pdf Download PDF

The Institutionalization of the Postwar Poet

All America is an insane asylum!

Ezra Pound, quoted in the New York Times, July 10, 1958

Through the window of his first room in Center Building in St. Elizabeths Hospital, Ezra Pound could see the dome of the United States Capitol.1 When, over a century earlier and on the other side of the Atlantic, Shelley wrote that poets were the unacknowledged legislators of the world, he did not have in mind anything like the literal example of Pound, whose unmetaphorical attempts to be a political actor on the world stage had left him acknowledged by his own government as a traitor.2 Pound’s confinement within St. Elizabeths put him in more than merely literal, geographic proximity to the sources of official power that he had allegedly betrayed. From December 21, 1945, until his release on May 6, 1958, Ezra Pound, in a manner of speaking, held office in Washington, DC. Pound served as an unofficial poet laureate in the postwar period, both embodying and crucially helping to construct a powerful model of what a poet was—dangerous, dissenting, visionary, marginal, and, above all, mad.

Pound, though, was not the only poet living in Washington, DC in the postwar years who commanded a view of the Capitol. If Pound was the unofficial poet laureate of the United States, then the consultant in poetry in the English language at the Library of Congress was the nation’s official unofficial poet laureate.3 The consultant’s view confirmed this more official status; whereas Pound could make out the distant Washington skyline through the hemlocks outside his window, the Capitol dome filled the [End Page 113]

Fig 1. Elizabeth Bishop, at her desk in the office of consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, ca. 1950.<br/><br/>Courtesy of the Library of Congress.
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Fig 1.

Elizabeth Bishop, at her desk in the office of consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress, ca. 1950.

Courtesy of the Library of Congress.

Fig 2. Detail, “Washington In and Out Guide” (Washington, DC: R. C. Traster and Sons, 1938). St. Elizabeths Hospital is visible in the lower right portion of this detail. Across the Anacostia River and to the northwest, in the upper left quadrant of the detail, are the United States Capitol and the Library of Congress.
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Fig 2.

Detail, “Washington In and Out Guide” (Washington, DC: R. C. Traster and Sons, 1938). St. Elizabeths Hospital is visible in the lower right portion of this detail. Across the Anacostia River and to the northwest, in the upper left quadrant of the detail, are the United States Capitol and the Library of Congress.

[End Page 114]

window above the consultant’s desk, framing it as though in a picture in a museum (figs. 1 and 2).4 According to Karl Shapiro, who held the position from 1946 to 1947, “Classrooms of children came to peer in with their teachers because of the view of the Capitol across the way.”5 The consultantship, or “chair in poetry,” as it was originally called, had been created in 1936; in the years that followed, beginning especially with Allen Tate’s term in 1943–44, it took shape as a quasi-honorific and quasi-bureaucratic job with pay but without a description. Shapiro (writing about himself in the third person) describes just this ambiguity: “He was planted inside a museum room which should have had a red silk braided rope to keep the public out, but this was his office. And to go with the grandeur he was informed that he was to hire a secretary as soon as possible” (Reports, 15). What Randall Jarrell had ironically referred to as “the era of the poet in the Grey Flannel Suit,” the postwar period with its professionalization even of poetry, was nowhere more evident than in the office of the consultant—indeed it was from that office that Jarrell, in 1956, wrote the phrase in a letter to Elizabeth Bishop, herself consultant in 1949–50.6 The young institutional poet with the corner office and new secretary offered a stark contrast to the aging modernist giant, institutionalized in the madhouse some three miles across town. Taken together, Pound and the consultant suggest two competing versions of the poet in the years following the war.

The story, though, is not quite so simple. For just as, in Shapiro’s words, the consultant was “planted inside a museum room,” Pound in St. Elizabeths was himself a kind of museum piece, whose main source of contact with the outside world took the form of the steady stream of visitors, strangers and friends alike, whom he received throughout the period of his confinement.7 Among those visitors were the various consultants at the Library of Congress, beginning with Robert Lowell, who served from 1947–48 and who inaugurated a tradition of consultants paying regular visits to Pound.8 Lowell brought along other poets who passed through Washington, DC, and the library, introducing Pound to Bishop, Jarrell, and John Berryman among others. When Bishop became consultant in 1949, she continued the tradition; one of the poets whom she took to meet Pound was Weldon Kees, who later wrote: “I found the experience somewhat inhuman, rather like visiting a museum, but certainly not an experience to have missed. He ‘receives’ at the end of a corridor in the hospital, which is a pretty gloomy affair, with catatonics and dementia praecox cases slithering about; but he certainly keeps up a spirit. Very lively and brisk, and his eyes go through you like knives.”9

The attentions paid by the consultants to Pound indicate more than mere curiosity; Pound and the consultant are best thought of not as mutually exclusive identities between which postwar poets would have to choose but rather as embodiments of the mirrored roles each would simultaneously have to play. Indeed, we can already perceive this doubling of poetic identity in each of these twinned laureate figures. Just as the institutionalized Pound exercised a reflected kind of institutional power, presiding over a coterie of regular visitors and influencing, directly and indirectly, public discourse about the place of the poet in the national culture, so too did the consultant, a poet in and of the institution, find her own identity and behavior casually policed by the discipline of the same state power that had given her an office (and Pound a cell). In [End Page 115] the relationship between the two figures, we see an interpersonal performance of the internal contradictions that each (in inverse terms) contains.

In investigating the close relationship between these two figures, the institutionalized poet and the poet with institutional power, I first describe the cultural role played by Pound during his St. Elizabeths years and demonstrate how his alleged insanity was articulated by and received within postwar culture. I do so by considering the public controversy surrounding his indictment on treason charges, a controversy that helped to frame the terms within which his madness—and poetic madness in general—came to serve in the period as a broader cultural myth about the life of the poet. Whatever one’s side, the public debate about what to do with Pound hinged on an analysis of him as a self divided between the figure of a modernist aesthete and that of a politically engaged citizen. Those who were inclined to defend him preferred to countenance the former figure; those inclined to condemn him insisted that the latter be judged. Both sides, however, stipulated the division. The legal finding of his insanity, I argue, reinscribed the terms of this public debate into the juridical record and effectively enshrined the divided Pound in a federal institution as a model of poetic madness. In the second and third parts of this article, I describe the tenures of two consultants, Karl Shapiro and Elizabeth Bishop, drawing on the records of their respective years in the Library of Congress to show how the institutional role of the consultant exercised a disciplinary function over the poets who filled it. While some of that pressure could be felt in the very trappings of the office in which they sat, I argue that the poets who filled this postwar laureateship were most acutely made aware of the limits of its power in their interactions with their institutionalized double in St. Elizabeths. Both Shapiro and Bishop had particularly vexed interactions with Pound, and both produced, in the years following their stints as consultant, poems that memorialized those uneasy relationships. Those poems suggest that what the consultant ultimately saw in the figure of Pound was a predictive mirrored double, a terrifying intimation that the price of institutional power would be institutionalization.10

Should Ezra Pound Be Shot?

Plebian: Tear him to pieces, he’s a conspirator.Cinna: I am Cinna the poet, I am Cinna the poet.Plebian: Tear him for his bad verses, tear him for his bad verses.

William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar

Insofar as Pound had a trial, it was both public and unofficial, and it took place not in any Washington courthouse but rather in the newspapers and magazines and, still less officially, the classrooms and living rooms of the postwar United States. His actual trial never happened because, the court found, he was legally “insane,” unfit either to understand properly the charges against him or to participate adequately in his own defense. Those two trials—the unofficial one that played out in the media and the [End Page 116] official one that remained, essentially, permanently deferred—were not unrelated. Rather, the public debate about what to do with Pound prefigured the legal finding of his insanity; that finding suspended the public debate before the question of whether he was a traitor could be resolved, which had the effect of preserving Pound in St. Elizabeths, as though he were an exhibit, a living specimen of the mad poet.

“Should Ezra Pound Be Shot?” So asked the stark headline on the cover of the communist magazine New Masses on December 25, 1945. The five writers who responded—Lion Feuchtwanger, Albert Maltz, Eda Lou Walton, Arthur Miller, and Norman Rosten—unanimously recommended death for Pound. At issue here, as in all of the so-called Pound controversies of the postwar period, was the place of the poet in the national culture. Was the poet to be understood as a kind of modernist aesthete, who, as in Auden’s elegy for Yeats, famously “makes nothing happen”?11 Or was the poet, instead, an engaged citizen, an essentially public figure? Pound seemed to be both; his alleged insanity came to serve as a figure for the notion of a self divided precisely along those lines.

