The difficult, sometimes frustrating, often moving, occasionally brilliant epic poem The Cantos is Ezra Pound's most significant contribution to world literature. The poem, though, is rarely read all the way through, and Pound is better remembered for his short poems, his early theoretical writings and manifestoes, and his turbulent personal history. This is unfortunate, because in The Cantos are some of the most beautiful and powerful passages in twentieth-century poetry. Written over more than fifty years, the poem is a document of the rise, reign, and fall of a literary style, a generation of artists, and a way of life. Pound was perhaps the central figure in the development of modernism, not only in literature but in fiction, drama, sculpture, and even music, and in The Cantos so many of his enduring concerns and artistic innovations are present, both as prefigurations and reminiscences of the heady days of the 1920s and 1930s. Although the poem is erratic, difficult, and at times willfully obscure, it merits careful attention and has much to reward the patient reader.