Mary Barnard presented her initial education in a small Western town in the early days of the twentieth century as a preparation for the beginning of her real education: the initiation of her correspondence with Ezra Pound. Pound’s famous “Ezuversity,” a college of letters (literally) sent and received by Pound, had no specific guidelines for its applicants. Barnard demonstrates in the first part of her memoir (as she demonstrated to Pound with her letters) that she was qualified by both temperament and training. Pound’s fascination with language finds an analogue in Barnard’s recollections that she was “constantly looking, feeling, registering, trying—always trying to find words that would capture something of the experience.” She describes an almost visceral urge to complete unfinished quatrains in a song book and her excitement when she found a copy of The Art of Versification, which explained the basic rules of scansion, indicating a near-religious response to linguistic and syntactic order that approximates Pound’s devotion to metrics. In accordance with Pound’s dictum in ABC of Reading (1934) that poetry loses vitality when it is removed from song, she recalls her delight at the sound of spoken Greek when she heard a classics professor reciting at Reed College, lifting literature from the page into living breath, confirming her nascent belief that the reality of literature was as significant as any other version of real...
(The entire section is 1662 words.)
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