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Ezra PoundFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopediaJump to navigationJump to searchEzra Weston Loomis Pound(30 October 1885– 1 November 1972) was anexpatriateAmerican poet and critic, a major figure in the earlymodernist poetrymovement, and afascistcollaborator in Italy duringWorld War II. His works includeRipostes(1912),Hugh Selwyn Mauberley(1920), and his 800-pageepic poem,The Cantos(c.1917–1962).[1]

Pound's contribution to poetry began in the early 20th century with his role in developingImagism, a movement stressing precision and economy of language. Working in London as foreign editor of several American literary magazines, he helped discover and shape the work of contemporaries such asT. S. Eliot,Ernest Hemingway, andJames Joyce. He was responsible for the 1914 serialization of Joyce'sA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, the 1915 publication of Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock", and the serialization from 1918 of Joyce'sUlysses. Hemingway wrote in 1932 that, for poets born in the late 19th or early 20th century, not to be influenced by Pound would be "like passing through a great blizzard and not feeling its cold."[a]

Angered by the carnage ofWorld War I, Pound blamed the war onfinance capitalism, which he called "usury".[3]He moved to Italy in 1924 and through the 1930s and 1940s promoted an economic theory known associal credit, wrote for publications owned by the British fascist SirOswald Mosley, embracedBenito Mussolini'sfascism, and expressed support forAdolf Hitler. During World War II and theHolocaust in Italy, he made hundreds of paidradio broadcasts for the Italian government, including inGerman-occupied Italy, attacking the United States,Franklin D. Roosevelt, Great Britain, international finance,munitions makersandmongers, andJews, among others, as causes, abettors and prolongers of the world war, as a result of which he was arrested in 1945 by American forces in Italy on charges oftreason. He spent months in a U.S. military camp inPisa, including three weeks in an outdoor steel cage. Deemed unfit to stand trial, he was incarcerated inSt. Elizabethspsychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., for over 12 years.

While in custody in Italy, Pound began work on sections ofThe Cantos, which were published asThe Pisan Cantos(1948), for which he was awarded theBollingen Prize for Poetryin 1949 by theLibrary of Congress, causing enormous controversy. After a campaign by his fellow writers, he was released from St. Elizabeths in 1958 and lived in Italy until his death in 1972. His economic and political views have ensured that his life and work remain controversial.

ContentsEarly life and education (1885–1908)[edit]Family background[edit]See also:Homer Pound HouseThaddeus Coleman Pound, Pound's paternal grandfather, in the late 1880s

Pound was born in 1885 in a two-storyclapboardhouse inHailey,Idaho Territory, the only child of Homer Loomis Pound (1858–1942) and Isabel Weston (1860–1948),[4]who married in 1884.[5]Homer had worked in Hailey since 1883 as registrar of theGeneral Land Office.[4][6]Pound's grandfather,Thaddeus Coleman Pound, aRepublicanCongressman and the 10thLieutenant Governor of Wisconsin, had secured him the appointment. Homer had previously worked for Thaddeus in the lumber business.[7]

Both sides of Pound's family emigrated from England in the 17th century. On his father's side, the immigrant ancestor was John Pound, aQuakerwho arrived from England around 1650.[5]Ezra's paternal grandmother,Susan Angevine Loomis,[8]married Thaddeus Coleman Pound.[7]On his mother's side, Pound was descended fromWilliam Wadsworth, aPuritanwho emigrated toBostonon theLionin 1632. Captain Joseph Wadsworth helped to write theConnecticut constitution.[9]The Wadsworths married into the Westons of New York; Harding Weston and Mary Parker were Pound's maternal grandparents.[5]After serving in the military, Harding remained unemployed, so his brother Ezra Weston and Ezra's wife, Frances Amelia Wessells Freer (Aunt Frank), helped to look after Isabel, Pound's mother.[10]

Early education[edit]In his Cheltenham Military Academy uniform with his mother, 1898

Isabel Pound was unhappy in Hailey and took Ezra with her to New York in 1887 when he was 18 months old.[11]Her husband followed and found a job as anassayerat thePhiladelphia Mint. After a move to 417 Walnut Street inJenkintown, Pennsylvania, the family bought a six-bedroom house in 1893 at 166 Fernbrook Avenue,Wyncote.[5]Pound's education began indame schools: Miss Elliott's school in Jenkintown in 1892 and the Heathcock family's Chelten Hills School in Wyncote in 1893.[5]Known as "Ra" (pronounced "Ray"), he attended Wyncote Public School from September 1894.[12]His first publication was on 7 November 1896 in theJenkintown Times-Chronicle("by E. L. Pound, Wyncote, aged 11 years"), alimerickaboutWilliam Jennings Bryan, who had just lost the1896 presidential election.[b]

In 1897, aged 12, he transferred to Cheltenham Military Academy (CMA), where he wore anAmerican Civil War-styleuniform and was taught drilling and how to shoot.[14]The following year he made his first trip overseas, a three-month tour with his mother and Aunt Frank, who took him to England, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, Spain, and Morocco.[15]He attended CMA until 1900, at times as a boarder, but it seems he did not Doolittle, c.1921

In 1901 Pound was admitted, aged 15, to theUniversity of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal Arts.[18]Years later he said his aim was to avoid drill at the military academy.[19]His one distinction in first year was in geometry,[20]but otherwise his grades were mostly poor, including in Latin, his major; he achieved a B in English composition and a pass in English literature.[21]In his second year he switched from the degree course to "non-degree special student status", he said "to avoid irrelevant subjects".[22][d]He was not elected to afraternityat Penn, but it seemed not to bother him.[24]

His parents and Aunt Frank took him on another three-month European tour in 1902, and the following year he transferred toHamilton CollegeinClinton, New York, possibly because of his grades.[25]Again he was not invited to join a fraternity, but this time he had hoped to do so, according to letters home, because he wanted to live in afraternity house, and by April 1904 he regarded the move as a mistake.[26]Signed up for the Latin–Scientific course, he appears to have avoided some classes; his transcript is short of credits.[25]He studied theProvençal dialectand readDanteandAnglo-Saxon poetry, includingBeowulfandThe Seafarer.[27]

After graduating from Hamilton in 1905 with aPhB, he returned to Penn, where he fell in love with Hilda Doolittle, then atBryn Mawr College, and hand-bound 25 of his poems for her, calling itHilda's Book. (Doolittle became a poet herself, renamedH.D.by Pound.)[28]After receiving his MA inRomance languagesin 1906, he registered to write a PhD thesis on thejestersinLope de Vega's plays; a two-year Harrison fellowship covered his tuition and a $500 grant, with which he sailed again to Europe.[29]He spent three weeks in Madrid in various libraries, including in theRoyal Library. On 31 May 1906 he was standing outside the palace during theattempted assassinationofKing Alfonsoand left the city for fear of being mistaken for an anarchist.[30]After Spain he visited Paris and London, returning to the United States in July 1906.[31]His first essay, "Raphaelite Latin", was published in theBook News Monthlythat September.[32]He took courses in English in 1907, where he fell out with just about everyone, including the department head,Felix Schelling, with silly remarks during lectures and by winding an enormous tin watch very slowly while Schelling spoke.[33]In the spring of 1907 he learned that his fellowship would not be renewed.[34]Schelling told him he was wasting everyone's time, and he left without finishing his doctorate.[35]

Teaching[edit]In Durance

I am homesick after mine own kind,
Oh I know that there are folk about me, friendly faces,
But I am homesick after mine own kind.

