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‘But the worst mistake I made was that stupid suburban prejudice of anti-semitism.’ Ezra Pound


Sitting in a traghetto, Olga Rudge

from Ohio and Ezra Pound from

Idaho – together fifty years,

from concert violinist to poet’s helpmate,

poet maker to fascist propagandist,

he, typically, with stick, wide brimmed hat,

floppy collar, she, wearing woollen gloves,

left hand clutching a large, canvas bag, right hand

a carefully folded scarf, dressed, like any

elderly woman, for a chilly day –

look away separately into the distance.

Five years before Pound’s death, Allen Ginsberg,

from New Jersey, on a sort of Grand Tour,

kissed him on the cheek and forgave him,

on behalf of the Jews, for his ‘mistake’.

‘Do you accept my blessing?’ asked Allen.

‘I do’, said Ezra. What closure! What chutzpah!

Held in a cage in Pisa, lit day and night,

jeered at as a traitor and a coward

by GIs who had battled from the south,

he wrote: ‘What thou lovest well remains,

the rest is dross’.




© Copyright David Selzer
5 Responses
  • Lesley Johnson
    July 13, 2009

    I don’t know much about Pound or his work. I did know a smidgeon of his biography but patently not enough. Here there is such grace both in Ginsberg’s gift and indeed in Pound’s reappraisal of himself … I shall be returning to the poem to tease out more from it. And I know it’s not done to request that a poem be written upon a certain subject … but it occurs to me that, if a poet did find himself able to accept another’s suggestion for his ‘focus’, then it’d be interesting for we readers to observe the A to Z craft actually involved in the making of a good poem. Personally I’d welcome David’s ‘take’ on Philipp von Boeselager as I feel this man has surely earned one.

  • David
    July 21, 2009


    I had thought of Ginsberg’s action and Pound’s statement as, at best, naive – but perhaps naivety has its own grace.

    Thank you for introducing me to Phillip von Boeslager, Lesley. An intriguing character and, given the recent movie about the July Plot, oddly obscure. How did you come across him, may I ask?

    Dramatists accept commissions – so should poets. Consider it done.

  • Lesley Johnson
    July 28, 2009

    Finding Philipp von Boeslager was thanks to no great perspicacity on my part. As a baby I was damn near killed by Herr Hitler’s lot via a chunk of shrapnel. – Together with a shower of glass it landed in my cot a good half hour after the sounding of the All Clear, having been dropped by a ‘rogue’ bomber. Hence I’ve always taken a personal interest in Hitler’s regime and frequently nose through the public library’s 943 section. A couple of months ago there sat von B’s new and slender autobiography ‘Valkyrie’. Because of the just released film, and assuming it was more applause for von Stauffenberg, I very nearly passed on it. But something made me flick through – and then I read it at one (quick snack punctuated) sitting. I am absolutely stunned as to why I have never ever heard of this guy, who died only last year! None of my friends had come across him either, and yet we had that quiet hero with us until 2008! – An uncommon man whose story will certainly stay with me. And someday be told to the grandkids.

  • David Trevett
    June 27, 2014

    In 1963 in visited Venice and Rimini. August it was. In the same year as Old Ez. Google ‘Malatesta Cantos’.

  • David Trevett
    June 27, 2014

    Old Ez and me never met. I had to meet him in his poetry and politics.

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