Ezra Pound: His Metric and Poetry
Thomas Stearns Eliot
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There are twenty people who have their opinion of him for every one who has read his writings with any care. Of those twenty, there will be some who are shocked, some who are ruffled, some who are irritated, and one or two whose sense of dignity is outraged. The twenty first critic will probably be one who knows and admires some of the poems, but who either says: "Pound is primarily a scholar, a translator," or "Pound's early verse was beautiful; his later work shows nothing better than the itch for advertisement, a mischievous desire to be annoying, or a childish desire to be original". There is a third type of reader, rare enough, who has perceived Mr. Pound for some years, who has followed his career intelligently, and who recognizes its consistency. This essay is not written for the first twenty critics of literature, nor for that rare twenty second who has just been mentioned, but for the admirer of a poem here or there, whose appreciation is capable of yielding him a larger return. If the reader is already at the stage where he can maintain at once the two propositions, "Pound is merely a scholar" and "Pound is merely a yellow journalist", or the other two propositions, "Pound is merely a technician" and "Pound is merely a prophet of chaos", then there is very little hope. But there are readers of poetry who have not yet reached this hypertrophy of the logical faculty; their attention might be arrested, not by an outburst of praise, but by a simple statement. The present essay aims merely at such a statement. It is not intended to be either a biographical or a critical study. It will not dilate upon "beauties" it is a summary account of ten years' work in poetry.