I’m reading Pound

8 May

“What are you reading?” my friend inquired in a recent e-mail; I replied, “Pound.”  In looking through the bookcase at this very scholarly house where we now reside, I came across a book by A. David Moody, Ezra Pound, Poet: the Man and his Works.  As it turns out, it’s only the first of three volumes, this one published in 2007.  Without footnotes and indexes, it runs over 400 pages long.  Can you imagine being worthy of three such volumes?  But just seeing the title I was reminded of another day, scores long past, when I was 13 or 14.  I was on a train.  I was either going from Phoenix to Pasadena – or in the reverse direction; my parents lived in different climes and I was a frequent traveler.  I sat next to a woman who at the time appeared to me to be very old; she reminded me of my grandmother with white hair braided into a bun and hands that fluttered.  As the cadence of the train crossed the Southern California landscape she wove a story drawn from her patchwork quilt of memory about a friendship, a lost friendship ,with Ezra Pound when they were both young and living in Paris; I think it was during the 20s.  There was a wistfulness about the tale – as though perhaps she had once loved him.  At the time my knowledge of Pound was scant yet I knew he was a poet admired by my Mother — or perhaps it was my stepfather.  I remember feeling privileged to hear this story about a famous man of whom I had only heard and it spoke of a world of which I wanted to become a part.  My teenage mind envisioned a world in which I might exchange repartee with Dorothy Parker or snappy dialogue with Scott Fitzgerald — or perhaps one day drink champagne at the Algonguin or walk along the Seine after a night of too much wine coupled with too much philosophizing.  As it turned out I never read much of Ezra Pound for my teenage taste for poetry ran to Millay and Dickinson.  Except for an occasional answer to a clue in the New York Times crossword puzzle (although sometimes the answer turns out to be Ezra Cornell), I never thought much of him again.  Until now.  Finally, all these decades later, I am reading the poetry of Ezra Pound.

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