well as Pier della Francesca and Zuan Bellin, who were Italian painters. All of them worked in the 1400s. 
  • The rest of the stanza is similarly a bunch of things Pound thinks would never have been made in the modern, money-hungry world. La Calunnia is an allusion to a painting called Calumny by Sandro Botticelli. Angelico and Ambrogio Praedis were also 15th-century Italian painters. 
  • In line 33, Pound finishes by saying that in a world with usury, there would be no church made of stone that is signed "Adamo me fecit." This phrase translates as "Adam me made." The allusion is to the Church of San Zeno in Verona, Italy. Pound likely admired this church very much, and he also knew that the stone of the church had been signed with the phrase "Adam made me," meaning that Adam from the Bible had made the church as a holy object. 

Lines 35-40

Not by usura St. Trophime
Not by usura Saint Hilaire,
Usura rusteth the chisel
It rusteth the craft and the craftsman
It gnaweth the thread in the loom
None learneth to weave gold in her pattern;

  • St. Trophime and Saint Hildaire are churches in Arles and Poitiers, France, respectively. 
  • Just to be clear, though, Pound isn't trying to push Christianity on you here. He's talking about the buildings as beautiful pieces of art—that's what he wants you to appreciate. 
  • Next, he continues in his trade metaphor by saying that usury makes a chisel rusty, meaning that people who work with stone won't care about their work anymore in a world ruled by money. 
  • It ruins the craftsman and makes people less skilled at their work, because no one who's smart and creative will bother to become a tradesperson in a world that pays these people very little money. 
  • Similarly, no one will know how to weave gold into a pattern because anyone who's skilled will just end up working some boring job that makes them a lot of money.

This is a premium product

Tired of ads?

Join today and never see them again.

Please Wait...