Williams & Pound: Episodes from a Sixty-year Friendship

Few literary friendships can compare to the strange, contentious alliance between Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, which spanned sixty years, ending with Williams’s death in 1963. They met in Philadelphia, where Williams was starting his first term at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine and Pound, two years his junior, was an undergraduate studying Romance Languages at the University. For Williams, a sheltered, naïve, young man from Rutherford, New Jersey, with inchoate aspirations to make his mark on the world as doctor and poet, encountering Pound was like being struck by lightning.

The two could not have been more different. Where Pound was voluble and cocksure in his opinions, Williams was cautious and diffident. Already playing the role of flamboyant literary agent provocateur, Pound aimed to drive the poetasters from the Temple of Art and seize the throne of modernist poetry czar for himself. Williams, with tastes formed by after-dinner readings at home from Shakespeare and Palgrave’s Victorian anthology, still had an adolescent’s romantic crush on Keats.

To read the rest of this post, please visit the Library of America’s Reader’s Almanac, where it originally appeared.

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