Remembering Ezra Pound (October 30, 1885 to November 1, 1972)Greg Johnson
“A slave is one who waits for someone else to free him.” — Ezra Pound
One of the ongoing projects of the North American New Right is the recovery of our tradition. One does not have to go too far back before one discovers that every great European thinker and artist is a “Right Wing extremist” by today’s standards.
What is even more remarkable is the number of great 20th century figures who belong in our camp as well. And among these figures, Ezra Loomis Pound is one of the most illustrious and one of the most radical.
Pound is lauded even by his enemies as one of the giants of modernist poetry. Speaking personally, however, Pound’s poetry long stood in the way of appreciating his genius as a critic, a translator, an essayist, an economist, and a political commentator.
I like a lot of modern literature, but to my ear Pound pushes its intellectualist and reflexive characteristics to the extreme and offers very little with immediate naive and sensuous appeal. For instance, as far as I have been able to determine, he never wrote anything in danger of being set to music by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
Appreciating Pound’s poetry presupposes a vast humanistic education of the sort long unavailable in American universities. Of course it doesn’t hurt to have such an education, even if one does not end up liking Pound. A good place to begin such an education is Pound himself, through reading his many volumes of essays and criticism, which I find absolutely compelling. Pound’s art is very long, and life very short. But you owe it to yourself to try. In the end, you have nothing to lose but your ignorance.
I suggest you begin where I did, with Impact: Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1960), which brings together all of Pound’s central interests, cultural, historical, artistic, political, and economic. A similar overview is provided by Selected Prose 1909-1965 (New York: New Directions, 1973). After that, read his Guide to Kulchur (New York: New Directions, 1970).
For Pound’s political views, seek out Jefferson and/or Mussolini (1935) (New York: Liveright, 1970). Then read his WWII radio broadcasts: Ezra Pound Speaking: Radio Speeches of World War II (Contributions in American Studies) (Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1978), a sample of which is printed below.
Finally, read his economic pamphlets, reprinted below, the ideas of which are ably summarized by Carolina Hartley in “Ezra Pound on Money.”
For Pound’s views on literature, see his Literary Essays of Ezra Pound, ed. T. S. Eliot (New York: New Directions, 1968), The Spirit of Romance (New York: New Directions, 1968), and ABC of Reading (1934) (New York: New Directions, 1960).
To tackle Pound’s poetry, all you need is two books: The Library of America’s massive volume Ezra Pound: Poems and Translation (New York: Library of America, 2003), which contains everything except Pound’s magnum opus The Cantos (New York: New Directions, 1971).
I also wish to draw your attention to works on this website:
- ABC of Economics
- “America, Roosevelt, and the Causes of the Present War“
- “An Introduction to the Economic Nature of the United States“
- “England,” Ezra’s Pound’s Radio Broadcast of March 15, 1942
- “The Four Steps“
- “Gold and Work“
- Jefferson and/or Mussolini
- Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, Part 1
- “Materialism,” Ezra Pound’s Radio Broadcast of June 26, 1943
- Pier Paolo Pasolini Interviews Ezra Pound
- “Religio or, The Child’s Guide to Knowledge“
- “Sestina: Altaforte“
- “Social Credit: An Impact“
- Two Cantos with Recordings of Pound’s Recitations
- “What is Money For?“
Poetic Tributes to Pound:
- Robinson Jeffers, “War-Guilt Trials“
- Leo Yankevich, “Ezra Pound Enters the Tent“
- Anonymous, “Ezra Pound and Vivaldi“
- Kerry Bolton, “Breaking the Bondage of Usury,” Part 2 and Part 3
- Kerry Bolton, “Ezra Pound” from Artists of the Right
- Jonathan Bowden, “Ezra Pound” (audio version)
- Alex Fontana, “Ezra Pound on Endless Trial“
- Adam Franz, “Ezra Pound’s Jefferson and/or Mussolini“
- Andrew Hamilton, “A Yankee Poet in Greenwich Village“
- Carolina Hartley, “Ezra Pound on Money“
- Carolina Hartley, “James Angleton and Ezra Pound“
- Beatrice Mott, “This Difficult Individual Eustace Mullins — and the Remarkable Ezra Pound“
- Michael Collins Piper, “What Did Ezra Pound Really Say?“
- Quintilian, “Ezra Pound’s Guide to Kulchur“
- Miguel Serrano, “The Death of Ezra Pound“
- Miguel Serrano, “Ezra Pound and the Angel“
- Stead Steadman, “Pagan Pound“
Pound is also frequently tagged in Counter-Currents articles dealing with art and economics.
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Thanks so much for the reading recommendations. I tried to enter Pound’s poetry years ago, but gave up as it just didn’t speak to me. But I didn’t know about these essays that you mention. That’s one more thing among the many I’ve learned from these remembrances here at CC. By the way, is there a “remembrance” of Gottfried Benn?
Not yet, but eventually.
Thanks for this. I need to reattempt reading Pound and will start with something mentioned in this piece. Years ago, I made the mistake of starting with Guide to Kulchur and had no clue what he was talking about most of the time. It also took a long time to get through because of the constant pauses to look up the multitude of people and work he references that I was completely unaware of.
Start with Impact: Essays on Ignorance and the Decline of American Civilization (Chicago: Henry Regnery Company, 1960).
Will do, thanks!
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