Ezra Pound: The Midwife of Modernism

As one of the founding fathers of the imagist style of poetry, Ezra Pound laid the groundwork for the careers of contemporary writers such as William Carlos Williams, T.S. Eliot, and James Joyce. Yet, Pound’s acceptance of fascism following the end of WWI strained his relationship with his fellow poets. This being said, despite his anti-American perspective, Pound’s modernistic style still made its way into the works of T.S. Elliot, especially the poem, “The Wasteland.” Pound  helped Elliot edit the poem, giving him advice about the order of the verse, and encouraging his glorification of disillusionment and despair. Some scholars believe Pound used Elliot’s newly diagnosed nervous disorder to sway him to incorporate modernistic elements of a lost and forgotten world. Pound added the phrase “dead land” (Eliot 2) to Eliot’s original draft, a demonstration of Pound’s intended tone for the rest of the poem. Pound also helped in the creation of the “forgetful snow” (6) that “warm[s]” (5) the Earth, a paradox inspired by the poets’ questions regarding reality and the prospects of humanity. Eliot’s statement that, “April is the cruelest month” (1) echoes Pound’s description of, “pale carnage beneath a bright mist” (Pound 5) in his poem “April.” In both cases April is a symbol for society, where a time filled with promises of growth and prosperity turns out to be a façade, a “bright mist” that obscures the hideous underbelly of post WWI society. Upon the completion of “The Wasteland,” Pound wrote Elliot a letter in which he compared himself to the midwife of the poem, and encouraged Elliot to use the same publisher whom he and James Joyce both employed. Together with Joyce’s Ulysses, and Pound’s The Cantos, “The Wasteland” embodied what Pound dubbed “our modern experiment:” mankind’s adaptation to a postwar world. By mentoring contemporary writers, Pound left his mark on early twentieth-century literature; a mark that is seen in works published long after his death.


ezra pounds wasteland

Pound’s comments on Eliot’s first draft of “The Wasteland”


Source: https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/47311/the-waste-land




This entry was posted in Beyond Poetry Term Paper, Honors English III and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Ezra Pound: The Midwife of Modernism

  1. vaughnrogers says:

    Jackson, good job here. I like how you implemented multiple quotations and references to specific poems in order to further your analysis. A question I have for you is why did Pound accept fascism after WWI? Was there any trigger that caused him to side with that ideology? If you looked to polish this, you could add these details.

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