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Poet Ezra Pond authored more than 70 books and promoted many other now-famous writers, including James Joyce and T.S. Eliot.
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The first section of the poem was published in 1925, with later editions appearing later ("Eleven New Cantos," 1934; "The Fifth Decade of Cantos," 1937; "Cantos LII-LXXI," 1940).
As Pound's interest in economics and economic history increased, he showed his support for the theories of Major C.H. Douglas, the founder of Social Credit, an economic theory that believed that the poor distribution of wealth was due to insufficient purchasing power on the part of governments. Pound began to see a world of injustice shaped by international bankers, whose manipulation of money led to wars and conflict.
Pound's impassioned feelings on the matter soon led him to support the Italian dictator, Benito Mussolini. In 1939, Pound visited the United States in the hope that he could help prevent war between his native country and his adopted one. But success eluded him, and upon his return to Italy, Pound set out recording hundreds of broadcasts for Rome Radio in which he threw his support behind Mussolini, condemned the United States, and claimed that a group of Jewish bankers had directed America into war.
In 1945, partisans arrested Pound and handed him over to U.S. Forces, who held him for six months at a detention center outside Pisa. He was then flown back to the United States to stand trial for treason, but was found to be insane and was directed to St. Elizabeths Hospital in Washington DC, where he remained until 1958.
Pound's exact state of mind during this time has come into question over the years. In the early 1980s, a full decade after Pound's death, a professor of American Institutions at the University of Wisconsin presented evidence that Pound was indeed sane enough to stand trial for treason. However, it was certainly true that Pound was healthy enough to work. During his imprisonment in Italy he finished the "Pisan Cantos," which The New York Times praised as "among the masterpieces of the century."
Pound continued to write during his confinement at St. Elizabeths as well. There he completed additional sections of his long poem, "Section: Rock-Drill," published in 1955, and "Thrones," which appeared in 1959.
In 1958, Robert Frost spearheaded a successful campaign to free Pound from the comfortable confines of St. Elizabeths. Pound returned to Italy immediately, and in 1969, published "Drafts and Fragments of Cantos CX-CXVII."
Publicly, Pound spoke little about his work, but on the rare occasion he did, he described "The Cantos" as a failed work of poetry. Whether Pound truly felt that way about his defining work is often debated.
Pound passed away in Venice in 1972 and was buried on the cemetery island Isole di San Michele. Over the course of his long, productive lifetime, Pound published 70 books of his own writing, had a hand in some 70 others, and authored more than 1,500 articles.
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