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Notes and Quotes: Ezra Pound


Ezra Pound
It challenges me to read about poets and their work. I read with notebook in hand. Here are notes and quotes from Ezra Pound: The Voice of Silence by Alan Levy

Pound was a "political prisoner" of the U.S. from 1945 to 1958 for comments made "on his wartime broadcasts for the fascist radio in Rome." Interesting in light of current events and policies. I doubt he'd even be noticed.

Peter Russell on Pound's silence: "He can say yes and no with so many shades of inflection that it becomes a language in itself. The rest ... is that he's entered a period of meditation and contemplation."

Pound's "official" wife was Dorothy Shakespear though his companion was Olga Rudge. Olga, who remained with him until his death, explained why she was so protective of Pound: "We get hippies ... They have embraced the wisdom of Ezra Pound, but they haven't read him."
Further she said: "Others come to read him their poetry. They don't know his poetry, but they want him to praise theirs. And their craftsmanship is so poor. There is no oral tradition anymore. It's all publicity."

Among the hippies was Allen Ginsberg whose 'first question to Pound was ... bourgeois: "Do you people need any money?'"

"Olga Rudge was appalled to read an interview in which Ginsberg chided Pound for his bourgeois background and values--and told of his own good deeds, including buying Pound $75 to $85 worth of Dylan records. 'It was all about money, not about time or poetry,' Olga Rudge observed."

Ezra "didn't enjoy" the Bob Dylan recordings.

Pound's stay in Venice in 1908 allowed him to "publish, at his own expense, his first collection of poems, A Lume Spento."

From Thomas Lask's obit.: "'Make it new' was his cry as he went into battle. He sought tautness, compactness, the hard image that both conveyed and, in a sense, was the meaning the poet was after. Every word that was not functional in the line was eliminated. His poetry ... had a lyrical and delicate talent, a skillful sense of rhythm and music and a nervous energy that give the poetry a propulsive vigor."

Pound from P'atria Mia: "With the real artist there is always a residue, there is always something in the man which does not get into his work. There is always some reason why the man is always more worth knowing than his books are. In the long run nothing else counts."

Pound in a letter to William Carlos Williams he lists his creative goals:
"1 To paint the thing as I see it.
"2 Beauty
"3 Freedom from didacticism
"4 It is only good manners if you repeat a few other men to at least do it better or more briefly."

Richard H. Rovere: "He believed with Whitman that American experience was fit and even glorious material for poetry, and what he was at war with when he left this country was that spirit that denied this ... 'Make it new' Pound kept saying, from his colloquial rendering of Confucius, and 'Make it American,' as if he were a booster of home manufactures at a trade fair."

Pound on Walt Whitman from Selected Prose: "I see him America's poet....
"He is America. His crudity is an exceeding great stench, but it is America. He is the hollow place in the rock that echoes with his time....
"Mentally I am a Walt Whitman who has learned to wear a collar and a dress shirt ... Whitman is to my fatherland ... what Dante is to Italy ..."

"Tching prayed on the mountain and
wrote MAKE IT NEW
on his bath tub
Day by day make it new."
--From Canto LIII

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