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Quotations From EZRA POUND

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  • A great age of literature is perhaps always a great age of translations.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Egoist (London, Oct. 1917).
  • In case I conk out, this is provisionally what I have to do: I must clarify obscurities; I must make clearer definite ideas or dissociations. I must find a verbal formula to combat the rise of brutality—the principle of order versus the split atom.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Interview in Writers at Work, Second Series, ed. George Plimpton (1963).
  • I guess the definition of a lunatic is a man surrounded by them.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Quoted in Charles Olson and Ezra Pound, Catherine Seelye (1975). Said to poet and critic Charles Olson in 1945, when Olson visited Pound in Howard Hall, the institution for the criminally insane in which Pound was detained pending a judgment on his wartime broadcasts from Rome.
  • A man of genius has a right to any mode of expression.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. letter, Feb. 4, 1918, to the painter J.B. Yeats (father of W.B. Yeats). quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 2, ch. 10 (1988).
  • You let me throw the bricks through the front window. You go in at the back and take the swag.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. quoted in Humphrey Carpenter, A Serious Character, pt. 2, ch. 13 (1988). Remark to poet T.S. Eliot, reported by Pound acolyte and critic Hugh Kenner.
  • People find ideas a bore because they do not distinguish between live ones and stuffed ones on a shelf.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Guide to Kulchur, pt. 1, sct. 1, ch. 5 (1938).

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  • Man is an over-complicated organism. If he is doomed to extinction he will die out for want of simplicity.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Guide to Kulchur, pt. 3, sct. 5, ch. 19 (1938).
  • A civilized man is one who will give a serious answer to a serious question. Civilization itself is a certain sane balance of values.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Guide to Kulchur, pt. 3, sct. 5, ch. 20 (1938).
  • In our time, the curse is monetary illiteracy, just as inability to read plain print was the curse of earlier centuries.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. Guide to Kulchur, pt. 4, sect. 8, ch. 31 (1938).

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  • The real trouble with war (modern war) is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people.
    Ezra Pound (1885-1972), U.S. poet, critic. repr. In Gaudier-Brzeska: a Memoir (1916, rev. 1960). "Gaudier: A Postscript," Esquire (New York, Aug. 1934).

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