Themes and Meanings (Masterplots II: Poetry, Revised Edition)
The central theme of the Cantos as a whole is the poet’s search for a philosophy capable of validating an ideal system of ethics, economics, and politics—for a social order that will prove a “city of Light,” or an ideal civilization. In line with this search Pound presents examples of social behavior on the part of humanity which not only can prove self-destructive but also can prevent a city of light from emerging or destroy one that is existing. Apart from the theme that beautiful women can prove Circes, possessing enough sexual power to turn men into swine, there is always the danger that a human being can feel irrational desire, whether it be in respect to wealth and power or in respect to irrational attachment to sexual pleasure.
Canto 29 presents an example of both overweening ambition and attachment to sexual pleasure in Pernella, the concubine of Count Orsini of Verona; these weaknesses bring about her destruction. Pound also presents two examples from the Middle Ages respecting the destructive power of lust: the Italian troubadour Sordella di Goito, who loves the noble lady Cunizza, and the French troubadour Arnaut Daniel, who loves the noble lady of Gascony. “Pure love” is bypassed in both cases.
Finally, Canto 29 moves through time and space to the United States of the 1920’s. The period between 1919 and 1929 has been called the Flapper Age, the Jazz Age, and the Roaring Twenties. In 1917, while World War I...
(The entire section is 379 words.)
Want to Read More?
Subscribe now to read the rest of Canto 29 Themes. Plus get complete access to 30,000+ study guides!