The writers in New Masses were responding to a piece in the November 25 edition of the newspaper PM titled “The Case for and against Ezra Pound.” That article comprised a (fairly sympathetic) biographical sketch of Pound, a selection of excerpts from his allegedly treasonous radio broadcasts, six of his poems, and, finally, contributions from E. E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, Karl Shapiro, F. O. Matthiessen, Louis Untermeyer, and Conrad Aiken, under the heading “Poets and Critics Size Up Pound as an Artist and as a Man.”12 (The Pound controversies seemed always to call for the formation of ad hoc committees of “poets and critics.”) Even the heading of the PM symposium reflects, in its reference to both poets and critics considering Pound as both artist and man, an impulse to think of Pound as a divided figure, an impulse reflected also in the format of the piece, which presents bits of his radio broadcasts and his poetry on consecutive pages, encouraging us to read them as the incongruous productions of a bifurcated mind. The sample of his poetic output is drawn mainly from his early work and represents him as an aesthete, leaving out or suppressing the sense in which his poetry had become increasingly polemical in recent years.13 Even at the level of graphic design, care is taken to present Pound the poet in this way: a patterned laurel border surrounds the six poems, setting them off against the prose of the radio broadcasts (and off from the rest of the newspaper). Had Charles Norman, who wrote and compiled the article in PM, chosen his texts differently—had he, for example, excerpted some of Pound’s recently completed Cantos—the newspaper’s readers might have more easily recognized the author of the radio broadcasts in the text of the poems. The point of presenting the poems as isolated art objects was to tease apart aesthete and citizen and to privilege the work of the former while pathologizing the output of the latter.14

The “poets and critics” in PM’s symposium by and large adopt this notion of the divided Pound and, as might be expected, ask the newspaper’s readers to consider the aesthete before convicting the citizen. Pound’s strongest defense in PM, which came from William Carlos Williams, was also the most troubled and uneasy of the group. [End Page 117] Williams begins his contribution with a significant concession: “I can’t write about Ezra Pound with any sort of composure. When I think of the callousness of some of his letters during the last six or seven years, … I want to forget that I ever knew him. … But that isn’t the whole story” (m16). It isn’t the “whole story” because, for Williams, the “whole story” is, paradoxically, a fragmented one. The straightforward depravity of the man Pound has become over the course of the “last six or seven years,” as Williams dates it, is only one aspect of Pound. The necessary lack of composure Williams feels upon writing about Pound mirrors the lack of coherence he finds in his subject.

Asked to judge Pound, though, Williams is more inclined to judge the modernist aesthete than the deplorable and politically engaged friend of the past few years. As a counterweight to his opening condemnation of Pound, Williams offers the following anecdote:

Somehow I am compelled to think of something I once heard about a poet during one of the former Mexican revolutions. This poor guy seeing the men with guns coming down the street shinnied up a telegraph pole. … The troops seeing him up there thought they might as well take a few pot-shots at him. … But at this the man up the pole started to yell, I’m a poet! I’m a poet! The soldiers at that invited him down, gave him a drink and told him to go ahead, poetize for them. Maybe they shot him later, I don’t know.

(m16)

The story is the product of a literary imagination. It resonates so strongly with the episode from Julius Caesar quoted in my epigraph, down to the jocularity, even, of the revolutionaries, that one wonders whether Cinna the poet isn’t the real source for Williams’s Mexican poet. Williams’s defense of Pound is literary, in form as in content, because the Pound Williams wants to countenance remains, exclusively, a literary figure: “He really lived the poet as few of us had the nerve to live that exalted reality in our time” (m16). That unusual phrase, “lived the poet,” suggests, first, that to be a poet is to fill a culturally constructed role, however one modifies it, that preexists one’s own career, and, second, that this authorial role was so unusually, because so completely, filled by Pound, that it really became his identity (such as it never could, say, for Eliot the editor, Stevens the insurance man, or Williams the doctor).

Trouble arises, in this way of thinking, when we mistake the actions of a poet for the actions of a citizen (and, moreover, the importance of the poet for the importance of a citizen). Toward the end of his contribution, Williams argues that “Ezra Pound the consummate poet taken as any sort of menace to America … is sheer childishness. He just isn’t dangerous” (m16). Two months later, in another article in PM, Albert Deutsch would ask, “Is an artist entitled to any special immunity from the legal consequences of allegedly criminal behavior?”15 As Williams sees it, the answer to this question is, essentially, yes, because, in the case of an artist like Pound, his occupation so thoroughly determines his identity that his acts in the world can only be judged from a literary point of view. Pound’s significance, in almost every sense, is poetic. Politically, Williams argues, Pound is just not important enough to be shot.

This is why Karl Shapiro, in his contribution to the PM symposium, expresses a wish that “there are poets on the jury when Pound comes to trial; otherwise it is hopeless to [End Page 118] imagine that Pound’s occupation will have any bearing on his case.” And why F. O. Matthiessen likewise could excuse Pound: “Pound’s way of conjuring up the international Jewish bankers as a scape-goat was far too odd and literary” (m16). Conrad Aiken sees Pound’s politics as a mere extension of his poetics: “The internationalism that always marked his poetry began increasingly to stamp his political thinking” (m17). And E. E. Cummings, in perhaps the pithiest statement of this view of Pound’s identity, claims, in the first contribution to the symposium, that “every artist’s strictly illimitable country is himself” (m16). Called to “size up Pound as an artist and as a man,” the six contributors to PM concede a division in Pound’s character but insist, finally, that Pound the artist subsumes Pound the citizen. They all characterize Pound’s madness, such as it was, as the folly of mistaking poetic power for real political power, and they hasten to warn us that we would be committing precisely Pound’s error in judgment by taking him seriously as a political actor and calling for his head.

The plebeians in Julius Caesar who mistake Cinna the poet for Cinna the conspirator importantly want to “tear him to pieces.” When the poet protests, “I am not Cinna the conspirator,” they respond, “It is no matter, his name’s Cinna. Pluck but his name out of his heart, and turn him going.”16 In the context of the public debate about what to do with Pound, the problem of the doubled Cinna might be read as an allegorical commentary on the difficulty of locating a poet’s identity either in the self who is an actor in the world or in the one who is a merely literary figure, and also on the necessary violence of any attempt to dissociate those two identities. Responding to the case for mercy made by the contributors to PM, the writers who answer the question “Should Ezra Pound Be Shot?” in New Masses demand just such a rending apart of the poet. Here are the first and third paragraphs of Albert Maltz’s contribution:

Over the Italian radio a voice shouted anti-Semitism, offered glorification of fascism, urged treason upon Americans. The voice spoke in wartime, and it belonged to an American citizen. For this an American court indicted the voice and the person. It could have done no less.

And yet some say that the voice and the person of Ezra Pound should be inviolate. I submit that he is not less guilty than the others, but more guilty. He is not less guilty because he is a poet—he is more guilty because he is a poet.17

Maltz wants us first to hear Pound as a disembodied “voice,” which is how, he reminds us, Pound presented himself in his radio broadcasts. The medium of radio uniquely does dissociate, in Maltz’s words, “the voice and the person,” a fact that, on the one hand, allowed Pound to perform as a kind of fragmented set of “personae” and that, on the other, allowed his American listeners access to a disembodied text that they could judge.18 In Maltz’s hands the opportunity for dispassionate judgment, uniquely offered by the medium of radio, is lost just as soon as it has been allowed to divide Pound into a set of binaries: the voice and the person or, alternately, the traitor and the poet. That is, Maltz seems at first to be arguing that we cannot be mistaken about the treason of the voice, whatever we might think about the person from whom that voice [End Page 119] emanates, implying perhaps that despite the fact that it would be more pleasant to be able to shoot the voice and let the person go on making poems, the rule of law must be allowed to prevail, and the execution of Pound the traitor must, regrettably, also be the end of Pound the poet. But this is not Maltz’s view, in the end: “Yet it is because he is a poet that he should be hanged, not once but twice—for treason, as a citizen, and for his poet’s betrayal of all that is decent in human civilization” (4). Maltz divides Pound into two characters: traitor and poet. For the traitor he must recommend death. But he reserves his real venom for the poet. Why? Because of Pound’s betrayal of what, in his view, a poet should be. Like so many of the other contributors, both to PM and to New Masses (and to extend the legal metaphor I have been using to describe this unofficial, public trial), Maltz allows for a division of Pound into two personae throughout the guilt phase, only then to reconstruct him as an integral self for the purposes of the penalty phase. The writers in PM reconstitute Pound as an aesthete, while the writers in New Masses reconstitute him as a citizen, and therefore as a traitor.

Maltz’s view is typical of those in the New Masses symposium; it is a view most fully developed by Arthur Miller and Norman Rosten. Just as Williams began his defense of Pound by conceding that Pound was a despicable political creature, Miller begins his rebuttal of the PM position by conceding Pound’s greatness as a poet—“All six [of the contributors to PM] agree that Pound’s contribution to literature was of the highest order. With this no man can argue”—but insists that Pound’s crimes were real, not literary: “Not being a poet, I used to listen, now and then, to Ezra Pound sending from Europe, and I can tell Mr. Matthiessen that in his wildest moments of human vilification Hitler never approached our Ezra. … He was neither ‘odd’ nor ‘literary.’ His stuff was straight fascism with all the anti-Semitism, anti-foreignism included” (5) Throughout his piece, Miller is at pains to demonstrate, by adopting the rhetoric of plain speech, that he is no poet (e.g., “If I may be pardoned some non-poetical language, the boys are cutting the baloney pretty thick” [5]). Having set aside the matter of Pound the aesthete, Miller and the others in New Masses aim to engage Pound the citizen in language that is appropriately plain and unadorned. “We are not evaluating his poems,” writes Norman Rosten (6). When Miller asks the PM contributors “what they would say if four well-known bridge engineers asked such immunity for another bridge engineer who had gone abroad to work and propagandize for the enemy,” the implication is that poetry is an occupation like any other and that Pound’s occupation has nothing essentially to do with his crimes, which are, themselves, banal but incontrovertible (5). For Rosten, most interestingly (and this might begin to explain the bloodthirst of the New Masses position), the death Pound will suffer at the hands of the state will be proof that he is, first and last, an ordinary man living in an unmetaphorical world: “Karl Shapiro, commenting in PM, dryly remarks, ‘If there is any principle involved, I should like to know what it is.’ The principle, Mr. Shapiro, is justice. Not poetic justice, just the ordinary prose kind. … It is unfortunate indeed that Mr. Pound considered his poisonous mouthings akin to the innocence of poetry. It was not. And Mr. Pound shall find death no clever metaphor” (6). In PM, Louis Untermeyer had suggested a different fate for Pound: “I do not believe that he should be shot. I would [End Page 120] favor merely life imprisonment in a cell surrounded by books—all of them copies of the works of Edgar A. Guest” (m17). Rosten rejects this ironic position in form as he does in content; for him, the death of Pound will also be a kind of death of metaphor, and Pound’s mortality will confirm that even a poet is what the writers in New Masses insist he always was: a political actor.

