Location: Baltimore, Maryland, United States

Studied in Govt. College, Lahore, Punjab University,Peshawar University & Zagreb University(Croatia). Started writing when in 7th class. Wrote prose & poetry,Have published writings in almost every Pakistani Urdu & English magazine and newspaper,held important positions in many literary and professional organizations. worked as a teacher, research scientist and industrial management professional, In the words of Arthur Miller I have always felt as being temporary. That is why there was no significant achievement.

Sunday, February 26, 2006


Dr Afzal Mirza

Ezra Pound’s biographer David Heyman writes of the poet’s predicament at the time of fall of Italy in these words,” Then on April 28,1945 Pound’s universe crumbled completely. Benito Mussolini attempting to escape was caught and killed on the shore of Lake Como by angered partisans…. A day or two later without firing a shot the Americans occupied Rapallo. The next day they came for him. They were not Americans but communist partigiani. There were two of them both armed with Tommy guns. The poet, his Legge Four Books opened wide on the desk, was working on a translation of the Book of Mencius. Olga Rudge had gone into town to buy the paper. Dorothy Pound was paying the weekly visit to Ezra’s aging mother in Rapallo. Rumor has it that the gun butts sounded twice against the door. Pound went to open. Ezra slipped the Confucius and the Chinese dictionary into his pocket and left the keys with the girl who lived on the first floor. He preceded the two men down the winding mountain trail to a waiting car. He was handcuffed and driven away.” Thus one of the most remarkable poets of the twentieth century who coined the term Imagism was driven away and handed to the Counter Intelligence Center Genoa for interrogation. What Pound said during those investigations is still buried in the archives of the Department of Justice in Washington D.C. but he was moved to Detention Training Center Pisa. This is the town of Italy known for the famous leaning tower of Pisa. In the Center the war criminals mostly murderers and rapists who were about to be executed were detained in iron cages. Pound’s cage was tenth at the end. Pound called his cage “gabbia” gorilla cage. It was six by six and a half feet. A tarpaper roof provided little shelter from sun or rain. By night a special reflector shed glaring light onto his cage alone. He slept on the cold cement floor and ate the meager food once a day. His toilet was a tin can. For three weeks he was kept in the cage. He couldn’t stand the strain and collapsed. He lost his memory and became extremely thin and weak. Then he was taken out of the cage and lodged in a large tent in the medical part of the camp. Impressed by his fame as a poet, the medical staff allowed him to use the type writer of the dispensary. On it he typed his poetry—the Cantos that became his identity.
and there was a smell of mint under the tent flaps
especially after the rain
and a white ox on the road towards Pisa
as if facing the tower….
(Canto LXXIV)
He wrote as if he would not survive the experience, as if he expected to be shot at any time. In the meantime his friends in States started a bid to trace him and get him freed. Six months after his imprisonment the poet was handcuffed and flown from Rome to Washington. As he stepped from the plane photographers and reporters clustered around him on the airport.It reminded of the days before the beginning of the World War II when in 1939 he had returned to the United States his home country from Italy.
Born in Hailey, Idaho, Ezra Pound studied at the University of Pennsylvania for his Masters degree. Cutting short his teaching career as an instructor at Wabash College Indiana in 1908, he set sail for Europe and stayed in Venice for several months. He liked this city of canals with its rich heritage of art and history. He wrote here several poems and compiled his first book of poetry. But after several months pecuniary problems drove him to London. Finally settling in London, he met his hero, W. B. Yeats and befriended many literary personalities who were yet the beginners. The leading literary figures of that period were James, Conrad, Hardy and H.G. Wells --all stars of fiction and Shaw in theatre. Between 1908 and 1911 he published six collections of verse, most of it dominated by a passion for Provençal and early Italian poetry. Modernizing his style, he launched the Imagist movement in 1912, advocating concreteness, economy, and free verse. The range and brilliance of Pound's contacts in all the arts convinced him that London was to be the centre of a new Renaissance. He cast himself in the role of an editor contributing to Yeats's mature style, discovering and promoting Joyce and Eliot.
Attracted to Mussolini by his energy and his promises of monetary reform, Pound naïvely assumed that the Italian leader could be persuaded to put Douglas's theory into practice. At first, the main target of Pound's attacks was 'usury', which he depicted (e.g. in Canto 45) as an unnatural force that polluted the creative instinct in humanity. By about 1930 the usurers he condemned were usually Jews. In the later 1930s Pound devoted much of his energy to defending fascism and trying to avert war. In 1939 he had returned to the United States as a self-styled peace broker in a bid to prevent the war to happen Then he was in his mid-fifties and had already made a name as a poet and a literary figure in the circle of W.B.Yeats, T.S.Eliot, William Carlos Williams, Ernest Hemingway. E.E.Cummings and others. His friends advised him not to express his political views in America but restrict himself to economic field. The foremost question in every one’s mind was; would there be a war? He met the press at the harbor and his defense of Mussolini and his policies and remarks about contemporary writers and books raised a furor. “I regard the literature of social significance as of no significance. It is pseudo-pink blah.” He told everywhere that Mussolini represented the only logical answer to bourgeois materialism and Marxist determinism. He painted a pessimistic picture of the future of United States and his friend Carlos William wrote later,” The man is sunk, in my opinion, unless he can shake the fog of fascism out of his brain during the next few years which I seriously doubt that he can do.” He left again for Italy leaving behind lot of controversial speeches, statements and writings in America that supported fascism.
Back in Italy he started a full-fledged onslaught on the Allied powers through the media and in support of Hitler and Mussolini while the war ravaged. His return to America in 1945 was as a sixty years’ old prisoner set for trial on charges of treason. The defense attorney took the plea of insanity of his client and contacted his old friends for their testimonies. Hemingway wrote back that he could attest to Pound’s madness and believed that his friend’s mind and judgment had become progressively impaired over the past ten years with occasional flashes of brilliance. He blamed the poet’s condition partially on the false flattery of an unscrupulous few who had taken advantage of his “ever-mounting vanity”. The evidence was collected to prove that Pound was no longer of sound mind. So he was sent to St. Elizabeths purgatory (hospital)until his sanity was restored. Ezra Pound remained in purgatory until 1958. In 1957 some of his friends and admirers started a campaign to get him freed from purgatory. Among them were people like Robert Frost, Eliot, Hemingway, Norman Mailer, James Kilpatrick, Dag Hammerskjold and others. He was officially discharged from St. Elizabeths on May 7, 1958 and sailed for Italy again with his family on the last day of June. He announced,” “after the fogs of London and Paris I have found in Rapallo sunshine and possibility of renewing myself; it had been a good place for poetry. It was actually the place where most of the Cantos were written.” Based in Italy Pound made short visits to other European countries and a two-week stay in US as well but during the tail end of his life he settled in Venice---the city where he had landed in 1907. Absorbed in his own universe he spent the last days of life in that city of canals. During those silent years he celebrated his 87th birthday. Two weeks before his birthday he read at a small café for an intimate gathering of friends the final fragment of his The Cantos:
I have tried to write paradise
Do not move
Let the wind speak that is paradise
Let the Gods forgive what I have made
Let those I love try to forgive what I have made
(Post Script to The Cantos)
Ezra Pound whom James Joyce called “the unpredictable bundle of electricity” and T.S.Eliot termed as “the one responsible for the twentieth century revolution in poetry” passed away in sleep peacefully in 1972 in Venice.(The End)


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