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Today’s Birthday: Ezra Pound

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October 30, 2016

In 1885 on this day Ezra Pound was born. What can we say about Ezra Pound? Born of all places in frontier Idaho but spent his life as one of the exiles of the Lost Generation. Unquestionably, next only to close friend T. S. Eliot, the most important poet of the first part of the 20th century. Author of the most significant epic poem of the century, The Cantos. Controversial in life and in literature. The ultimate High Modernist, yet a precursor of Postmodernism in many ways. Influencer deluxe. All the big poets visited Ezra Pound in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in D. C. in the years before his death in 1972.

To commemorate, here are some quotes from his how to be a critic book, ABC of Reading from 1934:

Literature is language charged with meaning. Great Literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost degree possible.

The critic who doesn’t make a personal statement, in re measurements he himself has made, is merely an unreliable critic. He is not a measurer but a repeater of other men’s results.

The fogged language of swindling classes serves only a temporary purpose.

A nation which neglects the perceptions of its artists declines. After a while it ceases to act, and merely survives. There is probably no use in telling this to people who can’t see it without being told.


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