On the morning of 2 May 1945, Ezra Pound walked down the hill of Sant'Ambrogio into the seaside town of Rapallo, Italy, intending (as biographer Humphrey Carpenter tells it) “to go and identify himself” to “the American forces who were setting up military headquarters in one of the waterfront hotels.” He told the soldiers that he wanted “to give information to the State Department.” Before he made that walk he must have wondered whether he would come to harm (he was, after all, under indictment for treason), or whether indeed his attempt to cooperate—to help his country—might be appreciated; perhaps, rather than forcible custody, he might actually meet gratitude. What happened to him that morning was, however, something he likely did not anticipate—something that might well stand as emblematic of his lifelong relation with the public. There was no one on the scene who had any idea who he was. No one there had the slightest clue as to why the U.S. government should be interested in him. Eventually, Pound returned to the home that wartime constraints had compelled him to share with both his mistress, Olga Rudge, and his wife, Dorothy. It was only on the next day, when two antifascist partisans pounded on his door with the butt of a tommy gun and marched him back down to the American headquarters, that Pound's painful, thirteen-year incarceration was to begin in earnest.Less
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