POUND, Ezra. The Pisan Cantos. New York: New Directions, 1948.
8o. Original black cloth, silver-lettered on spine; pictorial dust jacket (chipped at edges). Provenance: OLGA RUDGE (1895-1996), concert violinist and life-long companion of Pound (presentation inscription; paper label on front pastedown "From the Venice Library of Ezra Pound & Olga Rudge").
"WHAT THOU LOVEST WELL REMAINS THE REST IS DROSS" (Canto LXXXI)
FIRST EDITION. PRESENTATION COPY, INSCRIBED BY POUND TO OLGA RUDGE on the rear free endpaper: "To put an end to cheap blasphemy & attain the clean air. 29 March for Olga '65." With Rudge's pencil note on the front free endpaper noting that the inscription is on the "back page." 1,525 copies of the first edition were printed.
The Pisan Cantos were written while Pound was interred at the Training Detention Center at Pisa on charges that his radio broadcasts from Rome attacking the American war effort constituted treasonous activity. Pound was initially held in a cage of heavy-gauge mesh, denied the privilege of sleeping in a pup tent as was permitted the other inmates. After he complained of claustophobia and mental confusion, he was moved to the medical compound, where he was given access to the typewriter on which he furiously composed this sequence of eleven cantos. Pound was returned to the United States in 1945 under indictment for treason but never stood trial. His lawyer successfully entered a plea of insanity and Pound was committed to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Washington, D.C. Through the efforts of his friends, he was released from St. Elizabeth's in 1958. He returned immediately to Italy.
Publication of The Pisan Cantos three years after his arrest and internment at St. Elizabeth's was met with mixed reviews, but there was a great sense of relief that their emphasis was on lyricism and not politics and economics. The book were awarded the Bollingen prize for poetry in 1949, the resulting contoversy so heated that a one-year cessation of the government-funded prize was ordered. In The Pisan Cantos, Connolly sees that Pound "accepts his prison camp with resignation but for the first time, he experiences remorse and the 'nessun maggior dolore' of Dante... The weather in the cantos is like our own; a prevailing south wind of rainy allusiveness blows most of the time, sometimes turning to a fog of economic prosing, sometimes to an occasional glimpse of radiant Mediterranean sunshine. All are present here, especially nostalgia, often magical. 'Oh let an old man rest'" (Connolly, The Modern Movement, 88).
Pound's inscription to Rudge is a poignant reflection of the mellowing of the once incandescent poet. Having suffered a heart attack in 1962, Pound remained elusive, taking long walks through Venice to try and come to terms with his life and find a "paradise" with which to end his lifework. Gallup A60a.
SEE LOT 371 FOR ADDITIONAL POUND ITEM.