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Ezra Pound Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University


Finding aid created by: LMP
Date: Apr 1971



Biographical History

Ezra Pound, one of the major poets and literary critics of the 20th century, was born in Hailey, Idaho on October 30, 1885. The son of Homer Loomis and Isabel Weston Pound, he was educated at Hamilton College and the University of Pennsylvania, receiving the Bachelor of Philosophy degree in 1905 and the Master of Arts degree in 1906.

After graduation, Pound taught for a short time at Wabash College in Indiana and then left for Europe, where he lived most of his life. His first volume of poetry, A Lume Spento, was published in Venice in 1908. His second volume, The Personae of Ezra Pound, was published in London in 1909 and was immediately acclaimed by critics.

Pound's perfection of the free verse line and his major literary effort, The Cantos, have had a profound influence upon twentieth century literature. The most famous poem of the century, T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, is dedicated to Pound, whom Eliot terms "il miglior fabbro," "the better artisan" or "poet". Possessing an extremely acute critical faculty, Pound is responsible for the literary recognition of several major artists. Among those whose publication he aided and whose early literary efforts he lauded are James Joyce, T.S. Eliot, and Robert Frost.

Pound wrote more than seventy books, contributed to some seventy others, and published more than 1,500 articles. Most of the poetry and criticism upon which his literary reputation rests is contained within Personae: Collected Shorter Poems, The Cantos, The Spirit of Romance and The Literary Essays.

In 1941 Pound began broadcasting over Italian radio, attacking the United States and its monetary policies. He was arrested by the American forces in 1945 and brought to the United States to be tried for treason. Declared psychologically unfit to stand trial, he was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. During his incarceration, the Library of Congress awarded Pound the Bollingen Poetry Prize for the Pisan Cantos. Released from St. Elizabeth's in 1958, the poet returned to Italy where he lived until his death in 1972.


Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Ezra Pound Papers consist of Correspondence and Miscellaneous materials.

Correspondence consists of letters written by Ezra Pound, the poet's wife Dorothy Shakespear Pound, and William Carlos Williams. Fifty-eight of the sixty-six letters in the collection were written by Pound to poets, editors and friends. Correspondence, from 1909 through 1965, is representative of well over half a century of Pound's life and work. Pound's letters discuss the writings of others far more than they do his own work and are indicative of his great influence on twentieth century literature. In a letter dated November 3, 1930 to poet Richard Johns, Pound discusses his attempts to have the work of several poets published and expresses his concern for the "little magazine" as a medium for contemporary literature. Pound's role in the publication of William Carlos Williams' first book, The Tempers, is the subject of the Williams' letter in the collection. Also of interest is Pound's correspondence with the poet Centrobus in 1909; Pound counsels Centrobus on the writing of poetry as he conceives it and expresses his dedication to his art.

Letters written to T.S. Holmes in the years prior to World War II record the most notorious period of Pound's life as Pound's criticism of the U.S. and British monetary systems becomes increasingly strident. Included among the correspondence are letters written during Pound's consequent incarceration in St. Elizabeth's hospital in Washington, D.C.

Miscellaneous material within the collection is comprised primarily of the proof for "Ezra Pound's Economics." Advertisements for Pound's work and other miscellaneous enclosures have been left with the correspondence with which they are associated. Those letters containing enclosures are indicated in the index.


Arrangement of the Collection

The correspondence has been filed chronologically. An alphabetical index of correspondents is provided at the end of the inventory. Letters are chronological under each writer's name; brackets have been used to indicate uncertain names and dates.


Restrictions

Access Restrictions:

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions:

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.


Subject Headings

Persons

Pound, Dorothy.
Pound, Ezra, 1885-1972 Correspondence.
Williams, William Carlos, 1883-1963.

Subjects

Critics.
Poets, American, 20th century.

Genres and Forms

Correspondence.

Occupations

Critics.
Poets.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Ezra Pound Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 1966, 1969, 1970.


Table of Contents

Correspondence

Miscellaneous materials

Index of correspondents


Inventory