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Ezra Loomis Pound was born on October 30, 1885, in Hailey, Idaho, and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. At the age of 12 he entered Cheltenham, a military school, where he learned Greek and Latin. He went on to study languages at the University of Pennsyvlania (1903-1905), and to receive his Bachelor of Philosophy degree from Hamilton College (1905), and his Master of Arts from the University of Pennsylvania (1906). In 1907 he began teaching at Wabash College (a Presbyterian school) in Crawfordsville, Indiana, but left for Europe in 1908, living successively in London, Paris, and Venice.
Synopsis of His Literary Career
Pound's first book of poetry, A Lume Spento, was privately printed and distributed in Venice, Italy, in 1908. His first important work, however, was Ripostes of Ezra Pound, which was published in 1912. This volume contained five imagist poems by T.E. Hulme and its appearance was regarded as the beginning of the imagist movement. This movement's manifesto promised: "1. Direct treatment of the 'thing' whether subject or objective. 2. To use absolutely no word that does not contribute to the presentation. 3. As regarding rhythm: to compose in the sequence of musical phrase, not in sequence of a metronome."
Pound is probably best remembered for his monumental work Cantos, published in ten sections between 1925 and 1969, and then in a one-volume collected edition as The Cantos of Ezra Pound I-CXVII in 1970. In this work Pound traced the rise and fall of Eastern and Western empires, with special emphasis on what he saw as the destructive role of materialism and greed, along with the corruption he saw developing in American life.
In addition to more than 30 volumes of poetry, Pound also authored some 30 works of prose. He also translated several European and Chinese works into English, and one work from Chinese into Italian.
In 1914, Pound married artist Dorothy Shakespear, who bore him a son, Omar, in 1926. In 1922 he started a relationship with violinist Olga Rudge, who bore him a daughter five months before Omar's birth. Despite his unfaithfulness and other faults, Dorothy stayed by his side throughout his life.
Admiration for Fascism
While living in Italy, Pound became an admirer of the Fascist rule of Benito Mussolini. He also agreed with those who believed that the economic system was being exploited by Jewish financiers. During World War II, he broadcast Fascist propaganda to United States via radio.
In 1943 Pound was indicted by the United States for treason because of his radio broadcasts during the war. He was arrested near Genoa by U.S. troops in May 1945, and returned to the U.S. to stand trial. Judged not guilty due to insanity in 1946, he spent 12 years in a Washington, D.C. mental hospital. He returned to Italy upon his release in 1958.
In 1949, the Library of Congress chose to overlook Pound's support of Fascism and hospitalization to award him its Bollingen Prize for Pisan Cantos.
Ezra Pound died in Venice, Italy, on November 1, 1972.
A Lume Spento (1908)
The Spirit of Romance (1910)
The Sonnets and Ballate of Guido
Des Imagistes (1914)
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This page was last updated on 05/25/2017.