Lustra is an extended selection of short poems by Ezra Pound, printed in 1916, and written during the preceding years of 1913?1916. Much has been written of the extraordinary life, character, and politics of Ezra Pound; however, I would like to draw some attention, if I can, to a delicate half forgotten work from a time of genesis--the brief years of tension before the great war--a time in which the artistic revolution that had begun with Flaubert and Baudelaire began to crystallise. More than this, though, I ...
Lustra is an extended selection of short poems by Ezra Pound, printed in 1916, and written during the preceding years of 1913–1916. Much has been written of the extraordinary life, character, and politics of Ezra Pound; however, I would like to draw some attention, if I can, to a delicate half forgotten work from a time of genesis--the brief years of tension before the great war--a time in which the artistic revolution that had begun with Flaubert and Baudelaire began to crystallise. More than this, though, I would hope to alert some contemporary poets of the tense simplicity of style, and rigorous theory and discipline that set them free in the beginning. But that would be over ambitious, so me let instead make this a recommendation of a good collection of poetry--more accessible than you might think, and a window into the mysteries of an author too often held quietly within the circles of academia.
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and a major figure of the early modernist movement. His contribution to poetry began with his promotion of Imagism, a movement that derived its technique from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, stressing clarity, precision and economy of language. His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), and his unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos (1917–1969).
Working in London in the early 20th century as foreign editor of several American literary magazines, Pound helped to discover and shape the work of contemporaries such as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Robert Frost, and Ernest Hemingway. He was responsible for the publication in 1915 of Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and for the serialization from 1918 of Joyce's Ulysses. Hemingway wrote of him in 1925: "He defends [his friends] when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. ... He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets publishers to take their books. He sits up all night with them when they claim to be dying ... he advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide."
Outraged by the loss of life during the First World War, he lost faith in England, blaming the war on usury and international capitalism. He moved to Italy in 1924 where throughout the 1930s and 1940s, to his friends' dismay, he embraced Benito Mussolini's fascism, expressed support for Adolf Hitler, and wrote for publications owned by the British fascist Oswald Mosley. The Italian government paid him during the Second World War to make hundreds of radio broadcasts criticizing the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in particular Jews—broadcasts that were monitored by the U.S. government—as a result of which he was arrested for treason by American forces in Italy in 1945. He spent months in detention in a U.S. military camp in Pisa, including 25 days in a six-by-six-foot outdoor steel cage that he said triggered a mental breakdown: "when the raft broke and the waters went over me." Deemed unfit to stand trial, a decision disputed for decades after his death, he was incarcerated in St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., for over 12 years. While in custody in Italy he had begun work on sections of The Cantos that became known as The Pisan Cantos (1948).