Pound spent some months of 1908 living in Venice and put together his first collection of poems, some of which had been written before he left the USA. He financed the publication himself. Originally, as Pound explains in his dedication, the collection was to be called La Fraisne after one of the main poems in the book. However, he received news of the death of W. B. Smith, a young artist with whom he had had an intense friendship as a student in Philadelphia (referred to in The Cantos as his “first friend”). Pound retitled the collection A Lume Spento, with tapers quenched, in reference to a mourning ceremony mentioned by Dante. He also dedicated the volume to Smith, “Painter, Dreamer of Dreams”.
Wilson, Peter. "A Lume Spento". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 21 March 2003
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