Ezra Pound's "The Garden" (Annotated)
The Life of Ezra Pound
Ezra Pound was a renowned journalist and a poet. He was born on October 30th, 1885 in Hailey, Idaho. His parents were Homer L. Pound and Isabel Weston. Near as one can tell, Pound had loving parents and a happy childhood as a result. When he turned 15, he decided he wanted to become a poet, and his parents supported that dream. When he went off to college, he started at the University of Pennsylvania. Later on, he pursued other avenues, such as Hamilton College and even Cheltenham Military Academy.
After college, Pound decided he wanted to take more risks in his life. With just $80 in his pocket, Pound set a course for Venice, Italy. There, he found fame with his first book of poems called “A Lume Spento.” He later published more works like, “Personae,” “Exultations,” and “The Spirit of Romance.” In Venice, Pound also befriended a young poet named T.S. Eliot. Pound worked diligently to help guide Eliot and revise his poems. As a result, literature was forever changed.
Pound later decided to move to France; however, he disapproved of Parisian culture, and the unequal distribution of wealth in France helped develop his more Fascist beliefs shown later in life. Because of this disdain, he quickly moved back to Italy. Soon after he returned, he had 2 children. He also continued to work on a long series of poems called “The Cantos”, which he had originally started in 1915. It was only after he was arrested for releasing pro-fascist radio broadcasts in Italy during WWII that he finished “The Cantos.” Later being confined in a mental institution gave him time to develope his poetry until his release in 1958.
Finally, on November 1, 1972, Pound passed away in his home in Venice. His body now rests on the island Isola di San Michele. Over the course of Pound’s lifetime, it is estimated that he published over 70 books and had a hand in 70 others. He also published about 1500 articles. Ezra Pound was a highly productive poet whose work will influence generations to come.
How The Poets Life Affected His Work
Pound was disillusioned with traditional forms of poetry and structure (such as Imagism; a movement in poetry from classical Chinese/Japanese poetry that stressed clarity, precision, and rhyme and meter) and, as a result, he did not follow any specific structure in many of his works. Furthermore, events such as WWI discouraged positive thinking, changed the dynamic of the subjects in his works, and left him questioning the American Dream.
Moments in History
Victorian Culture lasted from 1837 all the way to the early 1900’s. It is marked mainly by the reign of Queen Victoria in England. However, though her life was quite extraordinary, it is remembered mainly as a time of tradition and change. The traditions of marriage between those of the same class/stature (breeding essentially) was still very prevalent, along with; huge gaps in wealth, social obligations/expectations. However, there were also great advances in technology and the rights of citizens in society.
World War One, otherwise known as ‘The Great War’ (or ‘The War to End All Wars’), was catastrophic for all countries involved; lasting from 1914 to 1918. Trench warfare was dangerous and traumatic, with mustard gas blinding men and the constant barrage of artillery and bombs causing shell shock. Diseases spread like wildfire; rats, rotting corpses, raw sewage, improperly treated wounds, and exposure to the elements all likely causes. (Not to mention the influenza outbreak) By the end of the war, empires were left bankrupt and their lands were ravaged by the chaos that took place (especially France).
Commonly called the roaring twenties (taking place in the 1920’s), this time was called as such due to the great excitement and optimism of the times. Before the Great Depression, people had high hopes and high salaries. They seemed to expect everything to go right with their carefree lifestyles. In this time of prosperity, (a time abundant with parks/theme parks, numerous sports, and literature to spend your free hours with) separation of social classes was still quite prevalent. The old money, still someone being more up-class than new money.
After the Stock Market Crash of Oct. 1929, businesses took a dive and unemployment skyrocketed. As anxieties grew, people would cause their own banks foreclose, attempting to withdraw all their money at once. As men search aimlessly for jobs and women began work outside the home, families are put to the test and often break apart. People live in the streets, hoping and waiting for something to get the economy jumpstarted. The Great Depression lasts from 1929 until 1931.
During the Depression (about the 1930’s), to add salt to the wound, The Dust Bowl occurred. Caused by to the overuse of fields, (using up the minerals in the soil and not giving it time to replenish them) land was no longer suitable or liveable. As the dust was blown from the ground and drifted state to state, families were uprooted and massive migrations transported them to California (mainly) and other various states. These farming families were stricken with poverty and disease, having lost crops, livestock, and even children to the harshness of The Dust Bowl.
How History Effects Ezra
- WWI: All of the death and destruction of World War One would get to anybody, so it's only natural it might affect Ezra. It was disheartening, the way by which so many young lives had perished. Many people became disillusioned after this catastrophic event.
- The Great Depression: After the stock market crash, and imminent loss of jobs, Ezra may have felt as if his or everyone else’s hard work was not coming to fruition, and never would. He might have lost job opportunities and money, just as most others had.
- The Roaring 20’s: An ecstatic time, where hard work landed you with the big money, and the only major concern was the separation between old money, new money, and your average Joe. It was a time that filled people with hope and dreams.
- Victorian Culture: In the high society of the Victorian Age, separation between classes was inevitable, social constructs were inescapable, and the influence of this era was unimaginable to those of the time. The Victorian Era was highly influential to all aspects of Literature, Ezra not excluded.
- The Dust Bowl: Much like WWI, the loss of life and sure hopelessness of the situation surely made other feel sympathetic and lackluster.
Comparative analysis and common themes in "The Love Song of J.Alfred Prufrock" and "the garden"
Ezra Pound (standing) & His Friend T.S. Elliot (sitting)
As discussed earlier, T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound were close friend for a long time. They were so close that Pound helped Eliot edit and revise many of his works. Naturally, this makes for many similarities to be present within them. For instance, “The Garden” by Ezra Pound and “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” by T.S. Eliot presented many of the same themes. Both the narrator of “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” and the subject of “The Garden” fail to make connections with people they wish to. This not only reflects the theme that true connections between people are impossible, but also shows that when fear is present change cannot be. Both poems also display the idea that happiness depends upon ourselves, because neither the narrator of “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” nor the subject of “The Garden” worked to make themselves happy. They both allowed social expectations to dictate their actions and, in the end, failed to become truly happy.