—Personae of Ezra Pound(1909)[36]
written in Crawfordsville, Indiana, 1907[37]

From September 1907 Pound taught French and Spanish atWabash College,[38]aPresbyteriancollege with 345 students inCrawfordsville, Indiana,[39]which he called "thesixth circle of hell".[40]One former student remembered him as a breath of fresh air; another said he was "exhibitionist, egotistic, self-centered and self-indulgent".[41]

He was dismissed after a few months. Smoking was forofferden, but he would smokecigarillosin his room in the same corridor as the president's office.[42]He was asked to leave the college in January 1908 when his landladies, Ida and Belle Hall, found a woman in his room.[43]Shocked at having been fired,[44]he left for Europe soon after, sailing from New York in March on theRMSSlavonia.[45]

London (1908–1914)[edit]A Lume Spento[edit]

Pound arrived inGibraltaron 23 March 1908, where he earned $15 a day working as a guide for an American family there and in Spain.[46]After stops in Seville, Grenada, and Genoa, by the end of April he was inVenice, living over a bakery near the San Vio bridge.[47]In the summer he decided to self-publish his first collection of 44 poems in the 72-pageA Lume Spento("With Tapers Quenched"), 150 copies of which were printed in July 1908.[48]The title is from the third canto ofDante'sPurgatorio, alluding to the death ofManfred, King of Sicily. Pound dedicated the book to the Philadelphia artistWilliam Brooke Smith, a friend from university who had recently died oftuberculosis.[49]

In "Canto LXXVI" ofThe Pisan Cantos, he records that he considered throwing the proofs into theGrand Canal, abandoning the book and poetry altogether: "by the soap-smooth stone posts where San Vio / meets with il Canal Grande / between Salviati and the house that was of Don Carlos / shd/I chuck the lot into the tide-water? /le bozze"A Lume Spento"/ / and by the column of Todero / shd/I shift to the other side / or wait 24 hours".[50]

Move to London[edit]48 Langham Street,Fitzrovia, London W1

In August 1908 Pound moved to London, carrying 60 copies ofA Lume Spento.[51]English poets such asMaurice Hewlett,Rudyard Kipling, andAlfred Tennysonhad made a particular kind ofVictorianverse—stirring, pompous, and propagandistic—popular. According to modernist scholar James Knapp, Pound rejected the idea of poetry as "versified moral essay"; he wanted to focus on the individual experience, the concrete rather than the abstract.[52]

Pound at first stayed in a boarding house at 8 Duchess Street, near theBritish Museum Reading Room; he had met the landlady during his travels in Europe in 1906.[53]He soon moved toIslington(cheaper at12s 6da weekboard and lodging), but his father sent him £4 and he was able to move back into central London, to 48 Langham Street, nearGreat Titchfield Street.[54]The house sat across an alley from the Yorkshire Grey pub, which made an appearance in "Canto LXXX" (The Pisan Cantos), "concerning the landlady'sdoings/ with a lodger unnamed / az waz near Gt Tichfield St. next door to the pub".[55]

Pound persuaded the booksellerElkin MathewsonVigo Streetto displayA Lume Spento, and in an unsigned article on 26 November 1908, Pound reviewed it himself in theEvening Standard: "The unseizable magic of poetry is in this queer paper book; and words are no good in describing it."[56]The following month he self-published a second collection,A Quinzaine for this Yule.[57]It was his first book to have commercial success, and Elkin Matthews had another 100 copies printed.[58]In January and February 1909, after the death ofJohn Churton Collinsleft a vacancy, Pound lectured for an hour a week in the evenings on "The Development of Literature in Southern Europe" at theRegent Street Polytechnic.[59][e]Mornings might be spent in the British Museum Reading Room, followed by lunch at theVienna CaféonOxford Street, where Pound first metWyndham Lewisin 1910.[61]"There were mysterious figures / that emerged from recondite recesses / and ate at the WIENER CAFÉ".[62]Ford Madox Forddescribed Pound as "approach[ing] with the step of a dancer, making passes with a cane at an imaginary opponent":

He would wear trousers made of green billiard cloth, a pink coat, a blue shirt, a tie hand-painted by a Japanese friend, an immense sombrero, a flaming beard cut to a point, and a single, large blue earring."[63]

Meeting Dorothy Shakespear,Personae[edit]Pound marriedDorothy Shakespearin 1914.

At a literarysalonin 1909, Pound met the novelistOlivia Shakespear[64]and later at the Shakespears' home at 12 Brunswick Gardens, Kensington, was introduced to her daughter,Dorothy, who became Pound's wife in 1914.[65]The criticIris Barrydescribed her as "carrying herself delicately with the air, always, of a young Victorian lady out skating, and a profile as clear and lovely as that of a porcelain Kuan-yin".[66]"Listen to it—Ezra! Ezra!—And a third time—Ezra!", Dorothy wrote in her diary on 16 February 1909.[67]

Pound mixed with the cream of London's literary circle, includingMaurice Hewlett,Laurence Binyon,Frederic Manning,Ernest Rhys,May Sinclair,Ellen Terry,George Bernard Shaw,Hilaire Belloc,T. E. Hulme, andF. S. Flint.[68]Through the Shakespears, he was introduced to the poetW. B. Yeats, Olivia Shakespear's former lover. He had already sent Yeats a copy ofA Lume Spento, and Yeats had apparently found it "charming".[69]Pound wrote toWilliam Carlos Williamson 3 February 1909: "Am by way of falling into the crowd that does things here. London, deah old Lundon, is the place for poesy."[70]According toRichard Aldington, London found Pound amusing. The newspapers interviewed him,[71]and he was mentioned inPunchmagazine, which on 23 June 1909 described "Mr. Ezekiel Ton" as "the most remarkable thing in poetry sinceRobert Browning... [blending] the imagery of the unfettered West, the vocabulary ofWardour Street, and the sinister abandon of Borgiac Italy".[72]

Erat Hora

"Thank you, whatever comes." And then she turned
And, as the ray of sun on hanging flowers
Fades when the wind hath lifted them aside,
Went swiftly from me. Nay, whatever comes
One hour was sunlit and the most high gods
May not make boast of any better thing
Than to have watched that hour as it passed.

—Personae: The Collected Poems of Ezra Pound(1926)[73]

In April 1909 Elkin Mathews publishedPersonae of Ezra Pound(half the poems were fromA Lume Spento)[58][f]and in October a further 27 poems (16 new) asExultations.[76]Edward ThomasdescribedPersonaeinEnglish Reviewas "full of human passion and natural magic".[77]Rupert Brookecomplained in theCambridge Reviewthat Pound had fallen under the influence ofWalt Whitman, writing in "unmetrical sprawling lengths that, in his hands, have nothing to commend them". But he did acknowledge that Pound had "great talents".[78]

In or around September, Pound moved into new rooms at Church Walk, offKensington High Street, where he lived most of the time until 1914.[79]He visited a friend,Walter Rummel, in Paris in March 1910 and was introduced to the American heiress and pianist Margaret Lanier Cravens. Although they had only just met, she offered to become a patron to the tune of $1,000 a year, and from then until her death in 1912 she apparently sent him money regularly.[80]

The Spirit of Romance,Canzoni, theNew Age[edit]

In June 1910 Pound returned for eight months to the United States; his arrival coincided with the publication in London of his first book of literary criticism,The Spirit of Romance, based on his lecture notes from the polytechnic.[81]Patria Mia, his essays on the United States, were written at this time.[82]In August he moved to New York, renting rooms onWaverly PlaceandPark Avenue South, facingGramercy Square.[83]Although he loved New York, he felt alienated by the commercialism and newcomers from Eastern and Southern Europe who were displacing the white Anglo-Saxon Protestants.[84]The recently builtNew York Public Library Main Branchhe found especially offensive.[85]It was during this period that his antisemitism became apparent; he referred inPatria Miato the "detestable qualities" of Jews.[86]After persuading his parents to finance his passage back to Europe, he sailed from New York on theR.M.S.Mauretaniaon 22 February 1911. It was nearly 30 years—April 1939—before he visited the U.S. again.[87]

First floor of theVienna Caféwith its mirrored ceiling,Oxford Street, in 1897. The room became a meeting place for Pound,Wyndham Lewis, and other writers.