But just as Rosten seemed cheered by the prospect of Pound’s execution, Miller was dismayed by the implications of his possible release—more dismayed, it should be noted, for what Pound’s release might mean for poetry than for politics. Miller, again addressing the defense mounted by Pound’s friends in PM, understands that effort as one of self-definition: “In asking us to laugh away Ezra Pound they have demonstrated that they regard themselves as poseurs and harmless clowns. … Thus they have defined ‘poet’ for their age” (6). To the extent that the writers in New Masses accept the distinction between Pound the aesthete and Pound the citizen, they want the citizen to be shot for his crimes. Behind this desire, as they freely admit, is an attempt to offer a definition of the poet that might compete with the one suggested by the contributions to PM.19 For Miller and the others in New Masses, a citizen must always be ethically accountable, even or especially when writing a poem. For them, the death of Pound would not only be the death of a traitor but would also signal the death of the irresponsible artist.

On December 26, 1945, the day after the New Masses story appeared, Pound sat for his admissions photo to St. Elizabeths (fig. 3). In this photo, he looks directly into the camera with a bewildered expression on his face. Head cocked to the right, Pound’s lips are parted and his eyes wide open. He wears a jacket and tie, but the button on his shirt collar is undone, the tie loosened, and while one half of his collar is tucked beneath the jacket, the other half remains outside.20 Here is the modern-day “Cinna the poet,” bewildered at having been mistaken for “Cinna the conspirator,” except that in this case there’s been no mistake—hence the fragmentation at every level of this portrait. Pound’s expression and posture give the impression of someone being pulled in two directions at once, cracking up before our eyes. Pound had been admitted to St. Elizabeths on December 21 because, a week earlier, a committee of four court-appointed psychiatrists had found him to be legally insane.21 On the day of his admission to St. Elizabeths, the finding of the psychiatrists was made public. Their letter to the court concludes: “He is abnormally grandiose, is expansive and exuberant in manner, exhibiting pressure of speech, discursiveness, and distractibility. … He is, in other words, insane and mentally unfit for trial, and is in need of care in a mental hospital.”22

There is something comic about needing a team of psychiatrists to determine that the author of the Cantos was “abnormally grandiose, … expansive and exuberant in manner, exhibiting pressure of speech, discursiveness, and distractibility,” but the implicit comparison between the symptoms of Pound’s insanity and the characteristics of his poetry is not an idle one. Despite the fact that the insanity defense mounted by Pound’s lawyer, Julien Cornell, was not intended to prove that Pound was insane at the time of his alleged treason but rather simply at the present moment of his impending trial, the diagnosis offered by the four psychiatrists resonates strongly with the Pound [End Page 121] of the radio broadcasts, who could also very easily have been described as grandiose, expansive, and distractible. That the formal diagnosis of Pound the defendant should have so closely described both Pound the poet and Pound the alleged traitor suggests, finally, that Pound’s insanity consisted precisely in the division articulated in the public debate between PM and New Masses. In other words, what made Pound “mentally unfit” for trial, in the court’s finding, what made him “of unsound mind,” was the same irreparable fragmentation of his identity made manifest in the ongoing public debate about his alleged treason. To put Pound back together again was to describe a madman. One month later, in a diagnostic case conference at St. Elizabeths, Pound offered a self-diagnosis that, in its echoes of the public debate, suggests the extent to which that public contest over his identity provided the terms with which even he could describe

Fig 3. Ezra Pound, upon his admission to St. Elizabeths Hospital, December 26, 1945.<br/><br/>Courtesy of the National Archives. Photo no. 418-DP-46.
Click for larger view
View full resolution
Fig 3.

Ezra Pound, upon his admission to St. Elizabeths Hospital, December 26, 1945.

Courtesy of the National Archives. Photo no. 418-DP-46.

[End Page 122]

his own mental state: “No, I don’t think I am insane, but I am so shot to pieces that it would take me years to write a sensible piece of prose. I think I am of unsound mind, and I don’t think I have been shown good treatment here. I am absolutely unfit to transact any business” (Torrey, Roots of Treason, 204).

On January 16, 1946, the attorney general’s office requested a formal statutory inquisition into Pound’s mental state; the inquisition took place on February 13 of that year (Norman, Case, 105). Each of the four psychiatrists was called to testify before a jury, whose task it was to determine whether Pound was of sound or unsound mind. The psychiatrists’ testimony shows how Pound’s “insanity” might itself be read as a manifestation of the unresolved contestation of his identity. More than anything, it was Pound’s inability to carry on a rational and coherent conversation that led to the belief that he was unfit for trial. Wendell Muncie, for example, characterized Pound’s “distractibility” this way: “If he is asked a specific question as to a specific situation, he begins to make an answer and then all of a sudden is making a statement about a number of topics which may be clear in his mind but cannot be clear in the examiner’s mind” (111–12). Marion King gave similar testimony: “He gets sidetracked and talks about some other subject. … Usually the trend involves economic theories and proposals and much of it revolved about his revision of the monetary system” (135). Winfred Overholser, the superintendent of St. Elizabeths, put the problem simply: “He speaks in bunches of ideas” (149). As the psychiatrists describe what it is like to have a conversation with Pound, we begin to see the extent to which he was not able to reconcile the various identities he had come to assume, suggesting that the debate between his supporters in PM and his attackers in New Masses was not only unresolved but also irresolvable. Muncie was asked if he had ever read Pound’s writings; he testified that Pound’s poetry had become, to his untrained eye, as inscrutable as his conversation now seemed (and for many of the same reasons): “I have read a great deal of his writings in preparing for this case, and it is my idea that there has been for a number of years a deterioration of the mental processes” (114). Later in the morning, King was asked to compare what he knew of Pound’s early and late poetry; he said to the jury: “Well, I saw one of his poems, that he had prepared in the camp at Pisa which, of course, was incoherent and impossible for me to understand, as compared with the earlier” (144). In the view of both Muncie and King, the safe borders that had existed between Pound’s identity as a poet and his identity as a political actor (think of the laurel border surrounding the selection of early poems in the PM piece) have now fallen away completely, with the result that Pound now speaks to lawyers and psychiatrists as though he were writing a poem and writes poems as though he were addressing psychiatrists and lawyers. Indeed, the Pisan poem that King most likely had read was a manuscript of a portion of Canto 80 (the canto begins, “Ain’ committed no federal crime, / jes a slaight misdemeanor”), which Pound’s lawyer had included, together with the PM symposium and a copy of one of Pound’s radio transcripts, in dossiers submitted to the psychiatrists (103) The incoherence of the transcript is like the incoherence of the canto; both are meant to demonstrate the extent to which Pound has indeed been “shot to pieces.” [End Page 123]

After the testimony of the psychiatrists, it took the jury three minutes to return with their verdict: “unsound mind” (180). And so Pound was neither convicted nor acquitted as a traitor, and the public debate between his defenders in PM and his attackers in New Masses was never resolved. Instead, that debate was suspended at a point when it had exhaustively drawn out the equally irreconcilable division within Pound’s own mind, a division whose legal confirmation ensured that Pound would be indefinitely confined in St. Elizabeths. Pound’s confinement institutionalized the figure of the mad poet in a broader sense, inasmuch as his confinement imprinted itself onto postwar culture. I have claimed that one of the best, if least likely, places to discern that imprint was in the institutional office given, by the very government that called Pound a traitor, to a series of younger poets whom that same government now saw fit to honor. And so it is to that office, and to two of the laureates who filled it in the postwar years, that I now turn.

The Poet in the Grey Flannel Suit

They made me pass as a madman, in order that young people should not listen to me any more.

Ezra Pound (quoted in Torrey, Roots of Treason, 261)

On January 26, 1950, Elizabeth Bishop sat looking out at the dome of the United States Capitol from her desk in the Library of Congress and scribbled in her notebook: “Where is the capitol? the real one being somewhere else—”23 Her question, posed at the bottom of a page of notes and description that, she hoped, would eventually work their way into a “Washington poem,” captures perfectly the confusion felt by so many of the poets who sat at the same desk in the postwar years. Without an explicit job description, the consultants in poetry were left to wonder what their official positions meant and, more specifically, what relationship their nascent careers bore to the monuments to and emblems of the state power with which they were surrounded.24 Bishop’s question suggests, moreover, that those public monuments and official emblems were not wholly convincing representations or manifestations of the cultural authority one expected to find in the nation’s capital.25 One central location of this cultural authority was to be found, paradoxically, in the marginal position of the poet in the madhouse in southeast Washington, and it was only by reckoning with the figure of the mad, fragmented Ezra Pound that the postwar consultants, representatives of a new generation of United States poets, were able to form their poetic identities.

