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London: William Butler Yeats, Wyndham Lewis and Others
Upon Pound’s arrival in London in August 1908, he rapidly insinuated himself into the city’s literary scene, meeting, among many others, the publisher Elkin Mathews (who was to publish several of Pound’s books, beginning with Personae in 1909), Ford Madox Hueffer (later Ford Madox Ford), Olivia Shakespear (W.B. Yeats’ former lover, whose daughter, Dorothy, Pound married in 1914), D.H. Lawrence, James Joyce, Robert Frost, Wyndham Lewis, and perhaps most important of all, William Butler Yeats.
Pound once said that Yeats was the original impetus for his move to London; he wanted “to sit at Yeats’ feet, and learn what he knew.” By 1908, Yeats was a major figure in poetry, and Pound, like many other younger poets of the time, was deeply influenced by him. Pound quickly met Yeats, and by 1913 was spending the winters with him at Yeats’s Stone Cottage in Sussex, acting as his secretary. Pound played an active role in encouraging Yeats to continue moving towards an elliptical, more colloquial style, less influenced by Celtic mythology, which is seen in the poems published in Responsibilities (1914) and The Wild Swans at Coole (1917), and Pound admired the antiquarian leanings of Yeats in turn. The writings of both men were very dissimilar from one another; Yeats later said in A Packet for Ezra Pound, “Ezra Pound, whose art is the opposite of mine, whose criticism commends what I most condemn, a man with whom I should quarrel more than with anyone else if we were not united by affection.”
Pound met Wyndham Lewis not long after his arrival in London, but the two men did not see much of each other for several years, and it was not until 1914 that they joined forces to publish the journal BLAST, the manifesto of the Vorticist movement (an art movement influenced by the Italian Futurists and the Cubists, and named and described by Pound). Lewis was a painter and writer; Pound was active in arranging for the serial publication of his first novel, Tarr, in 1915. Although BLAST was only published for two issues, its stark and aggressive design was enormously influential.
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