The Pound issue is fascinating to me; the decision not to prosecute him, and the factors going into that, are not discussed as much as they should be, in my opinion.
I've long harbored a notion of writing a two-person play in which Jane Fonda takes a vacation in Italy to escape public clamor upon her return from Vietnam in 1972, and runs into an eccentric old man on the beach who discusses her recent controvery with an oddly sympathetic, pro-Mussolini perspective . . . The tough part would be writing it so Jane could keep up her end of the back-and-forth. (Whatever the merits of their respective opinions and actions, there seems little support for the view that Jane could think or speak on Ezra's level.)
(If someone else wants to write the play, go ahead, no rights reserved: just send me a copy for entertainment, if you please.)
An important factor in the support for Pound, it seems to me, is that people who knew Ezra either really liked and admired him, or couldn't stand him. Those who couldn't stand him didn't become close, those who became close became devoted, albeit typically from a distance. (A little bit of Ezra apparently went a long way for most folks, even among his admirers.)
Other important factors in his support: (i) Pound believed in something -- quite what is hard to discern, and frequently ugly when discernible, but his apparent sincerity and his (presumed) gullability were appealing, or at least mitigating, to many who knew him; (ii) Pound helped many of his supporters come to prominence; (iii) the precedent of prosecuting a poet for his political speech may have frightened some on free speech grounds (though the precedent would not have applied to those who avoided treasonous broadcasts over enemy airwaves); and (iv) lastly -- and most importantly in my view -- those who knew Pound for years, and stayed in touch directly or indirectly through the '30's, mostly believed that he had gone out of his mind as a practical matter, principally over economics, whether or not he met the legal standard for mental competence to stand trial.
In a message dated 2/12/2003 8:42:43 PM Eastern Standard Time, [log in to unmask] writes:
> In a message dated 2/13/03 1:12:47 AM !!!First Boot!!!, [log in to unmask] writes:
> On the other hand, if we were dealing with an alleged fascist with democrat tendencies,
> we'd proabbaly be in St. E's with uncle Ezra, remembering exactly what inspirations
> he used for TWL.
> It's interesting how many fellow "famous" poets/writers of that era contacted politicians and tried to use their influence to get Pound released from the mental hospital. MacLeish, for example, made significant efforts although he entirely disagreed with Pound's views and, in fact, thought him insane. MacLeish greatly admired Roosevelt, also, and Pound was continually calling Roosevelt a criminal. Yet, I suppose MacLeish felt for a fellow poet, the horror of being locked in such a place; also, Eliot has personally requested MacLeigh to
> intercede if possible.