Who is Ezra Pound?

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  • Written By: Diana Bocco
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 04 October 2019
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Ezra Weston Loomis Pound was born on 30 October 1885 in Hailey, Idaho, United States. Better known for being one of the driving forces behind several groups of the Modernist movement, Ezra Pound had a notable influence on the arts since early on in his life. While still in University, he befriended poets Hilda Doolittle and William Carlos Williams, and shortly after graduation, he became head teacher at the prestigious Wabash College, in Indiana.

Ezra Pound set sail for Europe in 1908, stopping by Venice briefly before settling in London, where he was well received by the local literary movement. He soon befriended W. B. Yeats, his literary hero, and even worked for him as a typist on and off. Together, they translated Japanese plays and worked on rough versions of ancient Chinese poetry.

Influenced by other figures of the time, Ezra Pound started the Imagism movement, which rejected the popular forms of Romantic poetry and favored simple, clear language. Many famous writers of the time, including Williams, Robert Frost, and James Joyce, quickly joined the movement.

Ezra Pound married artist Dorothy Shakespear in 1914, and both moved together throughout Europe for the following decade, finally settling in Italy by the mid-1920's to care for his elderly parents, who had moved there in search of a peaceful retirement. Pound later confessed that one other reason for his stay in Italy was the fact that his long-time mistress, Olga Rudge, had given birth to his only daughter.


During the Second World War, Ezra Pound sided with Mussolini's regime, and openly criticized the United States for getting involved in the fight. Ezra Pound was also responsible for much of the propaganda to help Mussolini establish a new independent republic in the north of Italy.

Arrested for treason by US forces, Ezra Pound was confined to St. Elizabeth's mental hospital for 12 years. Immediately after being released, he returned to Italy, where he spent the following 11 years sharing a home with Olga Rudge. Ezra Pound died in Venice on 1 November 1972. Some of his best known works include The Cantos (1915), Homage to Sextus Propertius (1919), and Cavalcanti, a three-act opera (1933).


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