Two Gems from Pound's Letters...
Reading Ezra Pound's correspondence (which is now collected in a whole of slew of volumes, many dedicated to his correspondence with a particular figure) is always a fascinating, if frustrating, experience. This morning I grabbed The Letters of Ezra Pound: 1907 - 1941, ed. D. D. Paige (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1950) to check a citation and bumped into two quotations too fascinating not to share (and too long for twitter).
Writing to W. H. D. Rouse in 1935, Pound offers this wonderful summing up of the character of Odysseus:
As to the character of Odysseus. Anything but the bright little Rollo of Chambers' Journal brought up on Sam Smiles. Born on po' misero, don't want to go to war, little runt who finally has to do all the hard work, gets all Don Juan's chances with the ladies and can't really enjoy 'em. Circe, Calypso, Nausicaa. Always some fly in the ointment, last to volunteer on stiff jobs. (273).
The second comes from a letter to James Laughlin of New Directions, describing a production of Eliot's Murder in the Cathedral which Pound heard on the radio in 1936. It is a nice example of Pound's dialect prose, but also captures the melancholy which is frequently present in Pound's work from this period for a earlier moment—for pre-war London, and the circle of Eliot, Joyce, and Lewis.
Waal, I heerd the Murder in the Cafedrawl on the radio lass' night. Oh them cawkney woices, My Krissz, them cawkney woices. Mzzr Shakzpeer still retains his posishun. I stuck it fer a while, wot wiff the weepin and wailin. And Mr. Joyce the greatest forcemeat since Gertie. And wot iz bekum of Wyndham! My Krrize them cawkney voyces!
As is so often the case, these passages are ripe for links and annotations; but back to work for now...