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Eliot, Pound and modern Poetry | Letters: Professor David Moody and Ann Monroe


In his celebration of the young TS Eliot (Review, 10 January), Robert Crawford writes at length about the modernity and the notable achievement of The Love Song of J Alfred Prufrock, but mentions only casually Eliot’s making friends with Ezra Pound. Perhaps he is not aware that Pound was the first to recognise the modernity and the achievement of Prufrock, and that he did this on first meeting Eliot in September 1914; that he overcame the resistance of the editor to get that poem published in Poetry (Chicago) in June 1915; that he printed all the poems Eliot had ready for publication in his Catholic Anthology in November 1915, for “the satisfaction of getting Eliot’s poems into print between covers”; and that he subsidised the publication of Eliot’s first slim volume, Prufrock and Other Observations, in 1917, then generously reviewed it. Later, of course, he edited Eliot’s drafts into the acclaimed The Waste Land. Altogether, young Eliot’s debt to young Ezra Pound seems worthy of note.
A David Moody
Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire

• Robert Crawford describes the first publication of Prufrock in 1915 as being “tucked away towards the back of a small magazine, probably because the editor did not greatly care for it”. Poetry magazine was indeed small (it had been founded, on a shoestring, only three years earlier). It’s also true that its founder and editor, Harriet Monroe, was befuddled by Prufrock and had to be pushed by Ezra Pound (a world-class nagger) into publishing it. But Poetry quickly became, and remained for decades, the major outlet for modern poetry in English, giving early exposure not just to Pound and Eliot but to Robert Frost, Edna St Vincent Millay, HD, Marianne Moore, Langston Hughes and many others. And now, of course, thanks to a $200m bequest from Ruth Lilly (who had submitted several poems to the magazine and apparently greatly appreciated the then editor’s courtesy in handwriting the rejection letters himself), the shoestring has become a cornucopia. I think the article should at least have given the magazine its name. Although, perhaps, I am biased; Harriet Monroe was my great-aunt.
Ann Monroe
Totnes, Devon

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