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Ezra Loomis Pound (1885-1972)
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In his anti-Semitic statements Pound agreed with those who believed that the economic system was being exploited by Jewish financiers. During World War II he made in Rome a series of radio broadcasts, that were openly fascist. In 1945 he was arrested by the U.S. forces and pronounced insane in a trial. Pound spent 12 years in Washington, D.C., in a hospital for the criminally insane. During this period he received the 1949 Bollingen Prize for his Pisan Cantos. After he was released, he returned to Italy, where he spent his remaining years. Pound died on November 1, 1972 in Venice. According to Katherine Anne Porter, "Pound was one of the most opinionated and unselfish men who ever lived, and he made friends and enemies everywhere by the simple exercise of the classic American constitutional right of free speech." (The Letters of E.P., 1907-1941, New York Times Book Review, 29 Oct. 1950)
Pound published over 70 books and translated Japanese plays and Chinese poetry. The Cantos, a series of poems which he wrote from 1920s throughout his life, are considered among his best works. Its final volume, LATE CANTOS AND FRAGMENTS, appeared in 1969. In The Cantos Pound recorded the poet's spiritual quest for transcendence, and intellectual search for worldly wisdom. Just as Beatrice guided Dante's pilgrim, so classical goddesses appear in The Cantos. Pound also presents mythical, historical, and contemporary figures, mirroring the poetry and ideas of the past and present. "Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree."
As an essayist Pound wrote mostly about poetry. From the mid-1920s he examined in several writings the ways economic systems promote or debase culture. Pound hoped, that fascism could establish the sort of society in which the arts could flourish. He argued that poetry is not 'entertainment', and as an elitist he did not appreciate the common reader. Pound considered American culture isolated from the traditions that make the arts possible, and depicted Walt Whitman as 'exceedingly nauseating pill'. Among his most influential works are ABC OF READING (1934), which is said to have established the modernist poetic technique and THE CHINESE WRITTEN CHARACTER AS A MEDIUM FOR POETRY (pub. 1936), compiled from the notes of Ernest Fenollosa.
For further reading: The Poetry of Ezra Pound by H. Kenner (1951); Ideas into Action by C. Emery (1958); Ezra Pound by Charles Norman (1960, rev. 1969); The Life of Ezra Pound by N. Stock (1970); The Pound Era by Hugh Kenner (1972); Ezra Pound: the Last Rower by C.