PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
News and Notes
The PN Review Prize 2017 - Now Open!
ENGLISH PEN: time to join!
English PEN relies on the support of its members and subscribers. read more
Most Read... Kei MillerIn the Shadow of Derek Walcott
1930–2017

(PN Review 235)
David Herdin Conversation with John Ashbery
(PN Review 99)
Daniel Kaneon Ted Berrigan
(PN Review 169)
Henry Kingon Geoffrey Hill's Oraclau/Oracles
(PN Review 199)
Kate BinghamPuddle
(PN Review 236)
Alejandro Fernandez-OsorioPomace (trans. James Womack)
(PN Review 236)
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
Gratis Ad 1
Gratis Ad 2
Next Issue Meet Michael Edwards at the Brasserie Lipp David Herman reads Milosz's life Sumita Chakraborty's five poems Judith Wilson's encounter with Giovanni Pascoli Simon Armitage revives Branwell Bronte
Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk

This item is taken from PN Review 111, Volume 23 Number 1, September - October 1996.

Letters
Pounding (1)

Sir
Your reviewer of Sons of Ezra: British Poets and Ezra Pound (PNR 108) says that 'decades of critical silence have resulted in much confusion and trepidation' about Pound. There is confusion, but not because of critical silence. PNR has given Sons, a collection of testimonies by poets, to a reviewer who wants critical guidance, who thinks Pound's essay 'I gather the Limbs of Osiris' is a poem.

As for 'decades of critical silence', what about Kenner, The Pound Era, 1971? What about Donald Davie? Sons of Ezra was declined by Carcanet because Carcanet had recently published Davie's four books on Pound. We could find no British publisher for the book. The critic Davie can now rest in silence. Meanwhile, to those looking for a critical introduction, may I recommend Alexander's The Poetic Achievement of Ezra Pound, 1978? And to any one looking for a poem, may I recommend Pound's 'The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter'?

MICHAEL ALEXANDER
St Andrews


Pounding (2)

Sir
In his article, 'In the Case of Julius v. Mr. Eliot (PNR 110) Frederic Raphael says 'Ezra Pound's anti-Semitism is so manifest (and programmatically murderous) that only the most refined minds are scrupulous enough to deny its centrality to his work'. I'm sure I don't possess a 'refined mind' (whatever that phrase means?!) but Raphael's statement is unscrupulous because it fails to take into account passages in Pound's writings (there are several) where he attacked anti-Semitism. I give one example: 'Race prejudice is red herring. The tool of the man defeated intellectually and of the cheap politician… It is nonsense for the anglo-saxon to revile the jew for beating him at his own game' (Guide to Kulchur).

Those inevitably dwindling number of people who had the privilege of knowing Pound personally remember him as entirely without that meanness of spirit which characterises the true anti-Semite. The Jewish poet, Louis Zukofsky put this well when he recalled: 'I never felt the least trace of anti-Semitism in his presence. Nothing he ever said made me feel the embarrassment I always have for the "Goy" in whom an antagonism to "Jew" remains. If we had occasion to use the words "Jew" and "Goy" they were no more ethnological in their sense than "Chinese" and "Italian".'

It is rubbish to suggest that anti-Semitism is central to the poetry of either Pound, or Eliot. The number of anti-Jewish lines in the Cantos is under ten in a poem of over 800 pages. Pound says worse things about the English and the Portuguese. Julius has had the ingenuity to construct a book on the basis of a similarly small number of lines in Eliot's opus. Neither Julius, nor Raphael in his comment, show any sense of proportion.

To use Pound's words again, 'No one will deny that the Jews have racial characteristics, better and worse ones.' One of the evil legacies of Hitler is that any literature that is critical of Jews is regarded as more reprehensible than writing expressing criticism of other groups or races. This is unhealthy.

I close this letter on a personal note. When Pound was doing his best to educate me by letter from St Elizabeth's in 1957-8 (I was an English schoolboy and aspiring poet) he several times warned against anti-Semitism. I quote three sentences from those letters: 'I am "of course" not anti-Semitic. I am merely against irresponsible oligarchy' (7 February 58). 'The enemy is IGGURUNCE not jews or masons' (10 January 58) and 'One should not make the battle line on the edge of race' (11 April 58).

WILLIAM COOKSON
Editor, Agenda
London

This item is taken from PN Review 111, Volume 23 Number 1, September - October 1996.



Readers are asked to send a note of any misprints or mistakes that they spot in this item to editor@pnreview.co.uk
Searching, please wait... animated waiting image