I take up two of those consultants in particular, Karl Shapiro and Elizabeth Bishop, not because they were exemplary holders of the office but rather because both chafed at the demands of the role (in terms religious, sexual, and political), and in so doing suggest its contours. Shapiro and Bishop both, in the records of their uneasy tenures in Washington, help us to define the job that came without a description and to describe the cultural position the consultant was meant to occupy. My primary interest here is in how those two lives help us understand the figure of the consultant as one quasi-official articulation of what a poet in the postwar period might be, especially insofar [End Page 124] as that figure incongruously overlapped with—shared the stage with—the figure suggested by Pound in St. Elizabeths. The two figures, suggested in turn by Pound and the consultant, interacted both literally and figuratively: literally to the extent that various consultants of the postwar period reckoned with the incarcerated Pound and then figuratively in ways modeled by their professional interactions and literal visits with Pound and made manifest in their poems and lives.

Karl Shapiro and Poetry’s Magic Circle

Karl Shapiro was just the man for the job. Young, a new father, home from the army and the war, Shapiro had won the Pulitzer Prize in 1945 for his second book, V-Letter. He wrote to Allen Tate, with whom he had become friends after Tate glowingly reviewed his first book, Person, Place and Thing (1942), turning to this older, influential friend for help in finding a job.26 Tate had himself been consultant in 1943–44 and was a founding member of a committee, the Fellows of the Library of Congress in American Letters, whose responsibilities included recommending new consultants.27 Tate and Robert Penn Warren (also a fellow and a former consultant) put in their recommendations for Shapiro, and the librarian of Congress, Luther Evans, quickly offered Shapiro the position.

In his memoir, Reports of My Death, Shapiro tells the story of his first day at work and of his first meeting with Evans. The anecdote describes in literal terms what I have called the cultural role awaiting the postwar poet as well as the tension that results when a specific poet is called on to conform to the demands of such an assignation:

The date for his meeting with the Librarian of Congress came and the poet dressed with careful nonchalance—… the secret was to dress inconspicuously in clothes of passable quality that should not draw attention for being too new or expensive or too shoddy. …

The poet was not ushered into the Librarian’s office but was told by a lone secretary that the door was open and to walk right in. A stocky man in a blue suit got up in a kind of crouching position and held out his hand. The secretary had shut the door. “Shapiro,” the Librarian said as a complete sentence, and he looked at the poet.

“Shapiro,” the Librarian of Congress said, “we don’t want any Communists or cock-suckers in this Library.”

(Reports, 13)

When Williams defended his friend Pound in PM, he said that Pound had “lived the poet” more than any other member of their generation; here in Shapiro’s memoir we see him making a similar kind of attempt to “live” the culturally constructed identity of the poet, but this “poet,” apparently, has left behind Pound’s Byronic collars, cape, and cane, trading them in for the unremarkable dress of a modest businessman. The paradoxical “careful nonchalance” with which the poet should dress suggests that the postwar poet should conform to broader models of professional decorum, if somewhat reluctantly.28 In other words, the poet should conform so well that not even his success as a conformist should be noticeable. As the ironic deflation of Shapiro’s anecdote makes clear, this expectation of cultural conformity is something he can begin to anticipate in choosing his dress but whose broader implications he cannot appreciate until he [End Page 125] is confronted bodily by the crude example of the stocky, Texan librarian of Congress, Luther Evans. As Evans sees things, a newly appointed poet might very well be a “Communist or cocksucker”—that is, disruptive, dangerous, and marginal, either politically or sexually—and all new appointees had better be warned that they were working for the government now.29 Of course, Shapiro had just come from a government job, which he himself remembered when confronted with a set of “instructions” after failing to follow the usual hiring procedures in choosing his secretary: “The poet leafed through the Instructions and in a flash saw that he was back in the Army, as it were, that the Army was the government and the government was the Army and that that was where the language or un-language came from” (17). Shapiro notes that the regulations of martial life remake in their own image the rituals and protocols of the postwar office.

Shapiro’s response to this bracing early lesson in the professional decorum of the Library of Congress reveals (as he moves swiftly from shock to defiance) the adoption of a strategy that would prove useful throughout much of his career: he found a way to live a literary life divided between, on the one hand, an allegiance to traditional sources of power and authority and, on the other, an eagerness to reveal those same sources as hollow or even pernicious.30 When Evans addresses him twice as “Shapiro,” before telling him “we don’t want any Communists or cocksuckers in this library,” he can safely infer that the institution (here manifest as the Library of Congress) welcoming the postwar poet into his new professional role is also, with a latent kind of anti-Semitism, putting that poet on notice about the conformity that would be expected of him. Shapiro’s response to the librarian’s “welcome” is telling, inasmuch as it attests both to the poet’s awareness of the hostility of his reception and to his own willingness to work within the very institution that beholds him so warily: “In a sense it steeled him and he would do the job well, he would make it a job worth its name and he would show the redneck Texan that a kike knew what a library was better than he ever would, and in fact after a year on the job the Librarian himself asked him to stay on for a second year, which had never been done before, and the poet declined” (Reports, 14). Shapiro’s last claim, that a poet had never been asked to stay on for a second year, was not strictly true (Joseph Auslander, the first occupant of the “chair in poetry,” served from 1937 to 1941, and Archibald MacLeish had tried to persuade Allen Tate to stay on beyond his appointment in 1943–44); nevertheless, Shapiro’s self-assessment reveals that his “job performance” as consultant corresponded precisely to his alienation from the institution to which his performance had given him, in his mind at least, unprecedented access.

What might be described as double consciousness, the poet’s simultaneous participation in and alienation from the institutional life of postwar literary America, permeates Shapiro’s account of his emerging career: “If there was such a thing as a literary life—and the poet knew there was such a thing and had read about it, so that he shared the common view that writers have a life that no one else can participate in and that is superior to every other kind of life—he would now get as close to it as he ever would in his own life before he discovered that he didn’t really belong there and was being kicked out of its orbit as fast as he came close to the magic circle” (18). Shapiro was the writer who, a year before being offered the consultantship, had voiced the hope in [End Page 126] PM that there would be poets on the jury when Pound came to trial. From the point of view of the memoir, this belief in a “jury of poets” is the naïve position of a poet who still feels as though he might be a true member of something called the “literary life”; we can now see how the young Shapiro might have taken his invitation to participate in that PM symposium, which featured such established modern poets as Williams, Cummings, and Aiken, as a testament to his own election to a “magic circle.” Indeed, it was through the figure of Pound that Shapiro’s complicated relationship to institutional authority was mediated. For it was also Shapiro who, a year after leaving the Washington post, would become the loudest voice of dissent on the same committee, the Fellows of the Library of Congress in American Letters, that had recommended him for the consultantship (a committee of which, as a former consultant, he was now a member) and that now had decided to honor Pound with the Bollingen Prize in Poetry. Once a defender of Pound on the basis of his belief in an impermeable community of writers, Shapiro found himself transformed into (or, better yet, returned to) the role of the outsider, when, in the controversy that followed the fellows’ decision to give the prize to Pound, he became a marginal voice of dissent.

The public case against the awarding of the Bollingen Prize to Pound was made with the most vehemence by Robert Hillyer, a poet and professor, in two articles in the Saturday Review of Literature.31 Hillyer used the articles as an occasion to launch an attack not only on Pound and the Fellows of the Library of Congress in American Letters who had honored him but also on what he called, in the headline of his second article, “Poetry’s New Priesthood,” the “new critics,” whose “party line,” he claimed, “is merely the old doctrine of art-for-art’s-sake titivated with plumes of voodoo jargon to overawe the young.”32 Shapiro shared with Hillyer the feeling that the aestheticism of the fellows masked a more pernicious cultural program. Shapiro had originally given his vote to Pound and the Pisan Cantos but then switched his vote to Williams and Paterson II, stating in Partisan Review that “I am a Jew and cannot honor antisemites.”33 For Shapiro, too, what was equally as distressing as Pound’s politics was the literary institution that sought to protect him and to protect art itself by withdrawing it from the “real world.” In his second article in the Saturday Review, Hillyer approvingly cited a letter by Shapiro (whom he called “an honest mind confused by the miasma of estheticism”) to the Baltimore Sun: “I disagree vehemently with the principle embodied in the Library press release that to judge a work on other than esthetic grounds is to ‘deny the objective perception of value on which any civilized society must rest.’ … I think it can be pointed out that such an interpretation of literature stems directly from a coterie of writers called the ‘new critics.’”34 The “coterie of writers” to whom Shapiro refers includes, presumably, all of those writers with whom he identified and on whose support he depended for the formation of his career in the years following the war. The shift in Shapiro’s thinking was dramatic. In his memoir, Shapiro would cast this “conversion” (a conversion that was really a refusal to be converted) in explicitly religious terms: [End Page 127]

He … began to feel that he had been tricked and made a fool of, began to feel a Judas which was what they wanted him to be, wasn’t it, with the new Catholic convert Robert Lowell licking T.S. Eliot’s boots and the new Anglican convert Auden licking his wounds over his Jewish lover, and giving the prize to Ezra Pound under indictment for high treason, he who had done more for Hitler than any English-speaking person in the world and who was holding seminars at this moment probably in St. Elizabeth’s Hospital for the criminally insane, or whatever they called it, and who was going to be let out because he was a poet. It was all right for poets to hate Jews, because they were poets and said that poetry makes nothing happen.

