“My genius is no more than a girl”: Exploring the Erotic in Pound’s Homage to Sextus Propertius

  • Steven G. Yao


In the introduction, I briefly discussed the treatment of Pound’s Homage to Sextus Propertius as exemplary of the way criticism of Modernist translation has proceeded in large measure along distinctly under-theorized and even ahistorical lines. To expand upon this somewhat more fully: ever since its initial, partial publication in the March 1919 edition of Harriet Monroe’s Poetry, the Homage has elicited a sustained debate over its putative qualities as either an overly “free” distortion or a creatively “faithful” reproduction in English of Sextus Propertius’s original Latin odes. Appearing almost immediately, in the very next issue of Poetry in fact, the first of these denunciations came from the University of Chicago classicist William Gardner Hale, who set the tone for an entire strain of criticism of Pound’s efforts as a translator of Propertius by indicting all of the obvious liberties that the Modernist poet took with the original Latin text in producing his Homage simply as grammatical mistakes. Summarily declaring that “Mr. Pound is incredibly ignorant of Latin,” Hale referred to “about threescore errors” in just the four published sections alone out of the twelve comprising the entire poem. He went on to enumerate several specific “howlers” that he found particularly egregious, and these have become virtually obligatory points of discussion for all subsequent commentators on Pound’s achievement in the Homage. I myself will attempt to address the larger significance of some of these notorious “errors” later in this chapter.


Literary Production Literal Meaning Young Lady Literary Mode Translation Methodology 
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© Steven G. Yao 2002

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  • Steven G. Yao

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