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This article is taken from PN Review 248, Volume 45 Number 6, July - August 2019.

Ezra Pound's Fragments
The Cat in the Basket
Duncan MacKay
FINDING DRAFTS AND FRAGMENTS at a knock-down price in Maiden Lane barely a year after its English publication by Faber & Faber in 1970, my twenty-year-old self faced the familiar difficulties known to many in first confronting Ezra Pound, difficulties not merely of a textual nature but those presaged by the barely obliterated abusive annotations that I found scribbled across the Contents page. Yet Pound beguiled. Against my expectations I found a human being (‘there remains grumpiness’; ‘I lost my center / fighting the world.’) if a little self-romanticising (‘Their asperities diverted me in my green time. / A blown husk that is finished…’). The lyrical was put together without extraneous language: ‘… the light sings eternal / a pale flare over the marshes / where the salt hay whispers to tide’s change / Time, space, / neither life nor death is the answer. / And of man seeking good, / doing evil.’ Throw in ‘Disney against the metaphysicals’ and I began to wonder what I had been missing. At that time, men were walking again on the Moon, as were hundreds of thousands marching again in Washington and San Francisco. Manson was in court, the Angry Brigade setting off their bombs in the London I lived in. Drafts and Fragments seemed strangely pertinent to the time (‘seeing the just and the unjust, / tasting the sweet and the sorry’, ‘to be men not destroyers’, and ‘the young for the old / that is tragedy’) even though, as I later discovered, the collection was largely written over ten years earlier.

Pound’s lyricism was both classical and contemporary. There was copious melodic ...

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