(Reports, 42–43)

In the span of just a few years, Shapiro remakes himself from being, as it were, a junior member of the coterie that leapt to Pound’s defense in the pages of PM to an avowedly marginalized and disenchanted critic of that same coterie’s pretensions.

This paradoxical position, that of the excluded insider or the included alien, was not one Shapiro assumed only or simply in his life. Rather, this social and cultural stance that he had developed largely in response to the Bollingen controversy would serve also as a kind of literary self-positioning, not simply in the “literary life” to which he had been granted access but also from within Shapiro’s own literary output, as the carefully constructed rhetorical position of a poetic persona. In this way, Shapiro’s career provides an illustration of what kind of poetry a consultant might produce, a vivid example of his generation’s necessary reckoning with the figure of the incarcerated Pound. Even before Shapiro became an influential participant in the Pound controversies, he had already, as a “war poet” in the poems of V-Letter, self-consciously begun to write poems from the well-defined social vantage of the “soldier.” But it was Shapiro’s entry into the Pound controversies of the postwar years that provided an even more obvious opportunity for a self-fashioning at once political and literary, one that emerged naturally from the official status conferred by Shapiro’s wartime service and his tenure as consultant. Just as V-Letter continually announces itself as the work of a war poet, Shapiro’s postwar volume Trial of a Poet (1947) obsessively positions and repositions its author with respect to the war from which he has recently returned and a pantheon of poets whose postwar careers were, in different ways and to different effects, nevertheless analogously fashioned by the conduct of their wartime lives.

Throughout the volume, the widening temporal and spatial distance Shapiro feels from the war portends a more general disengagement from the soldier’s life; demobilization becomes a metaphor for poetic election or maturation. In “Homecoming,” the poet declares that “now I stand alone / And hate the swarms of khaki men that crawl / Like lice upon the wrinkled hide of earth.”35 “Demobilization,” another poem from the volume, figures this same homecoming as a “graduat[ion] from war” and struggles to individuate its author from among a group of fifty soldiers standing, one last time, at attention: “Within this square / I am somewhere but difficult to find” (28). Here and elsewhere, the poet emerges as someone on whom official status has been conferred but whose own individuality has all the while been preserved by his ultimate unwillingness to wear the uniform. One particularly interesting example of his characteristic ambivalence can be found in Shapiro’s treatment of the figure of Robert Lowell, whose [End Page 128] wartime decision to be a conscientious objector contrasted obviously with Shapiro’s service. Lowell’s famous family name and public refusal of service stand in the background of Shapiro’s curiously eulogistic poem “The Conscientious Objector,” which concludes “Your conscience is / What we come back to in the armistice” (30–31).36 Shapiro’s “we” excludes Lowell but simultaneously sides with him in objecting to the “herd hypnosis” that would sacrifice “personality” for fear of “prison,” or that would leave the “soldier kissing the hot beach” without a “conscience” to which to return. The poet stands simultaneously with and apart from both soldier and CO and in so doing rejects the more easily defined public stance of the poet whom Hillyer had seen fit to champion.

But nowhere is Shapiro’s characteristic ambivalence more clear and nowhere is it more clearly developed in response to the figure of Pound than in the verse drama “The Trial of a Poet” that lends the volume its title. The poem is a thinly veiled and highly stylized dramatization of the Pound controversy. Its central character, identified simply as “Poet,” stands trial for a crime that is initially described as a literal act of “treason” but then characterized by “Priest,” “Doctor,” and “Public Officer” as “madness,” “Genius,” and “style itself” (60–61). All of the positions, that is to say, that emerged in the public discourse following Pound’s indictment are given voice in Shapiro’s drama, and all are subject to some degree of ironic deflation as they take the stage. But just as the Shapiro who wrote in Pound’s defense in PM had hoped there would be “poets on the jury” when Pound came to trial, so too does the Shapiro of this verse drama give the most crucial lines (apart, perhaps, from those of the Poet himself) to a “Chorus” of poets, made up, we might well imagine, of luminaries like those who had joined Shapiro in the pages of PM (indeed the volume is dedicated to F. O. Matthiessen, the critic on the PM panel).

As the drama concludes, the sleeping Poet is roused and speaks (always in prose) first on his own behalf and then finally, taking the apparently absent Judge’s bench, as a commentator on all the speeches that have preceded his. He speaks in judgment of “the prisoner,” to whom he refers in the third person, as Shapiro would himself do in his memoir: “I am going to say precisely what I mean, without overtones of irony, cynicism or allegory; I am not here to protect or discriminate against the prisoner but to understand the interplay of asides contributed by the three protagonists and the Chorus” (73). For the contemporary reader who knew of Shapiro’s early defense of Pound in PM or his later dissent in the Bollingen controversy, the effect of this complex act of ventriloquism (Shapiro as Pound, Pound as his own judge) must have been dizzying. Pound never took the stand, much less the judge’s bench, in his own abortive trial, but here Shapiro promotes him to the level of choral interpreter of even the Chorus of poets who have risen to his defense. About this Chorus the Poet says: “They continue to emphasize the accidental nature of the crime (as if the Poet were the victim of a conspiracy) and the mental sufferings he has undergone. In the last analysis they ask to share his guilt” (77). While it seems pointedly difficult to locate Shapiro’s own position among the voices of his drama, we can see Shapiro, in this moment at least, withdrawing from the chorus of poets in PM—not to join Robert Hillyer or Pound’s executioners in New Masses but instead to stand apart, as he had in the case of the conscientious [End Page 129] objector Lowell, both with and against the traitor Pound. Although the poet on trial in Shapiro’s verse drama is Pound, in a broader sense he can be understood as a precursor of the obliquely self-referential poet of Shapiro’s own memoir. Neither poet is in any simple sense Shapiro himself, but both are “trial poets,” in the sense that both are officially recognized yet nevertheless provisional positions from which Shapiro can speak and from which he can always also stand apart. Shapiro’s “trial poet” manages both to give the impression of independence and of institutional security, to speak in a voice of “careful nonchalance” from both within and without poetry’s “magic circle.”

Saint Elizabeth

Having been convinced by Robert Lowell to accept the position of consultant when it was offered to her, a nervous Elizabeth Bishop had one final question for her friend, “If I get the Washington job—I don’t have necessarily to give a lot of ‘readings,’ do I?”37 The quotation marks Bishop places around the word “readings” suggest her discomfort with that emerging cultural ritual; this discomfort both remained with Bishop over the course of her life and precipitated urgent bouts of anxiety before and during her term in Washington (1949–50), a year that coincided with the first of Dylan Thomas’s celebrated visits to the United States.38 Thomas visited Bishop at the Library of Congress and made a recording for their archive; when Bishop learned of Thomas’s death nearly four years later, she wrote a letter to her friend Pearl Kazin in which she despaired of his death and struggled to explain it: “Why do some poets manage to get by and live to be malicious old bores like Frost or—probably—pompous old ones like Yeats, or crazy old ones like Pound—and some just don’t! … But why oh why did he have to go & die now? Was he unhappy about those readings? I wonder” (One Art, 276). This anxiety about readings serves as a synecdoche for the way the institutional role of the consultant demanded a public performance of the poet who filled it. And it is in the record of her resistance to the pressure of those demands that Bishop’s tenure as consultant has the most to teach us about the institutionalization of the postwar poet.

Never a very prolific poet, Bishop was, even by her own standards, especially unprolific during her year in Washington. Her sporadically kept journal from 1950 (under which year, on its title page, she has written the phrase, “Just about my worst, so far—”) is full of characteristically descriptive passages. Many of these seem to have been composed as she sat at the consultant’s desk, and she occasionally tried to work these passages up into poems.39 One poem that eventually did arise out of those journal entries was “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress,” a poem that in some sense describes both its own composition and Bishop’s felt need to begin a public career. The poet begins by passively describing the view from the consultant’s office—“Moving from left to left, the light / is heavy on the Dome, and coarse”—and then discovers, from that official point of view, the need for public speech:

On the east steps the Air Force Bandin uniforms of Air Force blueis playing hard and loud, but—queer—the music doesn’t quite come through. [End Page 130] It comes in snatches, dim then keen,then mute, and yet there is no breeze.The giant trees stand in between.I think the trees must intervene,. . .Great shades, edge over,give the music room.The gathered brasses want to goboom—boom.40

For the consultant who watches and listens through her office window, the “Air Force Band” might offer some absurdly exaggerated version of herself—a government-funded artist whose official appointment and location at the seat of legislative power seems not enough to produce “music” in anything more than “snatches, dim then keen, / then mute.” More to the point, the failure of this heteronormative, masculinist music, “hard and loud” as it is being played, to “come through,” to perform an intransitive kind of penetration, is understood in the poet’s aside as “queer.”

