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This article is taken from PN Review 138, Volume 27 Number 4, March - April 2001.

Edward Thomas: Englishness and Modernity Clive Wilmer

On 1 May 1909, Edward Thomas sent a book he was reviewing to his friend Gordon Bottomley. 'Here,' he says in an accompanying letter, 'is Ezra Pound & I think he has very great things in him & love poems & the "Famam librosque" - in fact nearly all - are extraordinary achievements.' The following month his review of the book appeared:

Carelessness of sweet sound and of all the old tricks makes Mr Pound's book rather prickly to handle at first ... For brusque intensity of effect we can hardly compare [his poems] with any other work. Of course, this is partly due to his faults and to his pride in revolt, to his lack of all mere amiability, to his austerity, to his abruptness as of a swift beetle that suddenly strikes your cheek and falls stunned with its own force, to his use of a number of archaisms in the midst of a chaste and simple vocabulary.

The faults, he goes on to say, 'have the same origin as his virtues'; Pound is 'possessed by his own strong conceptions', by his loves and by contempt for the opposite of his loves.

It is the old miracle that cannot be defined, nothing more than a subtle entanglement of words, so that they rise out of their graves and sing. And part of our pleasure in reading the book has been the belief, in which we are confident, that ...


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