restricted access “The Use of Poetry.” To the Editor of The New English Weekly
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96 ] “The Use of Poetry” To the Editor of The New English Weekly The New English Weekly, 5 (14 June 1934) 215 Sir, – Now, Mr. Orage,1 Sir, it seems to me the time has come to engross a little more of your space to do some sweeping up after Ezra. One can’t be everywhere at once; and a good deal of litter has accumulated: I will only deal with what concerns me.2 Mr. Pound has done your readers a disservice in suggesting that a book of mine, which is an unsatisfactory attempt to say something worth saying, is more negligible than another book of mine which is an unsatisfactory attempt to say a variety of things most of which were not worth saying.3 There was, however, one notion running through my book on “The Use of Poetry,” something about the development of critical consciousness, which seemed to me interesting; but Mr. Pound has not mentioned it, and I do not propose to discuss it. What Mr. Pound really has to say is this: that my lecture on the Countess of Pembroke (pawky humour) was good enough to include in a new edition of Selected Essays, and that the rest might well be scrapped.4 I wholeheartedly agree. But I cannot help being exacerbated by a critic who takes a great space to condemn an inferior book for the wrong reasons, and who cannot stick to the point, because he refuses to see it. Mr. Pound might have been usefully occupied in saying that I overrated the criticism of Dryden; and that through ignorance, inattention, and haste, I both underrated and misunderstood the criticism of Coleridge. He might have told you, in so many words, that my lecture on Arnold was prejudiced, ill thought out, and wholly superfluous. He might have said that my lecture on “The Modern Mind” was undigested. He might have said that I had spent eight hours in coming to no conclusion. But he has done none of these things. Instead, he wastes time flinging tomatoes at Mr. Richards and Mr. Maritain, whose works I do not suppose he has read; for as he says himself, one cannot read everything. Still, one need not call them “racketeer-aesthetes and theorists.”5 Mr. Pound suggests that “Fabre, Fraser, Frobenius, Fenellosa” mean nothing to me.6 I at least know how to spell Frazer, but beyond that, Fabre and Frazer mean to me two very valuable collectors of facts. Fabre was, so [ 97 “The Use of Poetry” far as I am qualified to judge, a great observer; Frazer a great collator; but neither of them was, so far as I know, and in the sense in which I was using the word mind, a great exemplar of the modern mind. To Fenellosa I am grateful for having provided the material and occasion for Mr. Pound’s Cathay. And Frobenius, to judge by what I have read of his work (Schicksalskunde) is to me an example of the modern “mind” in its most unpleasant form.7 I should like to know what Mr. Pound means by nasty blasphemy.8 I should be still more interested to know what he means by the phrase: “the fall of the church, in its failure to deal with evil when that evil menaces the comfort of its subsidised professors and professional racketeers.” [132] It is interesting to learn that the church fails to deal with evil menacing the comfort of its professors, but the compliment expressed hardly seems to have been intended. Now, Mr. Orage, Sir, I am going to set round the chimbly and have a chaw terbacker with Miss Meadows and the gals; and then I am going away for a 4tnight where that old Rabbit can’t reach me with his letters nor even with his post cards.9 I am, dear Sir, Your outraged, POSSUM10 Notes 1. A. R. Orage founded the NEW in 1932 and edited it until his death in Nov 1934. 2. Pound’s review of The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism, “What Price the Muses Now,” appeared in the NEW of 24 May 1934 (130-32). 3. TSE is here characterizing The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism as “an unsatisfactory attempt to say a variety of things most of which were not worth saying,” while After Strange Gods is represented as “an unsatisfactory attempt to say something worth saying.” On 20 June 1934, TSE wrote to...


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