lovehate: Rediscovering Ezra Pound

To some, Ezra Pound was a crazy mofo. To others, he was a crazy mofo genius.

His ability to paint images with words is often hit and miss for me, but generally the hits are illuminating and the misses are because he's written 100 cantos in cunieform.

How many writers can claim such a biological paragraph as framework for their writings:

"After the war, Pound was brought back to the United States to face charges of treason. The charges covered only his activities during the time when the Kingdom of Italy was officially at war with the United States, i.e., the time before the Allies captured Rome and Mussolini fled to the North. Pound was not prosecuted for his activities on behalf of Mussolini's Saló Republic, evidently because the Republic's existence was never formally recognized by the United States. He was found incompetent to face trial by a special federal jury and sent to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., where he remained for 12 years from 1946 to 1958. His insanity plea is still a matter of controversy, since in retrospect his activities and his writings during the war years do appear to be those of a sane person." - via

With this brief context in mind, (and I encourage you explore his writings and life more) I provide some of my favorite thoughts of Pound.

"And New York is the most beautiful city in the world? It is not far from it. No urban night is like the night there... Squares after squares of flame, set up and cut into the aether. Here is our poetry, for we have pulled down the stars to our will."

"Genius... is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one."

"I have never known anyone worth a damn who wasn't irascible."

"I have always thought the suicide should bump off at least one swine before taking off for parts unknown."

"The modern artist must live by craft and violence. His gods are violent gods. Those artists, so called, whose work does not show this strife, are uninteresting."

"The real trouble with war (modern war) is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people."

"Religion, oh, just another of those numerous failures resulting from an attempt to popularize art."

"Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance... poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music."

"The image is more than an idea. It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy."


The Encounter

All the while they were talking the new morality
Her eyes explored me.
And when I rose to go
Her fingers were like the tissue
Of a Japanese paper napkin.


O generation of the thoroughly smug
      and thoroughly uncomfortable,
I have seen fishermen picnicking in the sun,
I have seen them with untidy families,
I have seen their smiles full of teeth
      and heard ungainly laughter.
And I am happier than you are,
And they were happier than I am;
And the fish swim in the lake
      and do not even own clothing. 


"The art of letters will come to an end before A.D. 2000. I shall survive as a curiosity."