Early Music and the Aesthetics of Ezra Pound Hush of Older Song

Author: Merritt, Robert
The revival of instrumental music composed before Bach was an important cultural event in turn-of-the-century London. Pound's assimilation of some of the aesthetic values of the music of the 16th and 17th centuries formed one of the important bases for his more general critical convictions. Some of the qualities important to Pound's overall aesthetic philosophy also characterize the old music, including: the effect of medium on overall meaning; "impersonality"; concision and small-scale; tension between "fundamental irregularity" and "classicism of surface"; and the moral and intellectual value of sharp distinct form. Pound's studies of the technical foundations of music affected much of his poetic and theoretical work.


". . . Merritt gives us a new perception of the development of some of the most important aesthetic conceptions of modernism. This is original and wide-ranging scholarship which shows great promise. . . .As a contribution to our knowledge of Pound's aesthetics, Merritt's study is very useful. He shows how some of Pound's key poetic principles were rooted in his analysis of the formal character of early music, and thereby helps us to a richer and more precise understanding of these principles." -- John Cawelti