Saturday, August 23, 2008

A Pound of Hemingway

For a lad who was advised in high school to stop writing because he had no talent, the late Ernest Hemingway managed to get forward pretty well with prose. He wrote limpid English, but this did not prevent him from having the warmest admiration for Pound and Joyce and certain other writers of the nonlimpid school. He is said to have learned much about the handling of words from Gertrude Stein, a poet not famous for limpidity.

Wyndham Lewis wrote of a visit to Pound's Paris studio:

"A splendidly built young man, stript to the waist, and with a torso of dazzling white, was standing not far from me. He was tall, handsome and serene, and was repelling with his boxing gloves--I thought without undue exertion--a hectic assault of Ezra's. After a final swing at the dazzling solar plexus (parried effortlessly by the trousered statue) Pound fell back upon the settee. The young man was Hemingway."

A Kind Word for Ezra Pound

In 1936, from his home in Rapallo, Pound wrote to Hemingway, "Waal, me deah Hembe Glad to see you doing man's wolk * * *" and followed with unprintable characterizations of such things as the world of high finance--outside of Mussolini's Italy, that is.

When Pound had been judged insane and placed in a Washington mental institution after he had been indicted for treason, Hemingway interceded for him:

"Ezra Pound was a great poet and whatever he did has been greatly punished and I believe he should be freed to go and write poems in Italy, where he is loved and understood."

(Books, The New York Times, July 6, 1961)

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