Ezra Pound : Contribution to Poetry

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      Of the Imagist poets only Ezra Pound (1885-1972) gained lasting fame, not only as a poet but as one who helped many other writers to achieve their best work. Born in the U.S.A. he lived in London from 1908 to 1920, then in Paris, and from 1924 to 1945 in Italy. His admiration of Mussolini resulted in his being charged with treason at the end of the war. Considered unfit to plead, he was held prisoner in hospital until 1958, a forlorn scapegoat for the sins of fascism.

Ezra Pound was always a centre of controversy because of his iconoclastic views on everything from poetry to economics (often founded on half-knowledge or a perverse determination to be different), but his influence on contemporary literature was exemplified by the homage paid to him by T. S. Eliot.
Ezra Pound

      Ezra Pound was always a centre of controversy because of his iconoclastic views on everything from poetry to economics (often founded on half-knowledge or a perverse determination to be different), but his influence on contemporary literature was exemplified by the homage paid to him by T. S. Eliot. Pound's translations from Italian, Provencal, Latin, etc., were far from accurate, but they recreated the spirit of the originals; he re-established the epigram as a verse form, strengthened by the influence of Japanese. To him poetry was the embodiment of melody, images, and provocative thought - basics of most good poetry - but they produced an originality in Pound's verse which Eliot considered lacking in most poetry of the past century. Hugh Selwyn Mobberly (1920) was an arraignment of culture (a word that Pound abhorred), the urge by writers "to maintain 'the sublime' in the old sense", and in retrospect can be considered as significant as - though less famous than - The Waste Land.

      Pound's life in Italy was largely devoted to writing The Cantos which appeared part by part and were always in the process of being revised; eventually they remained unfinished. They were a vast survey of history from his own very limited and biased point of view; they were extremely erudite, highly allusive, and expressive of personal, often fragmented, experiences, in a compaction of images made all the more bewildering because of their references to foreign languages and literatures. When he was in prison awaiting trial, he was deprived of books; thus he was forced to rely on his own mind and personality for emotional sustenance. The Pisan Cantos (1948) which resulted may be considered his best; certainly they are the most attractive, because of their sympathy for humanity and the sheer beauty of their words.

      Pound's survey of contemporary society and its problems was published between 1925 and 1969; a very necessary Annotated Index came out in 1958 before the appearance of the last twenty-one Cantos. No matter how confused were Pound's political ideas, and despite the increasingly personal and elliptical language he employed, he was a poet till the very end.

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