It was a sad day for poetry when Ezra Pound discovered Confucius. Like some latter-day Don Quixote addled by tales of chivalry, Pound became enthralled by Confucian precepts, and though they never had any appreciable influence on his own thoughts or actions—he was the least Confucian of men—those precepts, or his version of them, scrambled his brains for the next sixty years. As A. David Moody tells it in the opening volume of his magisterial biography, the third and final volume of which has now appeared, the encounter came about in October 1913 when Pound first read the Analects in French translation.1 He then moved on to Allen Upward’s The Sayings of Confucius of 1904 and the die was cast. In China Pound believed he had found his “new Greece.” Of...


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