After three days in London he went to Paris,[88]where he worked on a new collection of poetry,Canzoni(1911),[89]panned by theWestminster Gazetteas "affectation combined with pedantry".[90]He wrote in Ford Madox Ford's obituary that Ford had rolled on the floor with laughter at its "stilted language".[91]When he returned to London in August, he rented a room inMaryleboneat 2A Granville Place, then shared a house at 39Addison Road North,W11.[92]By NovemberA. R. Orage, editor of the socialist journal theNew Age,had hired him to write a weekly column.[93]Orage appears inThe Cantos(Possumis T.S.Eliot): "but the lot of 'em, Yeats, Possum and Wyndham / had no ground beneath 'em. / Orage had."[94]

Pound contributed to theNew Agefrom 30 November 1911 to 13 January 1921,[95]attending editorial meetings in the basement of a grimyABC tearoominChancery Lane.[96]There and at other meetings he metArnold Bennett,Cecil Chesterton,Beatrice Hastings,S. G. Hobson,T. E. Hulme,Katherine Mansfield, andH. G. Wells.[95]In theNew Ageoffice in 1918, he also metC. H. Douglas, a British engineer who was developing his economic theory ofsocial credit, which Pound found attractive.[97]Douglas reportedly believed that Jews were a problem and needed to abandon aMessianicview of themselves as the "dominating race".[98]According toColin Holmes, theNew Ageitself published antisemitic material.[99]It was within this environment, not in Italy, according toTim Redman, that Pound first encountered antisemitic ideas about "usury".[95]"In Douglas's program,"Christopher Hitchenswrote in 2008, "Pound had found his true muse: a blend of folkloric Celtic twilight with a paranoid hatred of the money economy and a dire suspicion about an ancient Imagism[edit]10 Church Walk,Kensington, London W8. Pound lived on the first floor (far left) in 1909–1910 and 1911–1914.[g]

Hilda Doolittlearrived in London from Philadelphia in May 1911 with the poet Frances Gregg and Gregg's mother; when they returned in September, Doolittle stayed on. Pound introduced her to his friends, includingRichard Aldington, who became her husband in 1913. Before that, the three of them lived in Church Walk, Kensington—Pound at no. 10, Aldington at no. 8, and Doolittle at no. 6—and worked daily in the British Museum Reading Room.[79]

At the British Museum, Laurence Binyon introduced Pound to the East Asian artistic and literary concepts Pound used in his later poetry, including Japaneseukiyo-eprints.[103]The visitors' book first shows Pound in the Prints and Drawings Students' Room (known as the Print Room)[104]on 9 February 1909, and later in 1912 and 1913, with Dorothy Shakespear, examining Chinese and Japanese art.[105]Pound was working at the time on the poems that becameRipostes(1912), trying to move away from his earlier work.[106]"I hadn't in 1910 made a language," he wrote years later. "I don't mean a language to use, but even a language to think in."[h]

In August 1912Harriet Monroehired Pound as foreign correspondent ofPoetry: A Magazine of Verse, a new magazine in Chicago.[108]The first edition, in October, featured two of his own poems, "To Whistler, American" and "Middle Aged". Also that month Stephen Swift and Co. in London publishedRipostes of Ezra Pound, a collection of 25 poems, including a contentious translation of the 8th-centuryOld EnglishpoemThe Seafarer,[109]that demonstrate his shift toward minimalist language.[79]In addition to Pound's work, the collection contains five poems byT. E. Hulme.[110]

First edition ofPoetry, October 1912

Ripostesincludes the first mention ofLes Imagistes: "As for the future,Les Imagistes, the descendants of the forgotten school of 1909, have that in their keeping."[111]While in the British Museum tearoom one afternoon with Doolittle and Aldington, Pound edited one of Doolittle's poems and wrote "H.D. Imagiste" underneath;[112]he described this later as the founding of a movement in poetry,Imagisme.[113][i]In the spring or early summer of 1912, they agreed, Pound wrote in 1918, on three principles:

1. Direct treatment of the "thing" whether subjective or objective.

2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation.

3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of the musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome.[115]

Poetrypublished Pound's "A Few Don'ts by an Imagist" in March 1913. Superfluous words, particularly adjectives, should be avoided, as well as expressions like "dim lands of peace". He wrote: "It dulls the image. It mixes an abstraction with the concrete. It comes from the writer's not realizing that the natural object is always theadequatesymbol." Poets should "go in fear of abstractions".[116]He wanted Imagisme "to stand for hard light, clear edges", he wrote later toAmy Lowell.[117]

In a Station of the Metro

The apparition of these faces in the crowd:
Petals on a wet, black bough.

—Poetry(April 1913)[118]

An example of Imagist poetry is Pound's "In a Station of the Metro", published inPoetryin April 1913 and inspired by an experience on theParis Underground. "I got out of a train at, I think,La Concorde," he wrote in "How I began" inT. P.'s Weeklyon 6 June 1913, "and in the jostle I saw a beautiful face, and then, turning suddenly, another and another, and then a beautiful child's face, and then another beautiful face. All that day I tried to find words for what this made me feel.... I could get nothing but spots of colour." A year later he reduced it to its essence in the style of a Japanesehaiku.[119]

James Joyce, Pound's unpopularity[edit]James Joyce, c. 1918

In the summer of 1913 Pound became literary editor ofThe Egoist, a journal founded by thesuffragetteDora Marsden.[120]At the suggestion ofW. B. Yeats, Pound encouragedJames Joycein December of that year to submit his work.[121]The previous month Yeats, whose eyesight was failing, had rented Stone Cottage inColeman's Hatch, Sussex, inviting Pound to accompany him as his secretary, and it was during this visit that Yeats introduced Pound to Joyce'sChamber Musicand his "I hear an Army Charging Upon the Land".[122]This was the first of three winters Pound and Yeats spent at Stone Cottage, including two with Dorothy after she and Ezra married in 1914.[123]"Canto LXXXIII" records a visit: "so that I recalled the noise in the chimney / as it were the wind in the chimney / but was in realityUncle William/ downstairs composing / that had made a great Peeeeacock / in the proide ov his oiye."[124][j]

In his reply to Pound, Joyce gave permission to use "I hear an Army" and enclosedDublinersand the first chapter of his novelA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.[122]Pound wrote to Joyce that the novel was "damn fine stuff".[125]Harriet Shaw Weaveraccepted it forThe Egoist, which serialized it from 2 February 1914, despite the printers objecting to words like "fart" and "ballocks", and fearing prosecution overStephen Dedalus's thoughts about prostitutes. On the basis of the serialization, the publisher that had rejectedDublinersreconsidered. Joyce wrote to Yeats: "I can never thank you enough for having brought me into relation with your friend Ezra Pound who is indeed a miracle worker."[126]

Around this time, Pound's articles in theNew Agebegan to make him unpopular, to the alarm of Orage.[127]Samuel Putnamknew Pound in Paris in the 1920s and described him as stubborn, contrary, cantankerous, bossy, touchy, and "devoid of humor"; he was "an American small-towner", in Putnam's view. His attitude caused him trouble in both London and Paris.[128]English women, with their "preponderantly derivative" minds, were inferior to American women who had minds of their own, he wrote in theNew Age. The English sense of what was right was based on respect for property, not morality. "[P]erched on the rotten shell of a crumbling empire", London had lost its energy. England's best authors—Conrad,Hudson,James, and Yeats—were not English. English writers and critics were ignorant, he wrote in 1913.[129]


Ezra and Dorothy were married on 20 April 1914 atSt Mary Abbotsin Kensington,[130]the Shakespears' parish church, despite opposition from her parents, who worried about Ezra's income. His concession to marry in church had helped. Dorothy's annual income was £50, with another £150 from her family,[131]and Ezra's was £200.[132]Her father, Henry Hope Shakespear, had him prepare a financial statement in 1911, which showed that his main source of income was his father.[133]After the wedding the couple moved into an apartment with no bathroom at 5 Holland Place Chambers, Kensington, next door to the newly wed H.D. and Aldington.[131]This arrangement did not last. H.D. had been alarmed to find Ezra looking for a place to live outside the apartment building the day before his wedding. Once Dorothy and Ezra had moved into the building, Ezra would arrive unannounced at H.D.'s to discuss his writing, a habit that upset her, in part because his writing touched on private aspects of their relationship. She and Aldington decided to move several miles away toHampstead.[134]

Des Imagistes, dispute with Amy Lowell[edit]Pound byWyndham Lewis, 1919. The portrait is lost.

The appearance ofDes Imagistes, An Anthology(1914), edited by Pound, "confirmed the importance" ofImagisme, according toIra Nadel.[135]Published in the American magazineThe Glebein February 1914 and the following month as a book, it was the first of five Imagist anthologies and the only one to contain work by Pound.[136]It included ten poems byRichard Aldington, seven byH. D., followed byF. S. Flint,Skipwith Cannell,Amy Lowell,William Carlos Williams,James Joyce("I Hear an Army", not an example of Imagism), six by Pound, thenFord Madox Hueffer(as he was known as the time),Allen UpwardandJohn Cournos.[137]

Shortly after its publication, an advertisement forWyndham Lewis's new magazine,Blastpromised it would cover "Cubism, Futurism, Imagisme and all Vital Forms of Modern Art"; in the end,Blastwas published only twice, in 1914 and 1915. Pound extendedImagismeto art, naming itVorticism.[k]In June 1914The Timesannounced Lewis's new Rebel Arts Centre for Vorticist art at 38Great Ormond Street.[140]

The New England poetAmy Lowell, who was to win thePulitzer Prize for Poetryin 1926, was apparently unhappy that only one of her poems had appeared inDes Imagistes. She arrived in London in July 1914 to attend two dinners at the Dieudonné restaurant in Ryder Street, the first to celebrate the publication ofBlastand the second, on 17 July, the publication ofDes Imagistes. At the second, Ford Madox Hueffer announced that he had been an Imagiste long before Lowell and Pound, and that he doubted their qualifications; only Aldington and H.D. could lay claim to the title, in his view. During the subsequent row, Pound left the table and returned with a tin bathtub on his head, suggesting it as a symbol of what he calledLes Nagistes, a school created by Lowell's poem "In a Garden", which ends with "Night, and the water, and you in your whiteness, bathing!" Apparently his behavior helped Lowell win people over to her point of view, as did her offer to fund future work.[141]

H.D. and Aldington were moving away from Pound's understanding ofImagismeanyway, as he aligned himself with Lewis's ideas.[142]Lowell agreed to finance an annual anthology ofImagistepoets, but she insisted on democracy; according to Aldington, she "proposed aBoston Tea Partyfor Ezra" and an end to his despotic rule.[143]Upset at Lowell, Pound began to callImagisme"Amygism";[144]he declared the movement dead and asked the group not to call themselvesImagistes. Not accepting that it was Pound's invention, they refused and Anglicized the term.[145]

World War I and leaving England (1914–1921)[edit]Meeting Eliot,Cathay, translation[edit]Further information:United Kingdom declaration of war upon Germany (1914)andLost GenerationT. S. Eliot, 1923

When war was declared in August 1914, opportunities for writers were immediately reduced; poems were now expected to be patriotic.[146]Pound's income from October 1914 to October 1915 was £42.10.0,[147]apparently five times less than the year before.[148]

On 22 September 1914T. S. Eliottraveled fromMerton College, Oxford, with an introduction fromConrad Aiken, to have Pound read Eliot's unpublished "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".[149]Pound wrote to Harriet Monroe, editor ofPoetry, on 30 September to say that Eliot—who was at Oxford on a fellowship fromHarvard—had "sent in the best poem I have yet had or seen from an American... He has actually trained himselfandmodernized himselfon his own."[150]Monroe did not like Prufrock's "very European world-weariness", according toHumphrey Carpenter, but she published it anyway, in June 1915.[151]

The River Merchant's Wife:
A Letter

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.At fifteen, I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the look out?

—"The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter" byLi Bai, translated inCathay(1915)[152]

Pound'sCathay, published in April 1915, contains 25 examples ofClassical Chinese poetrythat Pound translated into English based on the notes of theOrientalistErnest Fenollosa. Fenollosa's widow,Mary McNeill Fenollosa, had given Pound her husband's notes in 1913,[153]after Laurence Binyon introduced them.[154]Michael AlexandersawCathayas the most attractive of Pound's work.[155]There is a debate about whether the poems should be viewed primarily as translations or as contributions to Imagism and the modernization of English poetry.[156]English professor Steven Yao argued thatCathayshows that translation does not need a thorough knowledge of the source language.[l]

Pound's translations from Old English, Latin, Italian, French and Chinese were highly disputed. According to Alexander, they made him more unpopular in some circles than the treason charge.[159]Robert Graveswrote in 1955: "[Pound] knew little Latin, yet he translated Propertius; and less Greek, but he translated Alcaeus; and still less Anglo-Saxon, yet he translatedThe Seafarer. I once askedArthur Waleyhow much Chinese Pound knew; Waley shook his head despondently."[160]

Pound was devastated whenHenri Gaudier-Brzeska, from whom he had commissioneda sculpture of himselftwo years earlier, was killed in the trenches in June 1915. In response, he publishedGaudier-Brzeska: A Memoir(1916), writing "A great spirit has been among us, and a great artist has gone."[161]Two months before he died, Gaudier-Brzeska had written to Pound to say that he keptCathayin his pocket "to put courage in my fellows".[162]

"Three Cantos", resignation fromPoetry[edit]

After the publication ofCathay, Pound mentioned that he was working on a long poem. He described it in September 1915 as a "cryselephantine poem of immeasurable length which will occupy me for the next four decades unless it becomes a bore".[163]In February 1916, when Pound was 30, the poetCarl Sandburgpaid tribute to him inPoetrymagazine. Pound "stains darkly and touches softly", he wrote:

Pound byE. O. Hoppéon the cover ofPavannes and Divisions(1918)

All talk on modern poetry, by people who know, ends with dragging in Ezra Pound somewhere. He may be named only to be cursed as wanton and mocker, poseur, trifler and vagrant. Or he may be classed as filling a niche today like that of Keats in a preceding epoch. The point is, he will be mentioned....

In the cool and purple meantime, Pound goes ahead producing new poems having the slogan, "Guts and Efficiency," emblazoned above his daily program of work. His genius runs to various schools and styles. He acquires traits and then throws them away. One characteristic is that he has no characteristics. He is a new roamer of the beautiful, a new fetcher of wild shapes, in each new handful of writings offered us.[164]

In June, July and August 1917 Pound had the first three cantos published, as "Three Cantos", inPoetry.[165][166]He was now a regular contributor to three literary magazines. From 1917 he wrote music reviews for theNew Ageas William Atheling and art reviews as B.H.Dias.[167]In May 1917Margaret Andersonhired him as foreign editor of theLittle Review.[168]He also wrote weekly pieces forThe Egoistand theLittle Review; many of the latter complained about provincialism, which included the ringing of church bells.[169](When Pound lived nearSt Mary Abbotschurch in Kensington, he had "engaged in a fierce, guerrilla warfare of letters" about the bells with the vicar, Reverend R. E. Pennefather, according to Richard Aldington.)[170]The volume of writing exhausted him.[171]In 1918, after a bout of illness which was presumably theSpanish flu,[172]he decided to stop writing for theLittle Review. He had asked the publisher for a raise to hire a typist, the 23-year-oldIseult Gonne, causing rumors that they were having an affair, but he was turned down.[173]

And the days are not full enough

And the days are not full enough
And the nights are not full enough
And life slips by like a field mouse
Not shaking the grass.


