Thursday, March 31, 2011

Ezra Pound and the Lost Generation

So what are we to make of Ezra Pound today? He's a modernist who is rooted firmly in the past. He's of the lost generation, and his reputation is seemingly lost forever.

His tight and unadorned language helped shape the work of the likes of TS Eliot, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and Robert Frost, but ultimately their stars shone brighter than his.

It seems Pound was even more lost than the other members of the Lost Generation who he influenced. The American living in Britain turned away from capitalism in disgust at the loss of life in the First World War only to embrace another killing machine, that of fascism and the anti semitism that swept Europe in the 1930s and 1940s. He remains a controversial figure today.

Still there's something simple and cleansing about this poem. It captures the mood of spring and April, a month Eliot was to describe as the cruelist month.

A Virginal by Ezra Pound

No, no! Go from me. I have left her lately.
I will not spoil my sheath with lesser brightness,
For my surrounding air hath a new lightness;
Slight are her arms, yet they have bound me straitly
And left me cloaked as with a gauze of aether;
As with sweet leaves; as with subtle clearness.
Oh, I have picked up magic in her nearness
To sheathe me half in half the things that sheathe her.
No, no! Go from me. I have still the flavour,
Soft as spring wind that's come from birchen bowers.
Green come the shoots, aye April in the branches,
As winter's wound with her sleight hand she staunches,
Hath of the trees a likeness of the savour:
As white their bark, so white this lady's hours.


  1. What a lovely poem, I enjoyed it! Thank you for stumbling across my blog, am folllowing yours too now. ;-)

    And, I thought your Liz Taylor post is a fine tribute. We don't make stars like that anymmore do we?

  2. Hi Talei - thanks so much for the follo, particularly on my little read blog. You're so right re Liz