THE AMERICAN EZRA POUND by Wendy Stallard Flory


Email this review


Flory (Ezra Pound and the Cantos, 1980) delivers an eloquent pro-Pound oration in defense of the poet's notorious role in propagating treason and anti-Semitism in Fascist Italy during WW II. Pound's cautionary tale reminds us that artistic genius and political correctness don't necessarily go hand in hand. Flory's penetrating case study attempts to reveal, in all his various guises and disguises, Pound the man--master Imagist, pioneer translator, and advocate of genius (Williams, Frost, Eliot, and Joyce, et al.)--obscured behind our cultural caricature of Pound as Fascist Poetry Doctor: the Victorian youth steeped in the reforming tradition of that heritage; the bohemian esthete, hovering on the fringes of Keynes' Bloomsbury, where politics and art were a given conjunction; the officious polymath of "visionary economics," misguided supporter of Mussolini; and, tragically, the prisoner of Pisa, arrested by the victorious American Army in 1945 and placed on exhibit like a raging beast in a cage, his mind diseased, "the very qualities of intelligence and imagination which made of him a great poet having now become the means of his undoing." After 12 years' confinement, at St. Elizabeths, Pound returned to Italy, his "palpable Elysium," exhausted, broken both in pocket and in spirit--the great mind convinced not that he had abandoned America, but that America, by violating the sanctity of the "national convenant," had abandoned him, her native son. A humbling book, situating Pound precisely in his time, place, and circumstance--and constituting not a poetic cover-up of his politics but a make-whole effort to restore to him his all-too-fallible humanity.

Pub Date: April 19th, 1989
ISBN: 300-04236-1
Publisher: Yale Univ.
Review Posted Online: