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Last Updated: Friday, 13 August, 2004, 17:16 GMT 18:16 UK
Faces of the week
Faces of the Week

Our regular look at some of the faces which have made the news this week. Above are EZRA POUND, with GABRIELLE, SYLVIE GUILLEM, PHILIP LARKIN and FAY WRAY.


The American poet, Ezra Pound, is generally acknowledged as the godfather of literary modernism, but English Heritage's new blue plaque at the London house where he once lived will be met with disgust in some quarters.

The Board of Deputies of British Jews said it hoped the unveiling wasn't an endorsement of the "anti-Semitic and highly-offensive views which pervaded Pound's poetry".

Pound died in Venice in 1972 at the age of 87. Many felt that he was lucky to live that long, and that he should have been hanged for his treason during World War II.

He lived in London from 1909 to 1914, publishing slim collections of poetry that attracted praise for their originality and erudition.

He came to dominate the avant-garde movements of the time, which sought to break free from the conventional constraints of post-Victorian verse.

Pound's daughter Mary de Rachewiltz at the unveiling ceremony
Pound's daughter Mary de Rachewiltz at the unveiling ceremony
He encouraged and promoted the work of WB Yeats, James Joyce, Ernest Hemingway and DH Lawrence and, soon after moving to Paris in 1920, played a crucial role in a poem by a sickly London bank clerk.

TS Eliot's poem about post-war disillusionment was cut by nearly half by Pound, who cajoled its author into rewriting other parts. The result, The Waste Land, was perhaps the greatest poem of the 20th Century.

By now, Pound had also produced two of his own major works, Homage to Sextus Propertius and Hugh Selwyn Mauberly.

After moving to Italy in 1924 with his mistress, Olga Rudge, an American violinist, he continued to work on his mammoth opus, The Cantos. And, together with Rudge, he played a significant role in the rediscovery of the Italian composer, Vivaldi.

But Ezra Loomis Pound was also developing ideas about politics that were to leave an indelible stain on his legacy.


From 1941 to 1943, in broadcasts for the Italian government, he sang the praises of Mussolini and Hitler, while denigrating the Allied powers.

His main theme was invariably anti-Semitic: "That Jew in the White House... the kike and the unmitigated evil... the United States has been invaded by vermin."

Such treason led to the execution by the British of William Joyce, otherwise known as Lord Haw-Haw, and many felt Ezra Pound should have met the same fate.

Hemingway took a different view: "He deserves punishment and disgrace but what he really deserves most is ridicule.

"It is impossible to believe that anyone in his right mind could utter the vile, absolutely idiotic drivel he has broadcast."

He deserves punishment and disgrace but what he really deserves most is ridicule
Ernest Hemingway on Pound
Nevertheless, interned in a camp for army criminals, Pound managed to write his award-winning Pisan Canto, regarded by many critics as one of his finest achievements.

Back in the United States, though, Pound was declared unfit to stand trial.

He was confined for nearly 13 years in Washington's chief psychiatric institution, St Elizabeth's Hospital, where he entertained Stephen Spender and other visitors, acquiring two more mistresses among them.

Throughout those years, his wife, Dorothy, the mother of his son, dutifully lived nearby. But after Pound was released in 1958, it was with Olga, with whom he had a daughter, that he spent his remaining years in Venice.

James Joyce said it would be hard to find a 20th Century poet who could truthfully say "my work would be exactly the same if Mr Pound had never lived."

Ezra Pound himself, who greeted his release from custody with a Fascist salute and blamed his bad press on papers such as the "Jew Pork Times", reflected toward the end of his life: "I have tried to write paradise. Let those whom I love forgive what I have written."

Gabrielle: Obsessive-compulsive disorder

Singer Gabrielle revealed that her career was nearly destroyed by the shock of seeing her former lover jailed for murder. Suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder, she refused to drink fluids when away from her own home because of a bizarre fear of going to the toilet. Taking in so little water meant her vocal chords dehydrated to the point where she was in danger of losing her voice.

Injured : Sylvie Guillem

Thousands of ballet-lovers were dismayed when the Royal Opera's star ballerina, Sylvie Guillem, was forced to cancel an entire season of romantic productions, Stories of Love and Passion, because of injury. The 39-year-old French dancer, described by critics as "divine", had been hoping for a miraculous recovery from a strained tendon. But Guillem was warned she must rest for several weeks.

Philip Larkin: New poem discovered

An unpublished poem by Philip Larkin was discovered languishing at Hull University, where he worked as a librarian for 30 years. The poem, And Yet, was probably written when he was a young man living in a bedsit in Leicester. It was composed in 1948, amid the devastating impact of the death of his father that gave rise to Larkin's famous 12-line elegy, An April Sunday Brings the Snow.

Monkey Business: Fay Wray

The Queen of Scream, Fay Wray, died at the age of 96, in Manhattan, not far from the scene of the immortal moment at the Empire State Building when she was clutched in the giant paw of King Kong in the 1933 classic. The Canadian-born actress found it a hard act to follow, but never resented "the tallest, darkest leading man" that ensured her place in Hollywood history.

Compiled by BBC News Profiles Unit's Chris Jones.


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