Poet. essayist, and radio broadcaster, Ezra Loomis Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho on this day in 1885.

In 1907, Pound became a professor of Romance languages at Wabash Presbyterian College, Crawfordsville, Indiana. However a few months later, in February 1908 he packed his bags and went to Europe where he lived the majority of the rest of his life.

In England, he published his first book of poems, Personae in 1909. A few years later in 1912 Pound was hired by Poetry, a small literary magazine at the time, to be its London correspondent. He enhanced the magazine’s stature and quickly became a major force in Anglo-American verse. He not only wrote his own poetry, but he also discovered, mentored, edited, reviewed or first published many of the early 20th century’s best known English language writers. Among those whose careers he influenced:

  • D.H. Lawrence
  • William Carlos Williams
  • Robert Frost
  • Hilda Doolittle
  • James Joyce
  • T.S. Eliott
    Ezra Pound said, “The real trouble with war (modern war) is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people.”

In 1939 he returned to the United States, hoping to keep the peace between the U.S. and Italy. Disappointed he returned to Italy and beginning in 1941 he made several hundred broadcasts over Rome radio on a variety of topics. However, a number of his broadcasts condemned the U.S. war effort. Because of this he was arrested by U.S. forces in 1945 and imprisoned. He was sent back to the United States to face trial for treason but was pronounced “insane and mentally unfit for trial” by a panel of doctors Pound spent the next 12 years (1946–58) in Saint Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane in Washington, D.C. He remained productive during that time, writing numerous poems, translating ancient Chinese poetry, and Sophocles Trachiniai (Women of Trachis). However, two years after he was released Pound went silent, never to write again. He died in 1972 in Venice.

During his 60 years of writing and publishing activity, he wrote 70 books of his own, contributed to about 70 others, and wrote more than 1500 articles.

 

A Girl – Poem by Ezra Pound

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.

 

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