Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho in October of 1885. He was the only child of Homer Loomis Pound and Isabel Weston, whose ancestors had emigrated from England. Pound was a descendent of William Wadsworth, one of the original emigrants during the early 1630s. As a young boy Pound was educated in a number of different dame schools.
Pound was only eleven years old when he published his first piece. It appeared in the Jenkintown Times-Chronicle in 1896 and consisted of a limerick composed a failed presidential candidate. In the later years of the decade Ezra Pound attended Cheltenham Military Academy. While at this institution he spent a great deal of time studying Latin.
When Pound was thirteen years old he traveled to Europe with his mother and aunt. They spent time in a number of different countries, and then returned to America where Pound went on to attend Cheltenham Township High School and later, the University of Pennsylvania’s College of Liberal Arts. He met and started a romance with the now well-known writer, Hilda Doolittle, or as she is known now, H.D.
The following years saw Pound transfer to a school in Clinton New York,. He graduated from the school in 1905. Pound then went on to study Romance languages at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his MA in 1906. In 1907 he began teaching at Wabash College in Crawfordsville, Indiana. The college dismissed Pound from its staff in 1908.
This turn of circumstances allowed the writer the opportunity to travel to Europe. Pound settled down in London where he worked as a tour guide. His first book of poetry was self published and appeared in July of 1908. It was titled, A Lume Spento, or With Tapers Quenched. He would remain in London for the next twelve years. It was here that he reconnected with Hilda Doolittle.
Life in London
In 1909 Ezra Pound married Dorothy Shakespear. She would go on to introduce her husband to W.B. Yeats— one of the writers Pound respected most. The same year saw Pound publish Personae. It managed to bring in some financial success for the poet. It was followed by The Spirit of Romance which was his first book of literary criticism and was published in the United States. On his return to London he was hired as the editor of the journal The New Age.
It was during this time period that Pound began to develop the style with which he is most closely associated, Imagism. The poet lived with Hilda Doolittle, and her future husband, Richard Aldington, in a home in Kensington. The three are now credited as the founders of the movement. They were determined to craft a form of poetry which was concerned with language and presentation. It was created as a reaction to the complicated and overly worded verse of Romanticism. Pound also began to contribute to Poetry magazine and Blast at this time.
During the early years of World War I Pound worked as a music reviewer, published his collection, Cathay, and the first of his three cantos. The writer was deeply moved by the war and eventually sunk into a deep depression as the war took its toll on England and the rest of the world. In 1919 he published Instigation, a collection of essays which had previously appeared in The Little Review.
In 1920 he published Hugh Selwyn Mauberley, which is one of his most well-known poems. It spoke on the life of a poet whose days had taken on the a feeling of uselessness. The following years saw Pound’s mental health suffer. The married couple was not faring well and Pound was engaging in a number of affairs. The two would separate soon after the birth of Pounds daughter with Olga Rudge.
Incarceration and Death
In the 1940s Pound spent time as a radio broadcaster. He criticized the United States, a move which ended in his indictment in absentia for treason. He was arrested in 1945 and was soon admitted to St. Elizabeth’s Hospital due to his fragile mental state.
At one point during his captivity he was held in a six-by-six foot outdoor cage which was known as a “death cell,” as the authorities feared he would be freed from the prison by fascists. Pound was not released until April of 1958 after various campaigns on his behalf by other writers, such as Ernest Hemingway.
The poet writing career was over by this point as he was still suffering from depression and began to exhibit traits of dementia. He was admitted to a clinic in Merano, Italy. By the time Pound turned 87 he was very weak. Pound was admitted to a hospital in Venice and died in his sleep of an intestinal blockage.