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Quotes of the day: Ezra Pound

Published Thursday, October 29, 2015 @ 2:21 PM EDT
Oct 29 2015

Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (October 30, 1885 – November 1, 1972) was an expatriate American poet and critic who was a major figure in the early modernist movement. His contribution to poetry began with his development of Imagism, a movement derived from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, stressing clarity, precision and economy of language. His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920) and the unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos (1917–69). His pro-Fascist broadcasts in Italy during World War II led to his arrest and confinement until 1958. (Click here for full Wikipedia article)


A civilized man is one who will give a serious answer to a serious question. Civilization itself is a certain sane balance of values.

A general loathing of a gang or sect usually has some sound basis in instinct.

A man of genius has a right to any mode of expression.

A slave is one who waits for someone else to free him.

All great art is born of the metropolis.

Allow me to say that I would long since have committed suicide had desisting made me a professor of Latin.

Any general statement is like a check drawn on a bank. Its value depends on what is there to meet it.

Artists are the antennae of the race but the bullet-headed many will never learn to trust their great artists.

At seventy, I realized that instead of being a lunatic, I was a moron.

Either move or be moved.

Genius... is the capacity to see ten things where the ordinary man sees one.

Good writers are those who keep the language efficient. That is to say, keep it accurate, keep it clear.

Great literature is simply language charged with meaning to the utmost possible degree.

Humanity is the rich effluvium, it is the waste and the manure and the soil, and from it grows the tree of the arts.

I guess the definition of a lunatic is a man surrounded by them.

I have always thought the suicide should bump off at least one swine before taking off for parts unknown.

I have never known anyone worth a damn who wasn't irascible.

If a man isn't willing to take some risk for his opinions, either his opinions are no good or he's no good.

If a nation's literature declines, the nation atrophies and decays.

If a patron buys from an artist who needs money, the patron then makes himself equal to the artist; he is building art into the world; he creates.

It is better to present one image in a lifetime than to produce voluminous work.

Literature is news that STAYS news.

Make it new!

Men do not understand books until they have a certain amount of life, or at any rate no man understands a deep book, until he has seen and lived at least part of its contents.

Music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance... poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music.

Nothing written for pay is worth printing. Only what has been written against the market.

People find ideas a bore because they do not distinguish between live ones and stuffed ones on a shelf.

Poetry must be as well written as prose.

Properly, we should read for power. Man reading should be man intensely alive. The book should be a ball of light in one's hand.

Real education must ultimately be limited to one who insists on knowing, the rest is mere sheepherding.

Religion, oh, just another of those numerous failures resulting from an attempt to popularize art.

Technique is the test of sincerity. If a thing isn't worth getting the technique to say, it is of inferior value.

The act of bell ringing is symbolic of all proselytizing religions. It implies the pointless interference with the quiet of other people.

The author's conviction on this day of the New Year is that music begins to atrophy when it departs too far from the dance; that poetry begins to atrophy when it gets too far from music.

The less we know, the longer our explanations.

The man of understanding can no more sit quiet and resigned while his country lets literature decay than a good doctor could sit quiet and contented while some ignorant child was infecting itself with tuberculosis under the impression that it was merely eating jam tarts.

The real trouble with war (modern war) is that it gives no one a chance to kill the right people.

Wars are made to make debt.

When two men in business always agree, one of them is unnecessary.


(October 30 is also the birthday of John Adams.)

Categories: Ezra Pound, Quotes of the day


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