Friday, January 07, 2005

Ezra Pound

A friend of mine, a bookish sort of man, died recently, and his widow has passed on to me a couple of his possessions which she thought might be of interest; as indeed they are.

One of these items is a handwritten copy of a poem by Ezra Pound; copied out, I suspect, by one of my friend's pupils. I won't quote all of it, because if I did I would run the risk of being beaten up in some dark alley by the copyright police, but the final five lines are as follows:

O God, O Venus, O Mercury, patron of thieves,
Lend me a little tobacco shop,
or install me in any profession
Save this damn'd profession of writing
where one needs one's brains all the time.

It turns out that the title of this poem is 'The Lake Isle', and I must say I found it quite amusing. What is more, it is the second readable poem by Pound that I have come across in recent weeks: the first being one on Venice, contained in Michelle Lovric's excellent anthology, Venice -- Tales of the City. If this goes on I may have to break the habit of a lifetime and start reading poetry on a serious basis.

Should you wish to read the full version of the Pound poem you can find it here. I know very little about the man, but there are of course lots of pages about him on the web, including a brief biography. I do remember him being released from hospital in 1958. In that year I met a young man who was working behind the counter in a fast-food joint in Times Square but who was, he assured me, a writer really; to be precise, a poet. He was considerably exercised by what he saw as the persecution of a great man.

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