A suspicion arose in June 1918 that Pound himself had written an article inThe Egoistpraising his own work, and it was clear from the response that he had acquired enemies. The poetF. S. FlinttoldThe Egoist'seditor that "we are all tired of Mr. Pound". British literary circles were "tired of his antics" and of him "puffing and swelling himself and his friends", Flint wrote. "His work has deteriorated from book to book; his manners have become more and more offensive; and we wish he would go back to America."[175]

The March 1919 issue ofPoetrypublished Pound'sPoems from the Propertius Series,[176]which appeared to be a translation of the Latin poetSextus Propertius.[m]Harriet Monroe, editor ofPoetry, published a letter in April 1919 from a professor of Latin,W. G. Hale, who found "about three-score errors" in the text; he said Pound was "incredibly ignorant of Latin", that "much of what he makes his author say is unintelligible", and that "If Mr. Pound were a professor of Latin, there would be nothing left for him but suicide" (adding "I do not counsel this").[177]Pound replied to Monroe: "Cat-piss and porcupines!! The thing is no more a translation than my 'Altaforte' is a translation, or thanFitzgerald'sOmaris a translation." His letter ended "In final commiseration". Monroe interpreted his silence after that as his resignation fromPoetrymagazine.[178]

Hugh Selwyn Mauberley[edit]Further information:Hugh Selwyn MauberleyandWikisource:Hugh Selwyn MauberleyHugh Selwyn MauberleyPound readingMauberley, Washington, D.C., June 1958OR three years, out of key with his time,

He strove to resuscitate the dead art
Of poetry; to maintain "the sublime"
In the old sense. Wrong from the start—No hardly, but, seeing he had been born
In a half savage country, out of date;
Bent resolutely on wringing lilies from the acorn;
Capaneus; trout for factitious bait;Ἴδμεν γάρ τοι πάνθ', ὅσ 'ένι Τροίη[n]
Caught in the unstopped ear;
Giving the rocks small lee-way
The chopped seas held him, therefore, that year.

—Hugh Selwyn Mauberley(1920)[180]

By 1919 Pound felt there was no reason to stay in England. He had become "violently hostile" to England, according toRichard Aldington,[181]feeling he was being "frozen out of everything" except theNew Age,[182]and concluding that the British were insensitive to "mental agility in any and every form".[183]He had "muffed his chances of becoming literary director of London—to which he undoubtedly aspired," Aldington wrote in 1941, "by his own enormous conceit, folly, and bad manners."[181]

Published byJohn Rodker's The Ovid Press in June 1920,[184]Pound's poemHugh Selwyn Mauberleymarked his farewell to London, and by December the Pounds were subletting their apartment and preparing to move to France.[185]Consisting of 18 short parts,Mauberleydescribes a poet whose life has become sterile and meaningless. It begins with a satirical analysis of the London literary scene before turning to social criticism, economics, and the war. Here the wordusuryfirst appears in his work. Just as Eliot denied he was Prufrock, Pound denied he was Mauberley.[186]In 1932 the criticF. R. Leavis, then director of studies in English atDowning College, Cambridge, calledMauberley"great poetry, at once traditional and original. Mr. Pound's standing as a poet rests on it, and rests securely".[187]

On 13 January 1921 Orage wrote in theNew Age: "Mr. Pound has shaken the dust of London from his feet with not too emphatic a gesture of disgust, but, at least, without gratitude to this country.... [He] has been an exhilarating influence for culture in England; he has left his mark upon more than one of the arts, upon literature, music, poetry and sculpture; and quite a number of men and movements owe their initiation to his self-sacrificing stimulus..."[188]

With all this, however, Mr. Pound, like so many others who have striven for advancement of intelligence and culture in England, has made more enemies than friends, and far more powerful enemies than friends. Much of the Press has been deliberately closed by cabal to him; his books have for some time been ignored or written down; and he himself has been compelled to live on much less than would support a navvy. His fate, as I have said, is not unusual... Taken by and large, England hates men of culture until they are dead.[188][o]

Paris (1921–1924)[edit]Meeting Hemingway, editingThe Waste Land[edit]Pound's passport photograph, c.1919[102]

The Pounds settled in Paris around April 1921 and in December moved to an inexpensive ground-floor apartment at 70bisRue Notre-Dame-des-Champs.[190]Pound became friendly withMarcel Duchamp,Fernand Léger,Tristan Tzara, and others of theDadaandSurrealistmovements, as well asBasil Bunting.[191]He was introduced to the American writerGertrude Stein, who was living in Paris. She wrote years later that she liked him but did not find him amusing; he was "a village explainer, excellent if you were a village, but if you were not, not".[192]

Pound's collectionPoems 1918–1921was published in New York by Boni and Liveright in 1921. In December that yearErnest Hemingway, then aged 22, moved to Paris with his wife,Hadley Richardson, and letters of introduction fromSherwood Anderson.[193]In February 1922 the Hemingways visited the Pounds for tea.[194]Although Pound was 14 years older, the men became friends; Hemingway assumed the status of pupil and asked Pound toedithis short stories.[195]Pound introduced him to his contacts, including Lewis, Ford,John Peale Bishop,Malcolm Cowley, andDerek Patmore, while Hemingway tried to teach Pound to box.[196]Unlike Hemingway, Pound was not a drinker and preferred to spend his time insalons[197]or building furniture for his apartment and bookshelves forSylvia Beach'sShakespeare and Companybookstore.[198]

Olga Rudge, 1920

Eliot sent Pound the manuscript ofThe Waste Landin 1922. Pound edited it with comments like "make up yr. mind",[198]and reduced it by about half. Eliot wrote in 1946: "I should like to think that the manuscript, with the suppressed passages, had disappeared irrecoverably; yet, on the other hand, I should wish the blue pencilling on it to be preserved as irrefutable evidence of Pound's critical genius."[199]His dedication inThe Waste Landwas "For Ezra Pound /il miglior fabbro" (the "better craftsman"), from Canto 26 of Dante'sPurgatorio.[200]

Meeting Olga Rudge[edit]

Pound was 36 when he met the 26-year-old American violinistOlga Rudgein Paris in the summer of 1922.[201]They were introduced at a salon hosted by the American heiressNatalie Barneyat her 300-year-old house at 20 Rue Jacob, near theBoulevard Saint-Germain.[202]The two moved in different social circles: Rudge was the daughter of a wealthyYoungstown, Ohio, steel family, living in her mother's Parisian apartment on theRight Bank, socializing with aristocrats, while Pound's friends were mostly impoverished writers of theLeft Bank.[203]

RestartingThe Cantos[edit]Main article:The CantosFurther information:List of cultural references in The Cantos

Twice the length ofParadise Lostand 50 times longer thanThe Waste Land, Pound's 800-pageThe Cantos("Canto I" to "Canto CXVI", c.1917–1962) became his life's work.[p]His obituary inThe Timesdescribed it as not a great poem, because of the lack of structure, but a great improvisation: "[T]he exasperating form permits the occasional, and in the earlyCantosand inThe Pisan Cantosnot so occasional, irruption of passages of great poetry, hot and burning lava breaking through the cracks in piles of boringscree."[205]

Canto CXVI

I have brought the great ball of crystal;
Who can lift it?
Can you enter the great acorn of light?
But the beauty is not the madness
Tho' my errors and wrecks lie about me.
And I am not a demigod,[q]
I cannot make it cohere.

