The principal essay in this book of essays drawn from diverse sources traces the role of music and of Villon in Pound’s oeuvre and identifies the duration rhyme as a metrical construct of musical proportion within Pound’s Cantos. The Introduction provides a background to Ezra Pound’s activities as a composer. The essays as a whole address the question of why Pound composed.
Using computer-assisted models, Fisher demonstrates how Pound applied the relative temporal durations of elements in his poems—vowels, syllables, words, phrases and verse lines—and the precise proportions that result from those relations to arrive at the great bass of a new poetic based on time durations and informed by music. With this analysis, musical structures in the poetry came into view as if the poems had been X-rayed.
Pound’s compositional activities in the ‘teens, ‘20s and ‘30s were a means of creating quantitative structure from time durations and their relations. This provided Pound a consistent metrical approach to poetry that included many languages. It was also one of the ways in which he “cut a shape in time;” his building blocks were the relative durations of elapsed time.