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