Friday, November 6, 2009

EZRA Pound at St Elizabeth's Hospital in curably insane? A genius
Pound's antisemitism was a phase of wrongly deducing cause and effect and he had the courage to admit this failing as a cause of his error of assessment. He was as translator not only adept in the classical languages and Provencal, but inculcated and passed along tradition as the soul of what he was writing of. In this case of his translation of the Electra of Sophocles he collaborated with Rudd Fleming while interned at St Elizabeth's. He was engulfed in the soul of what he wrote of, was transported back to that era and saw it linked into an eternity. Admittedly he made miscalculations and was a bit "out of focus. He was both classicist and romantic as he pictures himself ,and his sensitivity to the troubadours was as a byproduct of his general proclivities to stay in that era as medievalist, classicist and romantic. He was at the core of their soul. I detected this proclivity in his presenting Bertrand de Born as presented in Dante. His modernism and free verse experimentation were a translation of esoteric and other wise inexplicable visions to poetry or under its guise. All the great writers who knew him knew him and greatly respected and acknowledged his proclivities , the properties of any aspiring classicist and one embracing tradition as Eliot defines it, with a rich but ordered memory and mastered 7 different languages, and hoarded their light, boring only to those lacking in the desire for scholarship and in obtaining a fraction of what he had.

Rudd Fleming, a professor at the University
of Maryland
, visited Pound often. They collaborated on a translation of Sophocles' Electra,
which was published by Princeton
University Press
in 1989.[25]
Fleming stated, when asked about Pound's antisemitism, that Pound considered it
a mistake. A statement from Pound's foreword to a collection of his prose
writings (written on July 4, 1972) would seem to support Fleming's assertion:
"In sentences referring to groups or races 'they' should be used with great
care. re USURY: I was out of focus, taking a symptom for a cause. The cause is
Pound also declared in 1967, "The worst mistake I made was that stupid, suburban
prejudice of anti-Semitism." [27]

Rod Jellema on EZRA
POUND(October 30, 1885 - November 1, 1972)
When Ezra Pound arrived in
Washington from Italy in 1945, a prisoner charged with treason, he landed in a
war's-end bureaucracy which could offer little in the way of a literary scene.
Briefly jailed and then transferred to St. Elizabeth's, to a secure ward for the
criminally insane, he would have had almost no contact with poets in Washington
anyway. Most of his visitors were from elsewhere, among them William Carlos
Williams, T. S. Eliot, Charles Olson, Robert Lowell. If he had been living in
Washington by choice (hard to imagine), his isolation and loneliness might have
been about the same. Often gruff and irascible, an incessant talker, "a
barbarian on the loose in a museum," in those twelve years he might have been
only a difficult neighbor.
Ezra Pound in 1945, taken 5 days after his
admission to St. Elizabeth's Hospital(National Archives)

I used to
think of him not as a neighbor but as an uncle. Uncle Ezra. He'd be a grand
embarrassment to most of my gentler family, a fire-brand uncle self-exiled to
London-Paris-Rapallo-Venice who had strolled the horsey streets of London with
Yeats in 1912 wearing pinned-up trousers of green pool-table felt and an
oversized hat, railing against the world's loss of decorum and order. Lots of
people might want an uncle like that to shock the neighbors ­ or the other
uncles ­ the kind of uncle you need when you sometimes have to wonder. This
"crank medievalist" with his "rich but disordered memory," who hoarded
intersecting planes of light in seven languages of broken glass the way Old Man
Hodge, our midwest neighbor, used to stash away foreign bottle caps in his shack
out back that no one ever entered. Uncle Ez. He would have startled and bored
your friends by tracking like comets the curves of ideographic Chinese verbs,
chanting, hands flying.
But his talk would be, well, different. He could enter
into and speak from the mind of a medieval scientist who would get "a mind full
of forms" from looking at newly developed electric street lights, fascinated by
not just the light but by "the thought of the current hidden in air and in wire"
("Essay on Cavalcanti"). But then he'd leap to big pronouncements for saving
civilization, usually wrong, often horrid and disgraceful. You'd have to feel
confused and ashamed. But he'd be like no one else's uncle, and there's that
thing about the wonder. He might not sit on the front steps and tell the
neighbor kids about it, he might in fact shout to them just what's wrong with
international banking, but if he was your uncle he just might sometimes let you

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