Advice to a young poet:

Let the poet who has been not too long ago born make very sure of this, that no one cares to hear, in strained iambics, that he feels sprightly in spring, is uncomfortable when his sexual desires are ungratified, and that he has read about human brotherhood in last year’s magazines.

It’s a rum job, in other words.

On the contrary, the young poet must show promise to as few as a dozen readers of producing “some entanglement of words so subtle, so crafty that they can be read or heard without yawning” after reading Pindar or Keats.  If he does so, he will find friendship “where he had little expected it” and will experience “delightful things . . . suddenly and with no other explanation.”

This was the prescription offered by Ezra Pound in 1911, in I Gather the Limbs of Osiris.

I like especially that telling about brotherhood as written up in last year’s magazines.  Finding thirty or twelve readers fits Pound’s idea of what’s worth doing.  He pursued it all his life and became the guiding light of an era.

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