Ezra Pound: University of Delaware Library.

After Pound

Pound cast a long shadow over literary modernism, beginning with those writers he directly supported and promoted, and he continued to exert an influence over younger writers well into the second half of the twentieth century. Charles Olson was one of Pound’s first visitors to St. Elizabeths; a committed anti-fascist, he later drifted from Pound’s circle but never renounced his debt to the older writer as a mentor. His Maximus Poems are a Cantos-like kaleidoscope of poetry. Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan both corresponded with Pound while he was in the hospital; the Black Mountain School of poetry, with which Creeley, Duncan and Denise Levertov were all associated, took Pound’s modernism a step further. Duncan served as secretary to H.D. in her later years, and Creeley was close with Zukofsky and William Carlos Williams. Allen Ginsberg visited Pound in Venice in 1967—it was to Ginsberg that Pound reportedly said, “the worst mistake I made was that stupid, suburban prejudice of anti-Semitism.” Furthering the connection between the generations, William Carlos Williams wrote the introduction to Ginsberg’s seminal poem Howl. The elusive American poet Jack Gilbert visited Pound in Merano in 1960. When Gilbert asked if Pound thought that younger poets would continue in the high modernist tradition of Pound’s Cantos, Pound, after twenty minutes’ silence, said, “No, what I have done for the young poets is to make it possible for them to put things in their poems.”

Pound’s legacy was further advanced in the works of poets such as Lorine Niedecker, Paul Blackburn (whose translations of troubadour poets were directly influenced by Pound’s earlier work on the same writers) and Guy Davenport, the Language Poets, such as Charles Bernstein and Jackson Mac Low, the oblique and musical ruminations of John Ashbery, the narrative rhythms of Charles Wright. Pound’s famous dictum to “make it new”, the movement he created and the works he championed still resonate in modern literature.

  • Lorine Niedecker. New Goose. Prairie City, Illinois: Press of James A. Decker, 1946.
  • Robert Creeley. Le Fou. Columbus: Golden Goose Press, 1952.
  • Paul Blackburn. Proensa: from the Provençal of Guillem de Peitau, Arnaut de Marueill, Raimbautz de Vaqueiras, Sordello, Bernart de Ventadorn, Peire Vidal, Bertran de Born. Palma de Mallorca: Divers Press, 1953.
  • Allen Ginsberg. Howl. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1955.
  • Denise Levertov. Overland to the Islands. Highlands: J. Williams, 1958.
  • Charles Olson. The Maximus Poems. New York: Jargon/Corinth Books, 1960.
  • Robert Duncan. The Opening of the Field. New York: Evergreen Books, 1960.
  • Guy Davenport. Thasos and Ohio: Poems and Translations 1950-1980. San Francisco: North Point Press, 1986.