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12 - Pound and music

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 May 2006

Ira B. Nadel
Affiliation:
University of British Columbia, Vancouver
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Summary

I am glad you have got your voice, or part of it back. I have the organ of a tree toad, fortunately, for if I had ever been able to sing “My Country tiz of Theeee, ” without going off the key four times in each bar, I shd. have warbled & done no bloomin' thing else - che peccato and wot a loss to litterchure.

(P/J, 65)

This is Ezra Pound to his friend James Joyce, who was a singer with, by some accounts, the potential for a career as such. On the other hand, all accounts of Pound's voice are pretty well in accord with his own jocular assessment - raucous, nasal, a scratchy phonograph. Recordings bear this out. When we say someone has a beautiful voice we usually mean a speaking or singing organ of great resonance, power, suppleness, freedom, range, capable of an infinitude of nuance, a strangely affecting Gestalt through which we experience a thrill akin to the sensation of flight. But there is another kind of voice than the merely frequency producing one, another kind of singer than the paragon of high notes - certain poets, who, either naturally, or by acquisition, have the ability to compose words which prescribe the voice which should utter them, poets with an “ear,” poets who never separate word from sounding tone and the percussive rhythm of consonants.

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Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 1999

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  • Pound and music
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound
  • Online publication: 28 May 2006
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521431174.012
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  • Pound and music
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound
  • Online publication: 28 May 2006
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521431174.012
Available formats
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Send book to Google Drive

To send content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about sending content to Google Drive.

  • Pound and music
  • Edited by Ira B. Nadel, University of British Columbia, Vancouver
  • Book: The Cambridge Companion to Ezra Pound
  • Online publication: 28 May 2006
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CCOL0521431174.012
Available formats
×