On this day in 1949 American expatriate Ezra Pound won the Bollingen Prize for poetry. Pound was a major figure in literary circles between the wars and helped many struggling writers to achieve recognition including Eliot, Hemingway and Joyce. Before World War II Pound lost trust in democracy and in Italy during the war he became an advocate of Fascism, which caused him to be imprisoned and ill-treated after the war ended.
His own poetry is difficult to judge. It is intellectual and shows his vast scholarship and range of interests with often intense imagery. It can however, be difficult to fathom – perhaps that was his intention. Certainly many people think that Pound did more for modern poetry in the English language than anyone else.
Here is a poem by Ezra Pound – The Garden – famous for its evocative imagery:
En robe de parade. Samain
Like a skein of loose silk blown against a wall
She walks by the railing of a path in Kensington Gardens,
And she is dying piece-meal
Tof a sort of emotional anaemia.
And round about there is a rabble
Of the filthy, sturdy, unkillable infants of the very poor.
They shall inherit the earth.
In her is the end of breeding.
Her boredom is exquisite and excessive.
She would like some one to speak to her,
And is almost afraid that I
Will commit that indiscretion.
Today I ask to learn new and deeper meanings to life and I will continue to read poetry with an enquiring mind.