of Modern Poetry
. . . the goat shall bear upon him all their
iniquities unto a land which is cut off; and
he shall let go the goat in the wilderness.
ANY WAY you look at it, writing about Ezra Pound and his poetry is an unpleasant business. It is unpleasant for his friends and fellow travelers, who must either by-pass or explain away the various Pound scandals; just as unpleasant for his ill-wishers and critics; and unpleasant as well for the scholars, book reviewers, and historians of the age who find him looming up menacingly from the card catalogue. Pound is not the kind of writer who once did something wrong and can now be forgiven in the mellowness of time. It is hard to forgive him because everything he did wrong he insists was right. He is righteous about his wrongness; he forces his worst upon us wherever we meet him, and there is no escaping it.
People who try to minimize Pound's sins, errors, and crimes are simply playing a game that Pound himself refuses to play. Critics who would like to shelve the ugly side of Pound's poetry for its virtues are also playing a game that Pound refuses to have a hand in. Of all the modern didactic poets there is