Ezra Pound, Philadelphia Genius, and Modern American Poetry
Created by Laura Aydelotte, the animation on the landing page begins with the printer’s mark of the Aldus Press, one of Europe’s earliest printers in 15th- and 16th-century Venice, Italy. The press was renowned for its beautifully printed early editions of classical texts. Pound refers to the graceful type faces used by Aldus in Canto XXX when he describes the creation of the letters for printing: “this Messire Francesco who hath cut all Aldous his letters/ with such grace and charm as is known.” The symbol of the dolphin wrapped around the anchor, printed by the Aldus family on the books they produced, is associated with the Latin motto “festina lente” or “make haste slowly,” suggesting a temperate golden mean between the symbolic swiftness of the dolphin and the weight of the anchor. In the animation the dolphin frees itself from its anchor in concert with a quote from Pound’s Canto CXVI: “Came Neptunus/ his mind leaping like dolphins/ These concepts the human mind has attained.” During his time at Penn and in Philadelphia, Pound was exposed to the history of literature and culture, to the classics, to the traditions. It was also in this period that he, together with H.D., William Carlos Williams, Marrianne Moore, and others, broke with tradition, carving new pathways, new means of expression, rooted in an understanding of the works that came before, like those printed by Aldus in the 15th century, but leaping, like the dolphin from its anchor, into new territory.
To learn more about Laura's work, visit the Provenance Online Project (POP) website: https://provenanceonlineproject.wordpress.com/