Study Guide

Canto XLV Strength and Skill

By Ezra Pound

Strength and Skill

Now making money without producing anything for other people is one thing for Pound, but it's a completely other thing if moneylending and finance actually prevent people from producing something. But when you think about it, usury and finance can have this effect. Imagine that a gifted carpenter makes enough money so that he can spend the rest of his life making a living off the stock market. That guy will totally stop doing the thing he's good at to manage his money, and the world will lose one more amazing carpenter. According to Pound in Canto XLV, we're all made poorer when we starting making money without creating anything new.

Questions About Strength and Skill

  1. In your opinion, does Pound have a point when he says that making money off of speculation and lending can actually prevent people from developing their true talents? Why or why not?
  2. How are our lives enriched by having people who make good furniture, good clothing, and good houses? Aren't these things pretty basic? Why do they necessarily need to be made by talented people?
  3. Do you agree with Pound's claim that modern art isn't meant to last hundreds of years like the old stuff was? Why or why not?

Chew on This

In Canto XLV, Pound suggests that there is no form of art more important than the humble trades (i.e., weaving, carpentry, stonework, etc.).

In Canto XLV, Pound says that modern art is doomed because our obsession with money has made it impossible to care about beauty and skill in art.

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