—Paris Review, 1962[r]

The first threecantoshad been published inPoetrymagazine in June, July, and August 1917,[165]but in 1922 Pound abandoned most of his work and began again.[207]The early cantos, the "Ur-Cantos", became "Canto I" of the new work.[208]In letters to his father in 1924 and 1927, Pound saidThe Cantoswas like the medley of voices you hear when you turn the radio dial,[s]and "[r]ather like or unlike subject and response and counter subject infugue":

A.A. Live man goes down into world of Dead.C.B. The 'repeat in history'.B.C. The 'magic moment' or moment of metamorphosis, bust thru from quotidien into 'divine or permanent world.' Gods., etc.[210]

Alluding to American, European and Oriental art, history and literature, the work is also autobiographical.[211]In the view of Pound scholar Carroll F. Terrell, it is a great religious poem, describing humanity's journey from hell to paradise, a "revelation of how divinity is manifested in the universe... the kind of intelligence that makes the cherrystone become a cherry tree."[212]The poetAllen Tateargued in 1949 that it is "about nothing at all... a voice but no subject".[213]Responding toA Draft of XXX Cantos(1930),F. R. Leaviscriticized its "lack of form, grammar, principle and direction".[214]The lack of form became a common criticism.[215][t]Pound wrote in the final complete canto, "Canto CXVI" (116, first published in theParis Reviewin 1962), that he could not "make it cohere",[217]although a few lines later, referring to the universe: "it coheres all right / even if my notes do not cohere."[218]According to Pound scholar Walter Baumann, thedemigodof "Canto CXVI"—"And I am not a demigod"—isHeraclesofSophocles'Women of Trachis(450–425 BCE), who exclaims before he dies (based on Pound's translation): "SPLENDOUR, / IT ALL COHERES".[q]"Canto CXVI" ends with the lines "a little light, like arushlight/ to lead back to splendour."[220]

Italy (1924–1939)[edit]Birth of the children[edit]

The Pounds were unhappy in Paris. Dorothy complained about the winters and Ezra's health was poor.[221]At one dinner in thePlace de l'Odéon, aSurrealistguest high on drugs had tried to stab Pound in the back;Robert McAlmonhad wrestled with the attacker, and the guests had managed to leave before the police arrived.[222]For Pound the event underlined that their time in France was over.[223]They decided to move to a quieter place, leaving in October 1924 for the seaside town ofRapalloin northern Italy.[224]Hemingway wrote in a letter that Pound had "indulged in a small nervous breakdown" during the packing, leading to two days at theAmerican Hospital of ParisinNeuilly.[225]During this period the Pounds lived on Dorothy's income, supplemented by dividends from stock she had invested in.[226]

Olga Rudge's home in Venice, from 1928, at Calle Querini 252. The plaque can be translated as: Without ever stopping loving Venice, Ezra Pound, titan of poetry, lived in this house for half a century.

Pregnant by Pound, Olga Rudge followed the couple to Italy, and in July 1925 she gave birth to a daughter,Maria, in a hospital inBrixen. Rudge and Pound placed the baby with a German-speaking peasant woman inGais, South Tyrol, whose own child had died and who agreed to raise Maria for 200 lire a month.[227]Pound reportedly believed that artists ought not to have children, because in his view motherhood ruined women. According toHadley Richardson, he took her aside before she and Hemingway left Paris for Toronto to have their child, telling her: "Well, I might as well say goodbye to you here and now because [the baby] is going to change you completely."[228]

At the end of December 1925 Dorothy went on holiday to Egypt, returning on 1 March,[229]and in May the Pounds and Olga Rudge left Rapallo for Paris to attend a semi-private concert performance at theSalle PleyelofLe Testament de Villon, a one-act opera Pound had composed ("nearly tuneless", according to Carpenter) with the musicians Agnes Bedford andGeorge Antheil.[230][u]Pound had hired two singers for the performance; Rudge was on violin, Pound played percussion, and Joyce, Eliot and Hemingway were in the audience.[232]

The couple stayed on in Paris after the performance; Dorothy was pregnant and wanted the baby to be born at the American hospital. Hemingway accompanied her there in a taxi for the birth of a son,Omar Pound, on 10 September 1926.[233](Ezra was an admirer ofFitzgerald's translation ofOmar Khayyam.)[234]Ezra signed the birth certificate the following day at Neuilly town hall and wrote to his father, "next generation (male) arrived. Both D & it appear to be doing well."[233]He ended up in the American hospital himself for tests and, he told Olga, a "small operation".[235]Dorothy took Omar to England, where she stayed for a year and thereafter visited him every summer. He was sent to live at first inFelpham, Sussex, with a former superintendent ofNorland College, which trains nannies,[236]and later became a boarder atCharterhouse.[237]When Dorothy was in England with Omar during the summers, Ezra would spend the time with Olga.[238]Olga's father helped her buy a house in Venice in 1928,[239]and from 1930 she also rented the top floor of a house in Sant'Ambrogio, Caso 60, near the Pounds in Rapallo.[240]

The Exile,Dialpoetry award[edit]Pound in 1920 byE. O. Hoppe

In 1925 a new literary magazine,This Quarter, dedicated its first issue to Pound, including tributes from Hemingway and Joyce.[241]In Hemingway's contribution, "Homage to Ezra", he wrote that Pound "devotes perhaps one fifth of his working time to writing poetry and in this twenty per cent of effort writes a large and distinguished share of the really great poetry that has been written by any American living or dead—or any Englishman living or dead or any Irishman who ever wrote English."[242]

With the rest of his time he tries to advance the fortunes, both material and artistic, of his friends. He defends them when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. He loans them money. He sells their pictures. He arranges concerts for them. He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets publishers to take their books. He sits up all night with them when they claim to be dying and he witnesses their wills. He advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide. And in the end a few of them refrain from knifing him at the first opportunity.[242]

Against Hemingway's positive view of Pound, Richard Aldington told Amy Lowell that year that Pound had been almost forgotten in England: "as the rest of us go up, he goes down", he wrote.[243]In the U.S., Pound won the $2,000Dialpoetry award in 1927[244]for his translation of theConfucian classicGreat Learning.[245]Using the prize money, he launched his own literary magazine,The Exile, in March, but only four issues appeared. It did well in the first year, with contributions from Hemingway,E. E. Cummings, Basil Bunting, Yeats, William Carlos Williams, andRobert McAlmon.[246]Some of the poorest work consisted of Pound's rambling editorials onConfucianismor in praise of Lenin, according to biographer J.J.Wilhelm.[247]His parents visited him in Rapallo that year, seeing him for the first time since 1914. His father had retired, so they moved to Rapallo themselves, taking a small house, Villa Raggio, on a hill above the town.[248]

Antisemitism, social credit[edit]Further information:Economic antisemitismPart ofa seriesonAntisemitism
  • Part ofJewish historyanddiscrimination
  • History
  • Timeline
  • v
  • t
  • e

Pound'santisemitismcan be traced to at least 1910, when he wrote inPatria Mia, his essays for theNew Age: "The Jew alone can retain his detestable qualities, despite climatic conditions." The sentence was removed from the 1950 edition.[86]In 1922 he apparently disliked that so many Jews were contributing toThe Dial,[249]and in 1939, when he read his poetry atHarvard, he was said to have included antisemitic poems in the program because he believed there wereJewsin the audience.[250][v]

A friend of Pound's, the writer Lina Caico, wrote to him in March 1937 asking him to use his musical contacts to help a German-Jewish pianist in Berlin who did not have enough money to live on because of theNuremberg Laws. Normally willing to help fellow artists, Pound replied (at length): "You hit a nice sore spot... Let her try Rothschild and some of the bastards who are murdering 10 million anglo saxons in England."[253]He nevertheless denied being an antisemite; he said he likedSpinoza,Montaigne, andAlexander del Mar. "What I am driving at", he wrote toJackson Mac Low, "is that some kike might manage to pin an antisem label on me IF he neglected the mass of my writing."[254][w]

Pound came to believe that World War I had been caused by finance capitalism, which he called "usury",[3]and that the Jews had been to blame. He believed the solution lay inC. H. Douglas's idea ofsocial credit.[97]Pound several times used the termLeihkapital(loan capital), equating it with Jews.[256]Hitler had used the same term inMein Kampf(1926).[257][x]"Your enemy is Das Leihkapital," Pound wrote in a 1942 radio script aimed at the UK, "international, wandering Loan Capital. Your enemy is not Germany, your enemy is money on loan. And it would be better to be infected with typhus... than to be infected with this blindness which prevents you from understanding HOW you are undermined... The big Jew is so bound up with this Leihkapital that no one is able to unscramble that omelet."[259]The argument ran that without "usury" and Jews, there would be no class conflict.[260]