We can well imagine what impression Luther Evans, anxious as he was about poets who might be “Communists or cocksuckers,” would have made on the closeted Bishop. In Pursuing Privacy in Cold War America (2002), Deborah Nelson describes the period’s typical job-screening forms, which “had been developed to ferret out political subversives” but which “were essentially targeting homosexuals.” The point, as Nelson succinctly puts it, is that “homosexuality and political deviance were merely different species of the same crime: undermining the ‘American way of life.’”41 Indeed, although Bishop was evidently guarded enough about her sexuality to qualify for the consultantship, her elevation to that position was not met without some thinly veiled homophobic resentment. Wesley Wehr recounts Bishop’s own memory of such an incident: “Elizabeth said to me in 1966 that when she was given the Library of Congress poetry position, ‘A’ was most resentful. ‘A’ told her in no uncertain terms that ‘A’ felt that he or she should have had the job, because, after all, ‘A’ had a family, and Elizabeth didn’t.”42 Whether or not an unmarried, childless thirty-eight-year-old woman was necessarily a lesbian, she seemed certainly, in the implication of Wehr’s anonymous and therefore androgynous (but presumably straight) “A,” to be queer and consequently inappropriate for the institutional position. Joseph Frank, who knew Bishop during the same year in Washington, confirms this impression in other terms: “She wasn’t a regular fellow—she was more Canadian and more English than she was American” (Fountain and Brazeau, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, 116). If “A” couches a complaint about Bishop’s sexuality in terms of the sanctity of the nuclear family, Frank uses the overdetermined language of gender construction (in which to be a “fellow” is to be “regular” and vice versa) to complain about the discomfiting ambiguity of Bishop’s national identity. Bishop’s own mildly leftist politics (more Partisan Review than New Masses, to be fair) might have made her as unsuitable for the position as her sexuality; that she would have had to be secretive about both suggests the kinds of pressures that would have made the year an unproductive one for her or that would have led her to hear her own ironic echo in the conspicuous silences of the Air Force band.43 [End Page 131]

If Bishop did in fact feel anything like this identification with the frustrated band below her window, then it is some measure of her discomfort with her own official position that she would describe the band, by poem’s end, as a group of trigger-happy generals, “gathered brasses [who] want to go / boom—boom,” and in that sense implicitly conflate the poetic speech she felt demanded of her with the destructive sounds of war.44 But “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress” is also a midcentury poem about an extended moment of generational succession in which modernism’s masters, the “great shades” of the century’s first half, would have to “edge over” for a generation of poets to whom had been granted, as it is to the band in Bishop’s poem, institutional authority and a stage that demanded speech. And despite the discomfort that Bishop undoubtedly did feel in her official post, clearly she felt just as urgently a need to be heard.

Public speech, of course, is what had gotten “crazy old” Pound, that other Washington poet, into so much trouble, and, to Bishop, Pound indeed did represent a kind of nightmare version of what it might mean to be a public poet. Like Lowell before her, while in Washington, Bishop paid fairly regular visits to Pound in St. Elizabeths, bringing him books and periodicals that he would request from the shelves of the library or gifts like the “eau-de-cologne” that, as she recorded in mock horror in her journal on February 21, 1950, Pound had apparently been using as “hair-lotion,” along with, always, other poets and friends.45 Pound, she confessed in a letter to Lowell, “sees right through me—tells everyone how I always ‘have to bring someone else along,’ etc.”46 Eustace Mullins, a Pound acolyte and biographer who knew Bishop during this period, claims that Bishop “insisted that the way in which [Pound] twisted the ends of his beard gave him a quite diabolical appearance.”47 Bishop apparently regarded the visits to Pound as a kind of unpleasant duty, and in that respect they were one sign of Bishop’s reluctant willingness to play the public role of the consultant. It is less remarkable that Bishop would have found the visits unpleasant than that she continued to make them, however irregularly—so seriously, evidently, did she take the unofficial responsibilities, traditional and old-fashioned as they were, of her official and public position.

Pound’s grotesque exaggeration of just such a public figure seems to have made those visits particularly unnerving. Bishop’s friend Marjorie Brush recalls what Bishop told her about those visits: “Elizabeth told me about how awful those visits were, how she suffered visiting Pound because he lived in a room with no doors” (Fountain and Brazeau, Remembering Elizabeth Bishop, 115). Brett Millier, Bishop’s biographer, suggests that those visits “confronted [Bishop] with an opposite model to her own idea of how to be a poet,” a model that saw him directing “literary (and economic) world affairs largely from self-appointed positions but still conceiv[ing] of himself in 1949 as a man of letters and a literary figure” (Elizabeth Bishop, 222). During a year, then, in which Bishop herself ascended to an official and public position of cultural prominence, she encountered not only Dylan Thomas, a poet whose public persona, in her mind, permeated even his private death, but Ezra Pound, whose “self-appointment” as a public figure had placed him, literally and tragically, in a “room with no doors,” that is, without any semblance of a private life. [End Page 132]

Bishop, like Shapiro before her, simultaneously shrank from and was fascinated by the figure of Pound. After her year in Washington and a brief stay in New York, Bishop moved almost entirely out of the literary life of the United States and lived, for the better part of the next two decades, in Brazil. From that vantage point, she completed a poem called “Visits to St. Elizabeths” (Collected Poems, 133–35). The poem, Bishop’s contribution to a 1956 issue of the Italian Nuova corrente that was devoted to Pound (and reprinted in 1957 in Partisan Review and also in Questions of Travel in 1965), documents precisely the bifurcated phenomenon which I have named in my article’s title.48 “Visits to St. Elizabeths” understands Pound’s place in the hospital, in the first place, as the literal determination of content by form. Pound’s person is built by the structure of the house in which he lives—he is institutionalized—a relationship suggested already in the poem’s first two stanzas: “This is the house of Bedlam. // This is the man / that lies in the house of Bedlam.” What comes first in Bishop’s account is the mythological “house”; the “man” is grammatically (and, by implication, ontologically) subordinate to the architecture in which he “lies,” a verb that summons not only the specter of his malingering dishonesty but also of his passivity (we would think differently of a man who, say, “sits,” or “lives,” or “dwells” in such a house). The poem, clearly modeled on the nursery rhyme, “The House that Jack Built,” adds a detail in every stanza that is subordinate to those collected in the previous stanza, so that as the structure described by the poem gets filled out by the rhetorical structure of the poem, the “man” contained and described within those walls and those lines is continually redefined by his context.

The most immediately legible record of that redefinition is the series of adjectives (or, in one, important case, an appositive noun) that modifies the man who is located in the house of Bedlam. If the first stanza establishes the poem’s institutional setting, and the second situates its human subject within that setting, then, by the third stanza, which refers to the “time” of our subject, he, too, has gained an attribute, presumably the product of his newly stated chronological context: he is now, in time, the “tragic man”:

This is the timeof the tragic manthat lies in the house of Bedlam.

In the poem’s subsequent stanzas he is described, in turn, as “talkative,” “honored,” “old, brave,” “cranky,” “cruel,” “busy,” “tedious,” “the poet,” and, finally, “wretched.” These attributes attach easily to the paradoxical Pound of St. Elizabeths, the figure contested in the various ways this article has described, and no great interpretive stretch is required to see cases in which a stanza’s introductory addition to the composite image of “Bedlam” produces a corresponding shift in the man’s properties. When the figure of the “Jew in a newspaper hat” is first named, Pound the anti-Semite is recalled and described as “cruel.” When the poem describes the hospital as a kind of nightmarish library, a “world of books gone flat,” the Pound Bishop conjures is the officious, “busy” pedagogue of the Rapallo “Ezuversity.” One could go on producing such more or [End Page 133] less tendentious readings, which, together, would suggest that, if the poem describes Pound as the product of the institution in which he lies, then that institution ought to be understood as populated by figures against whose caricatures the same poet has, over the years, drawn his self-image. The “soldier home from the war,” the “boy that pats the floor,” the “Jew in a newspaper hat,” and the “crazy sailor” all may well have been versions of the “catatonics and dementia praecox cases” whom Weldon Kees had observed “slithering about” on his St. Elizabeths visit with Bishop, but of course they are all also figures drawn, in one manner or another, from the “unsound mind” of the author of the Cantos. The history that accumulates in the opening line of the penultimate stanza, “These are the years and the walls and the door,” in that sense both produces and is produced by the appositive noun phrase, “the poet,” which describes that stanza’s “man.” Bishop’s poem fixes Pound into a Bedlam of his own imagining, an institution that is no less real for having been prefigured in his poetry.

But, as its own title makes clear, “Visits to St. Elizabeths” is not primarily a portrait of Pound so much as it is the product of the cathexis of the institutionalized Pound felt by his postwar visitor. “This is the soldier home from the war,” the poem’s final stanza announces, in one of its characteristic, deictic opening statements:

This is the soldier home from the war.These are the years and the walls and the doorthat shut on a boy that pats the floorto see if the world is round or flat.This is a Jew in a newspaper hatthat dances carefully down the ward,walking the plank of a coffin boardwith the crazy sailorthat shows his watchthat tells the timeof the wretched manthat lies in the house of Bedlam.

St. Elizabeths was, in its earliest years, a home to the recuperating soldiers of the Civil War, and of course Pound’s presence in its halls was in fact the result of his own wartime conduct.49 In that sense we can read that final stanza’s “soldier home from the war” as another refracted version of Pound, the St. Elizabeths madman. But that soldier is also Karl Shapiro, or rather the type or figure whom he so readily became in the postwar years. The “soldier home from the war” is the consultant, the poet whose power was inscribed—and circumscribed—by a national culture that had emerged in triumph from the Second World War, a culture that rather than relaxing its imperial stance sought to make an institution of that ambition by readying itself for a long and cold war. And, in that sense, the “soldier home from the war” is Bishop, too. As she tries ironically to earn her distance from the figure of Pound (she does not “lie” in the house of Bedlam, she only “visits”), Bishop cannot have forgotten what seems to be betrayed by the poem’s progress from objectivity to transfixed sympathy: this “house of Bedlam,” St. Elizabeths, bore her name. That irony is preserved in the poem’s title, [End Page 134] which suggests that “Bedlam” was an institution from which no postwar American poet could safely escape.

