In Italy it is often attributed to Ezra Pound the following quote without source:

la parola comunica il pensiero, il tono le emozioni

It translate more or less to "The word communicates the thought, the tone the emotions".

Is it a correct quote?

1 Answer 1


What Pound said seems to have been:

The perception of the intellect is given in the word, that of the emotions in the cadence.

Is the Italian a good translation? It's hard to say without knowing more about how this phrase is used in Italian. This is a sentence from Pound's introduction to his translation of a book of Guido Calvacanti's poetry, and the full paragraph it appears in is:

As for the verse itself: I believe in an ultimate and absolute rhythm as I believe in an absolute symbol or metaphor. The perception of the intellect is given in the word, that of the emotions in the cadence. It is only, then, in perfect rhythm joined to the perfect word that the two-fold vision can be recorded. I would liken Guido's cadence to nothing less powerful than line in Blake's drawing.

  • You are amazing! The sentence you report is definitely the correct source, the Italian version is a little bit different however. Can I ask you how did you find it? In the meantime I try to figure out if the translation is accurate. Nov 19, 2019 at 21:05
  • The Italian "tono" is not a good translation for cadence. We have a better word, "cadenza". The problem is that "tono" makes one think of the emotional way one speaks, for example assertive or cheerful, while "cadenza" refers to the melody of the sentences. Both terms have their roots in music. Nov 19, 2019 at 21:12
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    Next time I am in an Italian library, I will search for the Italian translation of "The Sonnets and Ballate of Guido Cavalcanti" and update your answer :) Nov 19, 2019 at 21:29
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    How did I find it? I Googled, and found a similar statements by Pound where he associated emotions with rhythm. I think it was I believe in an "absolute rhythm," a rhythm, that is, in poetry which corresponds exactly to the emotion or shade of emotion to be expressed. Then I tried Googling with the word rhythm and managed to find it.
    – Peter Shor
    Nov 20, 2019 at 22:39
  • I am really impressed that you managed given the distance between my poor translation and the original. Nov 20, 2019 at 22:54

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