Lot 713: Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams

RR Auction

RR Auction

2015-07-07 11:01:34

Lot 713: Two ALSs in pencil written to Philip Rice, co-editor of The Kenyon Review. The first is a bizarre letter by Ezra Pound sent while confined in St. Elizabeths Hospital, signed "Ez P," one page, personal letterhead, no date but circa 1949. In full: "Yr sentimusings, sir, as forwarded by the venble B Willyums do you credit. But, after more than 4 years, cage-birdee no sing. 30 years time lag in murkn kulcher ed/ will advantage be impersonally remedied—esp by a few facts." At the top, Pound notes his location, "S. Elizabeths Hospt, DC." The second is by William Carlos Williams, signed "W. C. Williams," one page both sides, September 22, 1949. In part: "My typewriter's being cleaned & greased for the winter campaign…When I was in Washington in June I was told Ezra was translating Greek once a week (on Wednesday afternoons) with some coworker whose name I have forgotten—some faculty member of one of the colleges near Washington—perhaps Georgetown. It was said (perhaps by this man himself) that they were about to complete the Electra. That's all I know. Why not write Ezra direct at St. Elizabeth Hospi. or Charles Olson if you can find his address, for he was there at the time & seemed greatly interested." Uniform toning and trivial edge tears to the Williams letter, otherwise overall fine condition. Accompanied by Wiliams's original mailing envelope addressed in his own hand.As World War II concluded in Italy in 1945, Pound was arrested by American forces on charges of treason for his hundreds of radio broadcasts in support of the Axis powers. He returned to the US, where he was held in the prison ward of St. Elizabeths Hospital, spending two years under psychiatric observation—his lawyer saved him from life imprisonment by reason of insanity, and in 1947 the hospital moved Pound to a less restrictive area where he was allowed visitors. The man referenced in Williams's letter was Rudd Fleming, a young professor at the University of Maryland, who frequently met with Pound to discuss Greek drama. They eventually commenced on a translation of Sophocles' Electra, which went unproduced and unpublished until 1987. At the same time, Williams was working on his modern epic, Paterson, while successfully lobbying to award Pound the Bollingen Prize, a newly established national poetry award by the Library of Congress. An exceptional pairing of letters concerning Pound's work during his time of so-called insanity, connecting two of the greatest modernist poets. RR Auction's Fine Autographs and Artifacts Auction 456 Wednesday, 15th July 2015 Estimate: $1500-2000
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