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The Cantos | Study Guide

Ezra Pound

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In text

(Course Hero, 2019)



Course Hero. "The Cantos Study Guide." May 31, 2019. Accessed June 9, 2023.


Course Hero, "The Cantos Study Guide," May 31, 2019, accessed June 9, 2023,



Ezra Pound

Years Written



Epic Poem


Drama, History

At a Glance

The Cantos is a lengthy, sprawling modern epic poem that was meant to document the history of the human race. It was also supposed to reinvent the genre of the epic poem by casting a string of heroes and villains from history rather than following one hero's arc. This goal would break with the narrative tradition of the epic, yet meet its scope. The ambitious work took Ezra Pound half of his life to write, yet the work remains unfinished. It has garnered both admiration and scorn from critics, and it represents decades of work by one of the most important modern poets. While some of it may be difficult to understand, some passages are undeniably beautiful. For the patient reader, The Cantos offers many rewards.

About the Title

Ezra Pound conceived of The Cantos as a modern epic poem and used as one inspiration the 14th-century Italian poet Dante Alighieri's (c. 1265–1321) Divine Comedy (written c. 1308–21), a poem divided into 100 cantos, or sections, that trace the journey of Dante from darkness to light. Pound's poem includes 117 sections, or cantos, although not all are complete.


This study guide for Ezra Pound's The Cantos offers summary and analysis on themes, symbols, and other literary devices found in the text. Explore Course Hero's library of literature materials, including documents and Q&A pairs.

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