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Ezra Pound Trial: 1946 - "europe Calling! Pound Speaking!", "poor Old Ezra Is Quite, Quite Balmy"

robert world literary eliot

Defendant: Ezra Pound
Crime Charged: Treason
Chief Defense Lawyers: Thurman Arnold, Julien Cornell, and Robert W. Furniss, Jr.
Chief Prosecutors: Isaiah Matlack, and Oliver Gasch
Judge: Bolitha J. Laws
Place: Washington, D.C.
Date of Trial: February 13, 1946
Verdict: Unsound mind; indictment dismissed in 1958

SIGNIFICANCE: This case involved a unique combination of elements: the charge of treason, a defendant who was widely known and respected in the literary world, the question of insanity (never fully resolved), and the commitment of such renowned figures as T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, and Archibald MacLeish.

Ezra Pound was born in Hailey, Idaho, a town of one street, one hotel, and 47 saloons, in 1885. After unhappy college years, he moved to Europe before World War I. There, while publishing poetry and working as secretary to Irish poet William Butler Yeats, he helped establish such literary giants as T.S. Eliot, Robert Frost, and James Joyce.

In Paris in the 1920s, the expatriate colony found Pound superbly confident of his own talent and outspokenly critical of all people and ideas that earned his disdain. In the 1930s, he settled permanently in Rapallo, Italy, where he continued to work on the long poems he called Cantos.

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