EZRA POUND: THE LAST ROWER: A Political Profile by C. David Heymann
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The Fascists already knew very well that he was a lunatic when he began broadcasting for them in January, 1941. He was taken into custody on May 3, 1945 and held in a tiger cage; indicted for treason and judged of unsound mind on February 3, 1946. He was not released from St. Elizabeth's until April 18, 1958; and he spent the rest of his life, until 1972, in shame and silence--aphasic, will-less, barely lucid enough to realize ""I was wrong . . . . ""A literary storm has raged about him for thirty years, because the unprecedented case of Ezra Pound--fascist, anti-Semite, one of history's greatest poets, entails this conundrum: can a mad dog create art? Heymann skirts that issue, but he has provided a great service to those who will go on debating it for years to come, with new material drawn from the just-released fourteen-volume FBI Erie on Ezra Pound. By 1939, Pound had done his best work, which is cursorily noted by Heymann. This focuses on the ugly, degenerative time when the poet, always querulous, vituperative and strident in the name of his beliefs, redirected his energy to a hyper-naive, paranoid theory of utopian economics. Henry Wallace, who agreed, in lieu of FDR, to listen to Pound's crackbrained babble on his 1939 mission to save the world from ""usura"" and ""the Jews,"" later commented: ""I do not think he intended to hurt the USA. But I do think he operated in a different world from most of us."" This well documented and highly informative biography has also got to break your heart--the retelling of Pound's fateful route to hell is as tragic as a classic myth, with Pound waylaid by his pride and, worse, dishonored for all time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1975
Publisher: Viking