In addition to presenting his economic ideas in hundreds of articles and inThe Cantos, Pound wrote over 1,000 letters a year throughout the 1930s.[261]From 1932 he wrote 180 articles forThe New English Weekly, a social-credit journal founded by A. R. Orage, and 60 forIl Mare, a Rapallo newspaper.[262]He wrote toBill Birdthat the press in Paris was controlled by theComité des forges. He also came under the influence ofCharles Maurras, who led the far-rightAction Française.[263]From around 1932 he began using a dating system that countedBenito Mussolini'sMarch on Romein October 1922 as year zero.[264]

Meeting Mussolini[edit]Further information:Fascist Italy (1922–1943)Benito Mussoliniin 1922

In December 1932 Pound requested a meeting withMussoliniafter being hired to work on a film script aboutItalian fascism. Pound had asked to see Mussolini previously—Olga Rudge had played privately for Mussolini on 19 February 1927—but this time he was given an audience.[265]They met on 30 January 1933 at thePalazzo Veneziain Rome, the day Hitler was appointedChancellor of Germany.[266]

When Pound handed Mussolini a copy ofA Draft of XXX Cantos, Mussolini reportedly said of a passage Pound highlighted that it was not English. Pound said: "No, it's my idea of the way a continental Jew would speak English", to which Mussolini replied "How entertaining" (divertente).[267]Pound tried to discuss an 18-point draft of his economic theories.[267](Daniel Swift writes that this story has been "told and retold, and in each version, the details shift".)[268]Pound recorded the meeting in "Canto XLI".[269]"XI of our era"—1933, 11 years after the March on Rome—is an example of his new dating system.[264]

Pound wrote to C.H.Douglas that he had "never met anyone who seemed togetmy ideas so quickly as the boss".[270]The meeting left him feeling that he had become a person of influence, Redman writes, someone who had been consulted by a head of state.[271]When he returned to Rapallo, he was greeted at the station by the town band.[267]

Canto XLI

saidthe Boss, "è divertente."
catching the point before the aesthetes had got
Havingdrained off the muckbyVada
From the marshes, byCirceo, where no one else wd. have
drained it.
Waited 2000 years, ate grain from the marshes:
Water supply for ten million, another one million "vani"
that is rooms for people to live in.
XI of our era.

—On meeting Mussolini[272]

Immediately after the meeting Pound began writingThe ABC of EconomicsandJefferson and/or Mussolini: L'Idea Statale Fascism as I Have Seen It(1935). The latter was ready by the end of February,[273]although he had trouble finding a publisher. In 1942 Pound told Italy's Royal Finance Office that he had written the book for propaganda purposes in Italy's interests.[274]He wrote articles praising Mussolini and fascism for T.S.Eliot'sThe Criterionin July 1933, theNew York World Telegramin November 1933, theChicago Tribuneon 9 April 1934,[275]and in 65 articles for theBritish-Italian Bulletin, published by the Italian Embassy in London.[276]

Pound's antisemitism deepened with the introduction in Italy of theracial lawsin 1938,[y]preceded by the publication in July that year of theManifesto of Race. Mussolini instituted restrictions against Jews, who had to register. Foreign Jews lost their Italian citizenship, and on 18 September 1938 Mussolini declaredJudaism"an irreconcilable enemy of fascism".[278]

Visit to America[edit]External imageEzra Pound reclining, 1939

—byWyndham Lewis

When Olivia Shakespear died in October 1938 in London, Dorothy asked Ezra to organize the funeral, where he saw their 12-year-old son, Omar, for the first time in eight years. He visited Eliot andWyndham Lewis, who produced a famous portrait of Pound reclining.[279]

Believing he could stop America's involvement in World War II, Pound sailed for New York in April 1939 on theSSRexin a first-class suite.[280][z]Giving interviews on the deck in a tweed jacket, he told reporters that Mussolini wanted peace.[280]In Washington, D.C. he attended a session of Congress, sitting in a section of the gallery reserved for relatives (because ofThaddeus Coleman Pound).[281]He lobbied senators and congressmen,[282]had lunch with the Polish ambassador, warning him not to trust the English or Winston Churchill,[283]and asked to see the President but was told it could not be done.[281]

He took part in a poetry reading at Harvard, where he agreed to be recorded by the Department of Speech,[284]and in July he received an honorary doctorate from Hamilton College, along with the radio commentatorH. V. Kaltenborn. Kaltenborn, whom Pound referred to at the time as Kaltenstein, gave an anti-fascist speech after lunch ("dictatorships shall die, but democracies shall live"), which Pound interrupted loudly to the point where, according to one account, the college president had to intervene.[285]Pound described this years later to Wyndham Lewis: "That was a music hall day, with a stage set/ only at a Kawledg Komencement wd/ one git in mouth-shot at that sort of wind-bag/ that fahrt Kaltenbourne."[286][aa]Pound sailed back to Italy a few days later on theSSConte di Savoia.[288]

Between May and September 1939 Pound wrote 12 articles for theJapan Times(he became their "Italian correspondent"),[289]which included the claim that "Democracy is now currently defined in Europe as a 'country run by Jews'".[290]He discussed the "essential fairness of Hitler's war aims" and wrote that Churchill was a senile front for the Rothschilds.[291]

World War II and radio broadcasts (1939–1945)[edit]Letter-writing campaign[edit]Further information:War breaks out in Europe (1939–40)

When war broke out in September 1939, Pound began a letter-writing campaign to the politicians he had petitioned months earlier.[292]On 18 June 1940, after thefall of France, he wrote to SenatorBurton K. Wheeler: "I have read a regulation that only those foreigners are to be admitted to the U.S. who are deemed to be useful etc/. The dirtiest jews from Paris, Blum??" He explained that they were all a pox.[293]To his publisher,James Laughlin, he wrote that "Roosevelt represents Jewry" and signed off with "Heil Hitler".[283]He began calling Roosevelt "Jewsfeldt" or "Stinky Rooosenstein".[290]InMeridiano di Romahe compared Hitler and Mussolini toConfucius.[291]InOswald Mosley's newspaper,Action, he wrote that the English were "a slave race governed by theHouse of Rothschildsince Waterloo".[290]By May 1940, according to the historianMatthew Feldman, the British government regarded Pound as "a principal supplier of information to the BUF [British Union of Fascists] from abroad".[294]His literary agent in New York,John J. Slocum, urged him to return to writing poetry and literary criticism; instead, Pound sent Slocum political manifestos, which he declined to attempt to publish in the United States.[295]

Radio broadcasts[edit]Main article:Ezra Pound's radio broadcasts, 1941–1945Radio broadcast

You let in the Jew and the Jew rotted your Empire, and you yourselves are (doomed) by the Jew.

