One place understood helps us understand all places better.

Eudora Welty


Sunday, November 24, 2019

A pound of justice

Ezra Pound was an American poet, editor, and critic living in Europe in the early twentieth century. He was one of the leaders of the modernist movement of poetry. He is credited with discovering or helping to develop other modernist poets such as T.S. Eliot and Robert Frost.

He also became a supporter of Mussolini and the Italian Fascists. During WW2 he, unfortunately, decided it was a good idea to start radio broadcasting for the Italian government and criticizing the United States, Roosevelt, and Jews.

He was arrested after the war and charged with treason and imprisoned in a military camp in Pisa. For three weeks he was kept outdoors in a 6X6 foot steel cage. It's said that afterward, he suffered a mental breakdown from which he never fully recovered although he lived until 1972 and continued to write poetry.

I don't know that there is any poetry by Pound that I like but his story did prompt the following poem. The word epic refers to Pounds collection of poems called The Cantos which is considered his masterpiece and which he began while still in custody.

A pound of justice

Hey old man,
you in jail,
they gave you paper
to pad your cell
not to poem on.

What were
you thinking?
Writing your
when you
should be

Hey old man
what were you waiting?
Some great
from a sleeping world.

What were
you trying,
to poem off
on the unsuspecting?

Some modern wake
for the
just traditional?

Hey old man
take your meals
and your exercise hour
No one cares,
your jailhouse epistle.

What you
you in for?

A pound
of justice
not manuscript.