Kamran Javadizadeh

Kamran Javadizadeh is Assistant Professor of English at Villanova University, where his research and teaching focus is on twentieth-century American poetry. He is currently completing a manuscript, from which this article is drawn, called “Institutionalized Lyric: American Poetry at Midcentury.”

Notes

This article owes a special debt to the generous reading of Langdon Hammer. I thank him for both his advice and his example. My editors and anonymous reviewers at Modernism/modernity have provided careful and necessary feedback, for which I am most grateful. I’d also like to thank Amy Hungerford and Paul Fry for their attention to this project in its earliest days and my colleagues Heather Hicks, Lisa Sewell, and Megan Quigley for cheering and guiding me to its conclusion.

1. E. Fuller Torrey, The Roots of Treason: Ezra Pound and the Secret of St. Elizabeths (New York: McGraw Hill, 1984), 220.

2. Much earlier in his life, Pound had himself invoked Shelley’s phrase. In a letter to Harriet Monroe, sent from Stone Cottage in January 1915, he had written that “my problem is … to set the arts in their rightful place as the acknowledged guide and lamp of civilization” (The Selected Letters of Ezra Pound: 1907–1941 [New York: New Directions, 1970], 48). My thanks to James Longenbach for pointing me to this letter.

3. It was not until 1986, upon Robert Penn Warren’s second appointment (he first held the position from 1944–45) that the position was officially renamed “poet laureate consultant in poetry.” For the fullest history of the position, see William McGuire, Poetry’s Catbird Seat: The Consultantship in Poetry in the English Language at the Library of Congress, 1937–1987 (Washington, DC: Library of Congress, 1988).

4. The ironies run deeper still. See Carla Yanni, The Architecture of Madness: Insane Asylums in the United States (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2007). She cites the architectural ambitions of Dr. Charles H. Nichols, the first superintendent of St. Elizabeths (originally called the Government Asylum for the Insane Veterans of the Army and Navy and the Residents of the District of Columbia): “When Nichols presented the plans to Congress, he proudly told the senators and representatives: ‘The institution itself will be one of the most conspicuous ornaments of the District, and will be visible to more people, and from more points, than any other structure, excepting perhaps the Capitol, and the Washington Monument when complete.’ Nichols’s enthusiasm notwithstanding, this perception of the capital city does not correspond very well to Pierre L’Enfant’s vision, in which the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the White House formed the three architectural foci of the urban plan, not the Capitol, the Washington Monument, and the lunatic asylum” (68). Thomas U. Walter, the architect of St. Elizabeths, which he had designed in 1852, was more famously the architect of the dome of the Capitol, which was completed in 1865. The fact that the same man was selected to design both the symbol of the seat of legislative power and the nation’s only federal insane asylum suggests the specifically disciplinary function of the latter building, the centrality, as it were, of its function of marginalization and confinement. Pound, if he had been aware of this fact, would doubtless have taken a perverse delight in it; so too might he have appreciated Dr. Nichols’s implication that St. Elizabeths, his house, could be thought to have displaced the White House as the third point in a triangulation of the capital city’s seats of power (see fig. 2). In the most recent confirmation of the site’s historical role in the consolidation of federal power, the west campus of St. Elizabeths, where Pound once resided, has been remade into the new home, to the dismay of preservationists, of the Department of Homeland Security. The east campus, just across Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue, continues to serve as a mental hospital, now run by the District of Columbia. See Joe Holley, “Tussle over St. Elizabeths,” Washington Post, June 17, 2007, C01.

5. Karl Shapiro, Reports of My Death (Chapel Hill: Algonquin Books, 1990), 21.

6. Randall Jarrell, Randall Jarrell’s Letters: An Autobiographical and Literary Selection, ed. Mary Jarrell (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1985), 413.

7. One could arrange to visit Pound by writing to St. Elizabeths and obtaining his permission in advance, apparently not a very difficult thing to do—on an average day, Pound received “at least three or four visitors … and sometimes as many as ten or fifteen” (Torrey, The Roots of Treason, 238–39). [End Page 135]

8. Apparently, Luther Evans, head of the Library of Congress from 1945 to 1953, “suggested to Shapiro that he go out to St. Elizabeths and get Pound to record some of the Cantos, but he felt uncomfortable about doing that” (McGuire, Poetry’s Catbird Seat, 100). Pound’s anti-Semitism might well have made Shapiro feel uncomfortable; however, Lowell, the next consultant, visited Pound often. See Ian Hamilton, Robert Lowell: A Biography (New York: Random House, 1982), 130.

9. Weldon Kees, Weldon Kees and the Midcentury Generation: Letters, 1935–1955 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1986), 132.

10. In that sense, this article ends by anticipating the paradoxical career of a poet like Robert Lowell, whose cultural authority would be confirmed, for instance, by a Harvard appointment just as his aberrant behavior would be regulated by a string of institutionalizations in mental hospitals. Indeed I go on to take up Lowell’s career—and others from this “middle generation”—in the larger project from which this article has been drawn. For an argument with which I feel sympathies both broad and deep, see Jed Rasula, The American Poetry Wax Museum: Reality Effects, 1940–1990 (Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English, 1996). For Rasula, as for me, the incarcerated Pound is a touchstone for much postwar poetry: “Institutionalized and technically relieved of responsibility for his own affairs[,] … Pound is empowered in ways foreclosed to him otherwise. He becomes, in short, the very image of the command-control technocrat operating from within a maximum security module” (120). I focus on the period before the eruption of the well-known Bollingen controversy that Rasula so trenchantly examines (98–122).

11. W. H. Auden, Collected Poems, ed. Edward Mendelson (New York: Vintage, 1991), 248.

12. Charles Norman, ed., “The Case for and against Ezra Pound,” PM, November 25, 1945, m16.

13. The poems, selected by Charles Norman, were “Envoi (1919),” “The Return,” “The Tree,” “The Garret,” “An Immorality,” and “The River-Merchant’s Wife: A Letter.”

14. Pound’s politics opened him up to being represented as a divided mind. In a December 10, 1945, article entitled “Treason,” Time magazine described him as “a motley personality—part despot, part poet, part pressagent.” Below that description, Time ran a photo of Pound with the caption “Poet Pound: He strayed from his field.” This kind of representation of Pound reflects a perhaps old-fashioned impulse to see the “field” of poetry as one that should permeate the identity of the poet and gives rise to the idea that Pound’s troubles are the result of his own fragmented professional identity: “Then, [in] the early ’30s, Ezra Pound abruptly stepped out of his field.” The article’s next heading is “Fascismo” (22). Five days later, Henry Seidel Canby published an editorial in the Saturday Review of Literature stating that “as a poet, he deserves death. But Pound the man, when he was not a verse-maker, Pound of the broadcasts, the prose pamphlets, and private letters, was a muddled and mediocre mind, easily deluded by childish fallacies in government and economics” (10). The position of the Saturday Review, which would subsequently become less charitable, was that it was only as a poet that Pound could be held responsible, the implication being that it was only as a poet that Pound had anything like a coherent, adult identity that could be called to trial. The strange bloodthirstiness of “as a poet, he deserves death” says more about the antagonism between the genteel literary sensibility of the Saturday Review and the more serious, critically approved poetry of Pound and other moderns (this antagonism would return with a vengeance in the Bollingen controversy) than it does about the desire of the Saturday Review to see Pound executed, but the division of Pound’s identity into Pound the aesthete and Pound the citizen allowed one to condemn one and acquit the other, according to one’s predispositions. It was in just these terms that the debate between PM and New Masses played out.

15. Albert Deutsch, “Sanity Trial of Ezra Pound Stirs Up Psychiatric World,” PM, January 28, 1946, 13.

16. William Shakespeare, The Riverside Shakespeare, 2nd ed., ed. G. Blakemore Evans et al. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1997), 1169.

17. Lion Feuchtwanger, Albert Maltz, Eda Lou Walton, Arthur Miller, and Norman Rosten, “Should Ezra Pound Be Shot?,” New Masses, December 25, 1945, 4.

18. Pound’s was not the only radio treason case of the period, as Maltz points out. What remains interesting about the question of medium, though, in Pound’s case in particular, is that it allowed for the manifestation of certain tendencies that had always been latent in his character and that, generally speaking, contributed to what would later be characterized as his particular type of insanity. Charles [End Page 136] Norman remarks that “his way of talking was just as odd as his way of typing. He spoke with many voices. In the midst of expositions in a flat, pedantic, and occasionally scolding tone, he would lapse into exaggerated Western drawls, Yankee twangings, feet-on-the-cracker-barrel pipings, and as suddenly switch to upper-class British sibilants and even Cockney growls.” The fragmentation of Pound’s radio personae is evident in the very first words of his first radio broadcast: “Europe calling. Pound speaking. Ezra Pound speaking” (“The Case for and against Ezra Pound,” 5). Robert A. Corrigan points out, moreover, that the medium of radio particularly lent itself to Pound’s trademark delusional thinking: “Radio brought out in him all the latent egomania his good friends had learned to cope with over the years; with a potential international audience totaling millions, Pound lost all sense of proportion or responsibility” (“Literature and Politics: The Case of Ezra Pound Reconsidered,” Prospects: An Annual of American Cultural Studies 2 [1976]: 467). Daniel Tiffany situates Pound’s radio broadcasts as the culmination of an intellectual history that begins, in some sense, with imagism: “The Image conceived as a ‘radiant’ cadaver becomes the voice of fascism, converted by the medium of radio into the ghost of a lost aesthetic (its political afterlife)” (Radio Corpse: Imagism and the Cryptaesthetic of Ezra Pound [Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1995], 21). Jane Lewty locates radio as a central node in the productive and vexed relationship between Pound and Joyce in her essay “‘What They Had Heard Said Written’: Joyce, Pound, and the Cross-Correspondence of Radio,” in Broadcasting Modernism, ed. Debra Rae Cohen, Michael Coyle, and Jane Lewty (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2009), 199–220. More recently still, Matthew Stark has provided as thorough an accounting as exists of Pound’s radio career in his “Pound and Radio Treason: An Empirical Reassessment,” in Broadcasting in the Modernist Era, ed. Matthew Feldman, Erik Tonning, and Henry Mead (London: Bloomsbury, 2014), 213–44.

