Ezra Pound

Today Ezra Pound is, regrettably,  known more for his politics than his poetry – “The Fascist Poet” – Ryan Fan, (writing on Pound in Medium, last year):

“This is the story of Ezra Pound, a man whose fascist politics tarnished his artistic legacy. And grappling with the story of Pound is a question whether we can truly, in a case this extreme, separate the artist from the art.”

The decision, made for some time now, is we can’t – “Cancel culture”
(See also Lauren Arrington, back in September, writing for Literary Hub, with the ominous and unambiguous heading, “Ezra Pound’s Unrepentant Ties with Fascist Italy)

But to so entirely dispense with Pound, with the great master and craftsman,  polymath and mind, pioneering figure in the history of literary modernism? – Pound was one of Allen’s great heroes, he couldn’t.

He famously sought him out (in Venice, in 1967), and with some chutzpah, as Rodger Kamentz has pointed out, accepted his apology for “the stupid suburban prejudice of anti-Semitism” (Pound’s words). As Kamentz further notes:

“I used to believe some were attracted to Pound’s work in spite of his anti-Semitism, I came to understand that some were attracted because of it. Pound’s apologists tend to overlook his errors. Instead of reading honestly, they simply skip over the unpleasant parts…But considering that he broadcast for Mussolini during the war, “suburban anti-Semitism” is a gross understatement of his views. .. I think Ginsberg should not have let him off the hook.”

Allen’s justification for forgiveness was expressed directly to Pound:

“…anyone with any sense can see it as a humour, in that sense part of the drama – you manifest the process of thoughts – make a model of the consciousness and anti-Semitism is your fuck-up, like not liking Buddhists. but its part of the model as it proceeds – and the great accomplishment was to make a working model of your mind – I mean nobody cares if it’s Ezra Pound’s mind – it is a mind, like all our minds, and that’s never been done before – so you made a working model all along, with all the dramatic imperfections, fuck-ups – anyone with sense can always see the crazy part and see the perfect clear lucid perception-language ground.”

Further (full) details appear in his account of the meeting in the recently-published  The Fall of America Journals

For a selection from them see here

Today is Ezra Pound’s birthday

More Ezra Pound on The Allen Ginsberg Project – here, here, here, here, here and here
– and elsewhere!

No longer the heady days of Carroll Terrell and Paedeuma (see also the note on the Ezra Pound Societyhere). but Pound scholarship continues

We’ll draw your attention in particular to Massimo Bacigalupo, who, back on 2015, edited Pound’s Posthumous Cantos. More recently, 2020, he published Ezra Pound, Italy and “the Cantos”

Here’s Pound reading from “The Cantos

and here’s Pier Paolo Pasoloni reading to Pound from “The Cantos”

“What thou lovest well remains,/the rest is dross/What thou lovst well shall not be reft from thee/ What thou lovst well is thy true heritage/Whose world, or mine or theirs/or is it of none?/ First came the seen, then thus the palpable/Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,/What thou lovest well is thy true heritage/What thou lovst well shall not be reft from thee/The ants a centaur in his dragon world./ Pull down thy vanity, it is not man/Made courage, or made order, or made grace,/Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down./Learn of the green world what can be thy place/In scaled invention or true artistry,/Pull down thy vanity,
Paquin pull down!/The green casque has out done your elegance./Master thy self, then others shall thee beare/Pull down thy vanity/Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,/A swollen mag pie in a fitful sun,/Half black half white/Nor knowstou wing from tail/Pull down thy vanity/How mean thy hates/Fostered in falsity,/Pull down thy vanity,/Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,/Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down./ But to have done instead of not doing/This is not vanity/To have, with decency, knocked/That a Blunt should open/To have gathered from the air a live tradition/or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame/this is not vanity./Here error is all in the not done,/all in the diffidence that faltered”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *