Ezra Pound

(30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972 / Hailey / Idaho)

Ezra Pound Quotes

  • ''In verse one can take any damn constant one likes, one can alliterate, or assone, or rhyme, or quant, or smack, only one MUST leave the other elements irregular.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Letter, July 30, 1920, to Ford Madox Ford. Published in Pound/Ford: The Story of a Literary Friendship, ed. Brita Lindberg-Seyersted (1982).
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  • ''AS A MIND, who the hell else is there left for me to take an interest IN??''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. letter, Aug. 28, 1934. quoted in A Serious Character, pt. 3, ch. 13, Humphrey Carpenter (1988). referring to Mussolini. In the opening lines of Canto 74, first of Pound's Pisan Cantos (written in 1948 while he was awaiting trial for treason), Pound spoke of "the enormous tragedy of the dream in the peasant's bent shoulders." Interviewed in May 1945, he had described Mussolini as "a very human, imperfect character who lost his head."
  • ''I guess the definition of a lunatic is a man surrounded by them.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Quoted in Charles Olson and Ezra Pound, Catherine Seelye (1975). Said to poet and critic Charles Olson in 1945, when Olson visited Pound in Howard Hall, the institution for the criminally insane in which Pound was detained pending a judgment on his wartime broadcasts from Rome.
  • ''If I could believe the Quakers banned music because church music is so damn bad, I should view them with approval.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. letter, Aug. 23, 1917, to Pound's father. quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 1, ch. 2 (1988). Pound's grandfather was a Quaker.
  • ''The worst mistake I made was that stupid, suburban prejudice of anti-Semitism.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 5 (1988). Said in conversation with Allen Ginsberg in June 1968.
  • ''You let me throw the bricks through the front window. You go in at the back and take the swag.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 2, ch. 13 (1988). Remark to poet T.S. Eliot, reported by Pound acolyte and critic Hugh Kenner.
  • ''It ought to be illegal for an artist to marry.... If the artist must marry let him find someone more interested in art, or his art, or the artist part of him, than in him. After which let them take tea together three times a week.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Letter, 1909, to his mother. quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 2, ch. 3 (1988).
  • ''I have always thought the suicide shd/ bump off at least one swine before taking off for parts unknown.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. letter, Sept. 10, 1956, to poet Archibald MacLeish. quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 5, ch. 3 (1988).
  • ''A man of genius has a right to any mode of expression.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. letter, Feb. 4, 1918, to the painter J.B. Yeats (father of W.B. Yeats). quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 2, ch. 10 (1988).
  • ''With one day's reading a man may have the key in his hands.''
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Canto 74, Pisan Cantos (1948). In contrast, Pound had once confided to William Carlos Williams that, "It is not necessary to read everything in a book in order to speak intelligently of it," adding, "Don't tell everybody I said so." (Quoted in Williams' Kora in Hell (1920) p.13).

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Best Poem of Ezra Pound

A Girl

The tree has entered my hands,
The sap has ascended my arms,
The tree has grown in my breast -
Downward,
The branches grow out of me, like arms.

Tree you are,
Moss you are,
You are violets with wind above them.
A child - so high - you are,
And all this is folly to the world.

Read the full of A Girl

Histrion

No man hath dared to write this thing as yet,
And yet I know, how that the souls of all men great
At times pass athrough us,
And we are melted into them, and are not
Save reflexions of their souls.
Thus am I Dante for a space and am
One Francois Villon, ballad-lord and thief,
Or am such holy ones I may not write
Lest blasphemy be writ against my name;

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