Seafarer Socialism: Pound, The New Age, and Anglo-Medieval Radicalism

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

Journal of Modern Literature

First Page


Last Page




Too often regarded as merely an experiment in language, an effort to bring the harsh alliterative resources of Anglo-Saxon prosody into modern English poetry, Ezra Pound's "The Seafarer" is a far more ideologically complex text than modernist scholars have assumed. When examined in conjunction with medievalist commentary and political reflections written by Pound for the English socialist magazine The New Age between 1911 and 1914, this celebrated Anglo-Saxon translation reveals itself to be not only deeply political but surprisingly socialist in its sympathies. By publishing "The Seafarer" and other writings in this radical publication, Pound affirmed his solidarity with striking English laborers, particularly what was understood to be their patriotic efforts to recover ancient Saxon liberties. He also gave provisional support to an Anglo-medievalist variant of socialism known as guild socialism, thereby establishing that his pre-war politics were more progressive and left-leaning than previously acknowledged.


Version of record can be found through Indiana University Press.