—Ezra Pound, Radio Rome, 15 March 1942[296]

Between 23 January 1941[297]and 28 March 1945, including during theHolocaust in Italy, Pound recorded or composed hundreds of broadcasts for Italian radio, mostly forEIAR(Radio Rome) and later for a radio station in theSalò Republic, the Nazi puppet state in northern and central Italy.[298]Broadcast in English, and sometimes in Italian, German, and French,[299]the EIAR program was transmitted to England, central Europe, and the United States.[300]

Styling himself "Dr Ezra Pound" (his only doctorate was the honorary one from Hamilton College),[301]he attacked the United States, Roosevelt, Roosevelt's family, Churchill, and the Jews. He praised Hitler, recommendedeugenicsto "conserve the best of the race",[302]and referred to Jews as "filth".[303]The broadcasts were monitored by the United StatesForeign Broadcast Monitoring Service, and on 26 July 1943 theUnited States District Court for the District of Columbiaindicted Poundin absentiafor treason.[304]According to Feldman, the Pound archives at Yale contain receipts for 195 payments from the ItalianMinistry of Popular Culturefrom 22 April 1941 to 26 January 1944. Over 33 months, Pound received 250,000 lire (then equivalent to $12,500; $185,000 as of 2013).[305]

Italian Social Republic, September 1943– May 1945

On 9–10 September 1943, the GermanWehrmachtoccupied northern and central Italy. Hitler appointed Mussolini head of a fascist puppet state, theItalian Social Republicor Salò Republic.[306]Pound called it the "Republic of Utopia".[307]SSofficers began concentrating Jews in transit camps before deporting them toAuschwitz-Birkenau.[308][ab]Of the first group of 1,034 Jews to arrive in Auschwitz from Rome on 23 October 1943 839 were gassed.[310]

In Rome when the German occupation began, Pound headed north toGais, on foot and by train, to visit his daughter, a journey of about 450 miles (720km).[311][ac]On or around 23 November 1943, he metFernando Mezzasoma, the new Minister of Popular Culture, inSalò. Pound wrote to Dorothy from Salò asking if she could obtain a radio confiscated from the Jews to give to Rudge, so that Rudge could help with his work.[313]

From 1 December 1943 Pound began writing scripts for the state's new radio station.[314]The following day he suggested toAlessandro Pavolini, secretary of theRepublican Fascist Party, that book stores be legally obliged to showcase certain books, includingThe Protocols of the Elders of Zion(1903), a hoax document purporting to be a Jewish plan to dominate the world. "The arrest of Jews will create a wave of useless mercy," Pound wrote, "thus the need to disseminate the Protocols. The intellectuals are capable of a passion more durable than emotional, but they need to understand the reasons for a conflict."[315]On 26 January 1945, in a script called "Corpses of Course" for the programJerry's Front Calling, Pound wrote: "Why shouldn't there be one grand beano; wiping out Sieff and Kuhn and Loeb and Guggenheim and Stinkenfinger and the rest of the nazal bleaters?"[316]

Arrest for treason[edit]Further information:Death of Benito Mussolini

In May 1944 the German military, trying to secure the coast against the Allies, forced the Pounds to evacuate their seafront apartment in Rapallo. From then until the end of the war, the couple lived with Rudge in her home above Rapallo at Sant' Ambrogio.[317]There were food shortages, no coffee, and no newspapers, telephones, or letters.[318]According to Rudge, Ezra and Dorothy would spend their nights listening to theBBC.[319]In addition to the radio scripts, Pound was writing for the newspaperIl Popolo di Alessandria. He wanted to write for the more reputableCorriere della Serain Milan, but the editor regarded his Italian as "incomprehensible".[320]

Taken at the Disciplinary Training CenterPound spent three weeks in the reinforced cage on the far left.[321]

Mussolini and his mistress,Clara Petacci, were shot by Italianpartisanson 28 April 1945. Their bodies were displayed in thePiazzale Loretoin Milan, abused by the crowd, then left hanging upside down.[322]"Thus Ben and la Claraa Milano/ by the heels at Milano".[323]On 3 May armed partisans arrived at Rudge's home to find Pound alone. He picked up the Confucian textFour Booksand a Chinese–English dictionary and was taken to their headquarters inZoagli,[324]then at his request to the U.S.Counter Intelligence Corpsheadquarters inGenoa, where he was interrogated by FBI agent Frank L. Amprin.[325]

Pound asked to send a cable toPresident Trumanto help negotiate a "just peace" with Japan. He wanted to make a final broadcast called "Ashes of Europe Calling", in which he would recommend not only peace with Japan, but American management of Italy, the establishment of a Jewish state in Palestine, and leniency toward Germany. His requests were denied and the script was forwarded toJ. Edgar Hoover.[326]A few days later Amprin removed over 7,000 letters, articles and other documents from Rudge's home as evidence.[327]On 8 May, the dayGermany surrendered, Pound gave the Americans a further statement:

Toilet paper showing start of Canto LXXIV[328]

I am not anti-Semitic, and I distinguish between the Jewish usurer and the Jew who does an honest day's work for a living.

Hitler and Mussolini were simple men from the country. I think that Hitler was a Saint, and wanted nothing for himself. I think that he was fooled into anti-Semitism and it ruined him. That was his mistake. When you see the "mess" that Italy gets into by bumping off Mussolini, you will see why someone could believe in some of his efforts.[329]

Later that day he told an American reporter, Edd Johnson, that Hitler was "a Jeanne d'Arc... Like many martyrs, he held extreme views". Mussolini was "a very human, imperfect character who lost his head".[330]On 24 May he was transferred to the United States Army Disciplinary Training Center north of Pisa, where he was placed in one of the camp's 6-by-6-foot (1.8 by 1.8m) outdoor steel cages, with tar paper covers, lit up at night by floodlights. Engineers reinforced his cage the night before he arrived in case fascist sympathizers tried to break him out.[331]

Pound lived in isolation in the heat, sleeping on the concrete, denied exercise and communication, apart from daily access to the chaplain.[332]After three weeks, he stopped eating.[331]He recorded what seemed to be a breakdown in "Canto LXXX", whereOdysseusis saved from drowning byLeucothea: "hast'ou swum in a sea of air strip / through an aeon of nothingness, / when the raft broke and the waters went over me".[333]Medical staff moved him out of the cage the following week. On 14 and 15 June he was examined by psychiatrists, after which he was transferred to his own tent.[334]He began to write, drafting what became known asThe Pisan Cantos.[335]The existence of two sheets of toilet paper showing the first ten lines of "Canto LXXIV" in pencil suggests he started it while in the cage.[336]

United States (1945–1958)[edit]St. Elizabeths Hospital[edit]Further information:Visits to St. ElizabethsSt. Elizabeths HospitalCenter Building,Anacostia, Washington, D.C., 2006

Pound arrived back in Washington, D.C. on 18 November 1945, two days before the start of theNuremberg trials.[337]Lt. Col. P. V. Holder, one of the escorting officers, wrote in an affidavit that Pound was "an intellectual 'crackpot'" who intended to conduct his own defense.[338]Dorothy would not allow it; Pound wrote in a letter: "TellOmarI favour a defender who has written a life ofJ. Adamsand translatedConfucius. Otherwise how CAN he know what it is about?"[339]

He was arraigned on 27 November on charges of treason,[ad]and on 4 December he was placed in a locked room in the psychiatric ward ofGallinger Hospital.[341]Three court-appointed psychiatrists, includingWinfred Overholser, superintendent ofSt. Elizabeths Hospital, decided that he was mentally unfit to stand trial. They found him "abnormallygrandiose... expansive and exuberant in manner, exhibitingpressure of fourth psychiatrist appointed by Pound's lawyer initially thought he was apsychopath, which would have made him fit to stand trial.[343]

On 21 December 1945, as case no. 58,102, he was transferred to Howard Hall, St. Elizabeths' maximum security ward, where he was held in a single cell with peepholes.[344]Visitors were admitted to the waiting room for 15 minutes at a time, while patients wandered around screaming.[345]A hearing on 13 February 1946 concluded that he was of "unsound mind"; he shouted in court: "I never did believe in Fascism, God damn it; I am opposed to Fascism."[346]Pound's lawyer,Julien Cornell, requested his release at a hearing in January 1947.[347]As a compromise, Overholser moved him to the more comfortable Cedar Ward on the third floor of the east wing of St. Elizabeths' Center Building.[348]In early 1948 he was moved again, this time to a larger room in Chestnut Ward.[349]

Tytell writes that Pound was in his element in Chestnut Ward.[350]At last provided for, he was allowed to read, write, and receive visitors, including Dorothy for several hours a day.[351](In October 1946 Dorothy had been placed in charge of his "person and property".)[352]His room had a typewriter, floor-to-ceiling book shelves, and bits of paper hanging on string from the ceiling with ideas forThe Cantos.[350]He had turned a small alcove on the ward into his living room, where he entertained friends and literary figures.[351][ae]It reached the point where he refused to discuss any attempt to have him released.[354]

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