Part One

Lines 1-68 are an adaptation of Homer's The Odyssey. Lines 1-14 tell of the journey into the underworld the Odysseus and his crew took to get back home. When they left Turkey they took on sheep to sacrifice to the underworld upon arrival. Fear, or more appropriately apprehension, of their necessary journey into the underworld caused the weeping.

Lines 23-28:These lines told of a sacrifice offered to Tiresias, the blind seer, so that he may tell Odysseus his prophecy.

Lines 29-41:This passage details his toils with the dead souls in the underworld as he awaits the prophet, Tiresias.

Lines 42-46:The first visitor, his friend Elpenor, to Odysseus and his crew. Elpenor died before they left home and was left unburied. They made plans to bury him upon their return.

Lines 58-71:Anticlea, his dead mother, was beaten back to allow Tiresias to claim his libations. Tiresias gave his prophecy and told Odysseus of great sorrow and great joy ahead. He was to lose all whom he traveled with but was to survive his journey and return home.

Lines 72-76:Aeneas offered the Golden Bough to Proserpina before descending to the underworld. Pound apparently associated Persophone with Aphrodite due to their similar regimes.


The Cantos
Part Forty-five

Part one dealt with the hero's past whereas this section deals with the hero's present and what we find controlling it, capitalism. The central driving force on capitalism is money. We use this money to build wealth by loaning it out to obtain more money in the form of interest. This is called usury. The bible states that this is wrong. In fact, Jesus forbade it. Jews could not lend to other Jews because it was in violation of the Old Testament and Christians could not, in theory, lend to other Christians. These rules allowed usury between the Jews and the Christians.

It is common practice to ignore the parts of the bible that we do not like and in today's society Capitalism and usury is right up there with God and apple pie. The bible makes very strong statements against doing such things and Pound goes back to this. The Pope will come around and sound incredibly liberal about economic issues. This is because the Catholic religion tends to have a long memory for their own theology. He is not spouting 20th century liberalism. He is restating conservatism form 400-500 years ago.

Pound views these actions as bad back then; they still are today in his eye. Most denominations seem to forget this, they enshrine capitalism. Pound used The Great Depression as an example of the failure of capitalism. Great hobo villages cropped up around railroad tracks as people scoured the land in search of work. Pound blamed capitalism for this atrocity.

Lines 1-9:Pound asked what builds a house. His answer was "your good labor." He asked what builds the cathedrals. His answer was "your devotion." Usury prevents this from happening. The Virgin Mary can not have her visions of the angels with usury, it destroys all spiritual values.

Lines 10-13:Art is no longer made to endure for the ages. One statue is not made for one rich man. Art is mass produced to be sold quickly and cheaply.

Lines 14-18:Capitalism is a sin against and perversion of nature. The line of the soup kitchens grow thick for want of little bread or soup for survival of one more day.

Lines 19-28:No one will buy the stone cutters stone because they have no money, therefore, he is out of work. Less modern times gave to more self-sufficient existence. Brazil, Japan, and Korea are having difficult times due to lack of capital. Indonesia is having a roving depression. When the system has become addicted to the capital, and the capital flees, the economy crashes. A farmer who raised cows in the old system brought his butter to market to be sold in the local economy. Our modern economic system brings butter form Scotland or England. Everything flows everywhere. The local farmer has been put out of business because he can not compete with the imported prices. When the capital runs out and the Scots and Brits do not want to send us butter because we can not pay for it we do without because we no longer have a domestic source for the commodity. They can not sell butter and we can not but it, thus, a global crash occurs.

Lines 43-47:During the Great Depression the birth and marriage rates fell sharply. After WWII the birth rate skyrocketed. Two reasons for this substantial climb were better economic times and the reuniting of lovers that served in the war effort. Usury had come between men and women for all those years, a counter of nature. In reference to the Catholic Church, contraceptives are held to be a crime against nature. People took these measures because they could not afford a child, so they would counter nature too.

Lines 48-50:Eleusis was a city in ancient Greece where rituals were held to honor Demeter and Persephone. Pound's substitution of whores for priestesses shows the degradation of the ancient rituals.