Robert Frost meets Ezra Pound

I’ve just read on A Bully Pulpit http://jrbenjamin.com/an interview with Robert Frost by Richard Poirier for The Paris Review. There’s a bit where Frost is describing his first meeting with Ezra Pound:

“[Pound] said, ‘Flint tells me you have a book.’ And I said, ‘Well, I ought to have.’ He said, ‘You haven’t seen it?’ And I said, ‘No.’ He said, ‘What do you say we go and get a copy?’ He was eager about being the first one to talk. That’s one of the best things you can say about Pound: he wanted to be the first to jump. Didn’t call people up on the telephone to see how they were going to jump. He was all silent with eagerness. We walked over to my publisher; he got the book. Didn’t show it to me—put it in his pocket. We went back to his room. He said, ‘You don’t mind our liking this?’ in his British accent, slightly. And I said, ‘Oh, go ahead and like it.’ Pretty soon he laughed at something, and I said I knew where that was in the book, what Pound would laugh at. And then pretty soon he said, ‘You better run along home, I’m going to review it.’ And I never touched it. I went home without my book and he kept it. I’d barely seen it in his hands.”

My brother Tim Reynolds, once described by Kenneth Rexroth as one of “the best of the Reformed Neo-Academic poets,” says he heard that when Frost and Pound met, Pound looked at one of Frost’s poems, made a few corrections and said, “Not bad. Not much fat on that one.” Frost reportedly protested, “But you’ve messed up the rhyme! You wrecked the whole formal structure of the poem!”

That wasn’t mentioned in the interview Frost gave The Paris Review.

I’d read and liked Robert Frost’s poetry by the time my first book came out. (I was 14.) My publisher, Henry Holt + Co. was apparently also Frost’s publisher. I remember they sent out a Christmas card to their authors that year with a new poem by Frost in it.

Literary critic that I was, I thought the poem wasn’t up to Frost’s previous work. I threw the card out.

Of course I wish now that I hadn’t, whether the poem was any good or not.

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About Jessica Renshaw

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