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Why Pound!?!
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Why Pound!?!

Best done quickly, sans any 'reasons' of expected kind—for example, my first solid edition of the Cantos dated 1950 (still here with me), recall pondering its modes and information much as I had earlier the Draft of XXX Cantos in the confusions of Burmese jungle warfare. Caught now by what then held me, e.g., marks in margin apropos:

Life to make mock of motion . . .

in the mind of heaven God
who made it
more than the sun
in our eye . . .

dawn stands there fixed and unmoving
                      only we two have moved . . .

Etc. All this noted now at random, i.e., I am not presenting a case but rather recalling how those sounds and their moving, and the insistent stance of an active (possible!) intelligence, then moved me (as it surely did my eventual company: Ginsberg, Blackburn, Duncan, Olson, for those immediate). Had I thought the whole world reflective , pondering the possible significances of what was


long gone? No doubt. I know I expected 'college' to educate me, and when it didn't, it still wasn't that simple to admit Pound's insistent demand that one must learn to learn what one had to. That was work!

I wrote to him, in the late 40s, and was absolutely gratified by the reply: What have you read? "Ogden rather dead, etc., etc." So this was an art, and not just subject matter. That fact alone changed my life.

British poet once said to me, poets in England come just after tv reviewers—this in Shakespeare's country. I couldn't at first believe it . . . Pound proposed the power of poetry, that it was primarily as "tales of the tribe"—what it means, collectively and as one, to use language as means to score the life of the mind and body. As Ginsberg says, first poet of our accessible time to reclaim poetry as sound. Also Ginsberg's emphasis, on hearing of Pound's death: that the Cantos are first articulate record/graph of mind/emotions continuous over fifty years. That is very interesting.

This side of the water we need heroes, models of active human context, call it—I mean, people who make clear a life can be lived specifically, not just drifted along with, that choice is crucial, certainly in mind. Pound took it all on, was not, as Olson remarked in another context, "an epicene poet"—"Like Pope." No power that finally matters, either in person or in poetry—'descriptive.'

The messy 'lives' are no doubt those who do go for broke, are possessed by the "gigantism" remarked by British reviewer of American poet's recent collection: "a poet of the widest apprehensions and comprehensions, and this without the gigantism that so haunts American poetic ambition." Of course we can have a 'place' if we're careful.


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