Lady Wang, found in Mogao Caves, Tang Dynasty
Ezra Pound was a truly great poet - and he wasn't. Leaving the United States in the early 1900s, he settled in London and later in Italy and immersed himself in European and classical culture and literature. His best poems came early, but as he moved into middle age, his charm and generosity were displaced by a bitter anti-Semitism. This led him to make rather incomprehensible propaganda broadcasts for Mussolini during the war. And that, in turn, led to his arrest for treason and his subsequent commitment to a mental hospital for twelve years. Pound appears in my novel In the Forest of Tombolo in scenes set at a prison camp in Pisa in and at St. Elizabeth's Mental Hospital in Washington.
I prefer to remember him now for his early and remarkably beautiful poems, often loose translations from other languages. Here is my wife's favorite:
The River Merchant's Wife
after Li Po
At sixteen you departed
4 hours ago