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Ezra Pound

"The best of Pound's writing and it is in the Cantos will last as long as there is any literature." -- Ernest Hemingway

Born: 30/10/1885  in Hailey, Idaho on Western part of USA.

Died:01/11/1972 in Venice, Italy in his sleep due to intestinal blockage.

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was the only child of his parents. His early education was in Dame schools, run by Quakers. At the age of 15,in 1901, he was admitted to University of Pennsylvania's College of Liberal Arts. It was here that he started reading poetry with a feverish pace and developed a pathological love for poetry. Next year, he was transferred to Hamilton College in Clinton, New York possibly because of poor grades. While in New York, he read Dante and the thought of a long poem probably dawned on him. He thought of a poem dealing with emotion, instruction and finally contemplation which would fructify to a large extent in his poem The Cantos in future. Pound graduated with B.Phil in 1905 and did his M.A. in 1906. He registered for PhD but annoyed his English Professor Felix Schelling over his silly remark that George Bernard Shaw was better than Shakespeare to such an extent that his scholarship was not renewed and the professor remarked that Pound was wasting his as well as Institution's time. Ezra Pound left without finishing his doctorate. In 1907, he took teaching assignment in a college but again annoyed the authorities with his obstinate manners and also annoyed the land ladies with his flings with several women. He was thrown out of the college and the apartments. Frustrated, he set sail for Europe.

   Ezra Pound's European stay is classified into 4 distinct periods--

In England from 1908-1920, in Paris from 1921-1924 and in Italy from 1924-1945 and then in Italy from 1958 -1972 after incarceration & stay in USA from 1945-1958.

 After setting foot in Paris, he worked as a tourist guide to sustain himself. In the meantime, he self-published his first book of poetry, A Lume Spento (With Tapers Spent) which sold 100 copies at six cents each. During his London stay, he was part of a thriving literary circuit which included W B Yeats, T S Eliot & James Joyce.

  Then followed the First World War sheer havoc of which left deep scar in his mind and shattered his faith in modern western civilization. Pound became increasingly bitter of people around him and made more enemies than friends.

  In 1921, he moved to Paris and joined Dada and surrealist movement comprising Tristan Tzara , Fernand Leger & Marcel Duchamp. He had good influence in social circles there and virtually acted as mid-wife for new literary talents.

 In 1924, he shifted to Italy. During the Second World War, he actively campaigned for Mussolini & Hitler & Fascism as he thought England was perpetuating Financial capitalism. After fall of Italy and Germany, he was arrested by US forces, confined to a 6ft by 6ft steel cage and then was shifted to US to face treason charges. In US , thanks to his attorney and hospital superintendent, he was taken as an incurable lunatic and was put in the better environment of Chestnut Ward where he spent next 12 years with freedom to read and write. Other writers notably Hemingway fought for his release and he was finally freed in 1958. After release, he moved to Italy.

     The bulk of Pound's work on The Cantos began after his move to Italy. Like all the other great epics, it is the story of good and evil, a descent into hell and progress to paradise. Its hundreds of characters fall into three groups: those who enjoy hell and stay there; those who experience a metamorphosis and want to leave; and a few who lead the rest to paradiso  terrestre.

 His works include A Lume Spento (1908), Cantos I-XVI (1925), Cantos LII-LXXI (1940), Cantos XVII-XXVII (1928), Canzoni (1911),
Exultations (1909), Homage to Sextus Propertius (1934),Lustra and Other Poems (1917),Patria Mia (1950),Personae (1909),Provenca (1910),Quia Pauper Amavi (1919),The Cantos (1972),The Fifth Decade of Cantos (1937),The Pisan Cantos (1948),Umbra: Collected Poems (1920)

Ezra Pound

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