Fall 1989 • Vol. XI No. 4 Nonfiction |

‘And Agassiz for Gestalt Seed’: Pound’s American Taxonomy

Expatriate and polyglot, translator of Cavalcanti and Confucius, and composer of eclectic and multilingual cantos, Ezra Pound has until relatively recently perhaps too often been viewed as a cosmopolitan whose work was more the fruit of a cultivated classicism than an outgrowth of his American roots. In Patria Mia, a piece revised just two years before he would begin his initial attempt at drafting a modern epic, Pound himself suggested, as he would elsewhere, that in undertaking to tell "the tale of the tribe" he had in mind a particular national or racial type and a manifest destiny. Classifying a population of his compatriots as "the dominant people" (104), and discovering "our first sign of the 'alba'; of America, the nation, in the embryo of New York" (104), he envisions in the essay the possibility of an American Renaissance or Risorgimento leading to the regeneration of a City, a version of Whitman's Manhattan, "to which all roads lead, and from which there goes out an author

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