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Ezra Pound
American poet
(1885-1972)


Ezra Pound, 1913 (image)

Ezra Pound, 1913

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He hath not heart for harping, nor in ring-having
Nor winsomeness to wife, nor world's delight
Nor any whit else save the wave's slash,
Yet longing comes upon him to fare forth on the water.
Bosque takes blossom, cometh beauty of berries.
-- 'The Seafarer' (1912), from the Anglo-Saxon

It is better to present one image in a lifetime than to produce voluminous work.
Image…that which presents an intellectual and emotional complex in an instant of time.
-- "Poetry: A Few Don'ts by an Imagist", in: Poetry: A Magazine of Verse (March 1913)

One discards rhyme, not because one is incapable of rhyming neat, fleet, sweet, meet, treat, eat, feet but because there are certain emotions or energies which are nor represented by the over-familiar devices or patterns.
-- "Affirmations: As for Imagism", in: The New Age, January 1915

Poetry must be as well written as prose.
-- Letter to Harriet Monroe (January 1915)

While my hair was still cut straight across my forehead
I played about the front gate, pulling flowers.
You came by on bamboo stilts, playing horse;
You walked about my seat, playing with blue plums.
And we went on living in the village of Chokan:
Two small people, without dislike or suspicion.

At fourteen I married My Lord you.
I never laughed, being bashful.
Lowering my head, I looked at the wall.
Called to, a thousand times, I never looked back.

At fifteen I stopped scowling,
I desired my dust to be mingled with yours
Forever and forever and forever.
Why should I climb the lookout?

At sixteen you departed,
You went into far Ku-to-en, by the river of swirling eddies,
And you have been gone five months.
The monkeys make sorrowful noise overhead.
You dragged your feet when you went out.
By the gate now, the moss is grown, the different mosses,
Too deep to clear them away!
The leaves fall early this autumn, in wind.
The paired butterflies are already yellow with August
Over the grass in the West garden --
They hurt me.
I grow older.
If you are coming down through the narrows of the river,
Please let me know beforehand,
And I will come out to meet you
As far as Cho-fo-Sa.
-- 'The River Merchant's Wife' (1915), after the Chinese of Rihaku (Li Po)

Who brought this to pass?
Who has brought the flaming imperial anger?
Who has brought the army with drums and with kettle-drums?
Barbarous kings.
A gracious spring, turned to blood-ravenous autumn,
A turmoil of wars-men, spread over the middle kingdom,
Three hundred and sixty thousand,
And sorrow, sorrow like rain.
-- 'Lament of the Frontier Guard' , in: Cathay, 1915)

The apparition of these faces in the crowd;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
-- ‘In a Station of the Metro’ (1916)

Winter is icummen in,
Lhude sing Goddamm,
Raineth drop and staineth slop,
And how the wind doth ramm!
Sing: Goddamm.
- ‘Ancient Music’ (1917)

Died some, pro patria,
non ‘dulce’ non ‘et decor’…
walked eye-deep in hell
believing in old men's lies, the unbelieving
came home, home to a lie.
-- Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), 'E. P. Ode ...', pt. 4

There died a myriad,
And of the best, among them,
For an old bitch gone in the teeth,
For a botched civilization.
-- Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), 'E. P. Ode ...', pt. 5

Hang it all, Robert Browning, there can be but the one "Sordello."
-- Draft of XXX Cantos (1930), No.2

And even I can remember
A day when the historians left blanks in their writings,
I mean for things they didn't know.
But that time seems to be passing.
-- Draft of XXX Cantos (1930), no. 13

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.
-- How to Read (1930), Pt. II

The author's conviction on this day of the New Year is that music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance; that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music.
-- The ABC of Reading (1934)

One of the pleasures of middle age is to find out that one WAS right, and that one was much righter than one knew at say 17 or 23.
-- The ABC of Reading (1934), ch. 1, 2

Literature is news that STAYS news.
-- The ABC of Reading (1934), ch. 2

AT ABOUT THIS POINT the weak-hearted reader usually sits down in the road, removes his shoes and weeps that he 'is a bad linguist' or that he or she can't possibly learn all those languages. One has to divide the readers who want to be experts from those who do not, and divide, as it were, those who want to see the world from those who merely want to know WHAT PART OF IT THEY LIVE IN.
-- The ABC of Reading (1934)

Real education must ultimately be limited to one who INSISTS on knowing, the rest is mere sheep-herding.
-- The ABC of Reading (1934), ch. 8

But the one thing you shd. not do is suppose that when something is wrong with the arts, it is wrong with the arts ONLY.
-- Guide to Kulchur (1938)

With usura hath no man a house of good stone
each block cut smooth and well fitting
-- Cantos (1954), no. 45

Tching prayed on the mountain and
wrote MAKE IT NEW
on his bath tub.
-- Cantos (1954), no. 53

What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov’st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov’st well is thy true heritage
-- Cantos (1954), no. 53

Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
-- Cantos (1954), no. 81

Put down thy VANITY
Thou are a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in the fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst'ou wing from tail.
-- Pisan Cantos (1948), no. 81


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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