19. In some ways, this struggle over the definition of the role of the poet is a familiar matter of literary history. In the previous issue of New Masses, Isidor Schneider, also writing about Pound and the recent symposium in PM, had observed that “the dignity and the responsibility of the artist, for which the best minds of the country have struggled and which was almost won in the thirties, is uneasily yielded here for the immunity of the holy idiot” (“Traitor or Holy Idiot,” New Masses, December 11, 1945, 13). In this context, we can think of the writers in PM as representatives of the high modernism of the post–World War I years and the writers in New Masses as representatives of the Marxist trend of the political literature of the 1930s. At issue, then, was which of those two directions literature would take up in the postwar period. The definitive account of postwar poetry’s political reckoning with modernism is Alan Filreis’s Counter-Revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry, 1945–1960 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008). Filreis devotes several pages to the role played by the incarcerated Pound played in this literary history (179–96), but he, like Rasula, focuses on the Bollingen affair.

20. The image prefigures photographs of Robert Lowell: “[Lowell] always has a tie on, and it is never tied on straight. The camera finds him smoking in his study, or standing in a circle of distinguished literary men (all of them in ties and jackets), but he looks off elsewhere—absently; he is really somewhere else. These images of Lowell manifest the tension between personal rebellion and institutional conformity at the center of his work” (Langdon Hammer, Hart Crane and Allen Tate: Janus-Faced Modernism [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1993], 213–14).

21. The psychiatrists were Dr. Wendell Muncie, associate professor of psychiatry at Johns Hopkins (and the sole member of the committee retained by the defense), Dr. Marion R. King, medical director of the United States Public Health Service and of the Bureau of Prisons, Dr. Joseph L. Gilbert, chief psychiatrist at Gallinger Hospital, and, finally, Dr. Winfred Overholser, superintendent of St. Elizabeths Hospital.

22. Charles Norman, The Case of Ezra Pound (New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1968), 194–95.

23. Elizabeth Bishop Papers, folder 77.4, Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries, Poughkeepsie, NY.

24. Karl Shapiro describes a similar confusion in his memoir: “A Consultant should do something, he thought, such as consulting or being consulted, about poetry, about American poetry. It was very puzzling and there was no secretary to consult or anybody else and he began to panic. Maybe the job wasn’t a job at all, there were no ‘hours,’ he was responsible to no one that he knew of, there was no [End Page 137] superior as in the Army and maybe it was just a Fellowship for writing poems, not necessarily inside his private museum” (Reports, 16).

25. In a letter that she wrote to Pearl Kazin in her first days on the job, Bishop remarked that “Washington doesn’t quite seem real. All those piles of granite and marble, like an inflated copy of another capital city someplace else (the Forum?). Even the Lincoln Memorial, which I went to see, affected me that way” (Elizabeth Bishop, One Art, ed. Robert Giroux [New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1994], 194).

26. Shapiro wrote in his letter to Tate: “The fact is I am looking for a job and have only the most elementary idea how to go about it. If you come upon anyone in your travels who can put an unemployed poet to work, I hope you will mention me. I want the kind of job that has some connection with poetry and will allow me time to write” (McGuire, Poetry’s Catbird Seat, 98).

27. Whether or not Shapiro had this in mind and whether or not the job he coveted all along was the consultantship is not clear. In Shapiro’s memoir, in fact, it is Tate who approaches Shapiro with the proposal: “There was a Southern Poet of a practical turn of mind [Tate] who was visiting one of the nearby Twenties people for the weekend and who asked the poet [Shapiro] about next year. Where was he going next year? Would he be interested in becoming the poetry consultant at the Library of Congress? It could be arranged” (Reports, 7–8).

28. One point of Shapiro’s third person narrative is to transform his personal experiences into general or emblematic descriptions of the situation of “the postwar poet,” as in many ways they were.

29. The parade of important young poets through the office of the consultant pointedly did not include, for instance, Allen Ginsberg, whom Evans would surely have understood as “Communist,” “cocksucker,” and “Jew.” We might think of Ginsberg’s self-described madness and marginalization, thematized in Howl and elsewhere, as to some extent constituted by those overlapping identities, all of which were deemed undesirable or even pathological in postwar America. The first requirement of the job, then, according to the view represented by Evans, was sanity—making it all the more remarkable, incidentally, that Lowell managed to get the job.

30. For a related argument, see Andrew S. Gross, “Liberalism and Lyricism, or Karl Shapiro’s Elegy for Identity,” Journal of Modern Literature 34, no. 3 (2011): 1–30. Gross contends that “Shapiro … traverses the trajectory of the liberal aesthetic”—from the privileging of individuality to the somewhat later privileging of identity politics—“in reverse” (3). Gross, I feel, is illuminating on the complexity of Shapiro’s relationship to postwar liberalism, but I think that by beginning with Shapiro’s contribution to the 1945 PM symposium on Pound rather than with the Bollingen controversy, I am able to show that Shapiro’s inconsistent investments in postwar liberalism coexist more synchronically than Gross allows.

31. For the most thorough account of Hillyer’s role in the Bollingen controversy, see Karen Leick, “Ezra Pound v. The Saturday Review of Literature,” Journal of Modern Literature 25, no. 2 (2001–2): 19–37.

32. Robert Hillyer, “Poetry’s New Priesthood,” Saturday Review of Literature, June 18, 1949, 7.

33. Karl Shapiro, “The Question of the Pound Award,” Partisan Review 16, no. 5 (1949): 518.

34. Shapiro, letter to The Baltimore Sun, February 25, 1949, quoted by Hillyer in “Poetry’s New Priesthood,” 8.

35. Karl Shapiro, Trial of a Poet (New York: Reynal and Hitchcock, 1947), 25.

36. Lowell’s refusal to serve came in the form of a letter to President Roosevelt, reprinted in Robert Lowell, The Collected Prose, ed. Robert Giroux (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1987), 367–70.

37. Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence Between Elizabeth Bishop and Robert Lowell, ed. Thomas J. Travisano and Saskia Hamilton (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008), 82.

38. For more on Bishop’s fears about giving poetry readings in the years before she became consultant, see her letters of July 1949 to her friend Loren MacIver (One Art, 186–93). For a more wide–ranging account of her career with respect to poetry readings, see Kamran Javadizadeh, “Elizabeth Bishop’s Closet Drama,” Arizona Quarterly 67, no. 3 (2011): 119–50.

39. Bishop would often, during this year, alternate weeks in Washington with weekends at the Maryland farm of Jane Dewey, and it was from the relative refuge she found there that much of the [End Page 138] year’s poetry seems to have come. The farm acted as a scene of retirement, not unlike her room in Yaddo, or, much more dramatically, her seventeen years in Brazil.

40. Elizabeth Bishop, The Complete Poems: 1927–1979 (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984), 69.

41. Deborah Nelson, Pursuing Privacy in Cold War America (New York: Columbia University Press, 2002), 13.

42. Gary Fountain and Peter Brazeau, eds., Remembering Elizabeth Bishop: An Oral Biography (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1994), 110.

43. On the topic of Bishop’s leftist sympathies (especially as they relate to midcentury magazine politics), see James Longenbach, Modern Poetry after Modernism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997), 35–48, Kamran Javadizadeh, ed., “‘An Audience May Be Found’: Letters to T. C. Wilson,” Yale Review 93, no. 4 (2005): 20–50, and, most recently, Zachariah Pickard’s “The Morality of Aesthetic Action: Elizabeth Bishop, Randall Jarrell, and the Politics of Poetry,” American Literature 79, no. 2 (2007): 393–411.

44. For a sustained reading of this and other Bishop poems from the period that resituates them historically, see Camille Roman, Elizabeth Bishop’s World War II—Cold War View (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001).

45. Elizabeth Bishop Papers, folder 77.4, Special Collections, Vassar College Libraries, Poughkeepsie, NY.

46. Brett C. Millier, Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1993), 221–22.

47. Eustace C. Mullins, This Difficult Individual, Ezra Pound (New York: Fleet, 1961), 299.

48. For a further account of the origins and textual history of “Visits to St. Elizabeths,” see Francesco Rognoni’s “‘A World of Books Gone Flat’: Elizabeth Bishop’s Visits to St. Elizabeths,” in Elizabeth Bishop in the 21st Century: Reading the New Editions, ed. Angus Cleghorn, Bethany Hicock, and Thomas Travisano (Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2012), 170–85.

49. See Yanni’s account of the early history of St. Elizabeths (The Architecture of Madness, 68). [End Page 139]