Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Williams on Pound

I don’t know what to do with myself without our class meeting tonight. Thought I’d fill up the time by posting some of William Carlos Williams’s reflections on his contemporaries. They’re helpful for locating him in his world, but they’re also just fun and kind of gossipy—perfect for spring break!

From WCW’s autobiography, called (um) The Autobiography (1951), remembering Pound as an undergrad at Penn:

“Ezra never explained or joked about his writing as I might have done, but was always cryptic, unwavering and serious in his attitude toward it. He joked, crudely, about anything but that. I was fascinated by the man. He was the liveliest, most intelligent and unexplainable thing I’d ever seen, and the most fun—except for his often painful self-consciousness and his coughing laugh. As an occasional companion over the years he was delightful, but one did not want to see him often or for any length of time. Usually I got fed to the gills with him after a few days. He, too, with me, I have no doubt.”

“I could never take him as a steady diet. Never. He was often brilliant but an ass. But I never (so long as I kept him away) got tired of him, or, for a fact, ceased to love him. He had to be loved, even if he kicked you in the teeth for it (but that he never did); he looked as if he might, but he was, at heart, much too gentle, much too good a friend for that. And he had, at bottom, an inexhaustible patience, an infinite depth of human imagination and sympathy. Vicious, catty at times, neglectful, if he trusted you not to mind, but warm and devoted—funny too, as I have said. We hunted, to some extent at least, together, and not each other.”

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