The Play

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

As the ninety-minute, one-act Ezra opens, Ezra Pound paces the six-by-six-foot gorilla cage in which American troops have imprisoned him. It is May, 1945, somewhere between Pisa and Viareggio. Under arrest for treason, narrating his own situation, the poet moves from self-pity to a joke about Walt Disney; Ezra then sings a song from the Disney film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) just as his pants fall down. He soon stops mourning the confiscation of his belt and shoelaces as he conjures up visions of two men he admires, composer Antonio Vivaldi and dictator Benito Mussolini. The former dances with Ezra to “Primavera,” the spring section of Vivaldi’s The Four Seasons (1725). The latter enters belting “Funiculi Funicula.”

Both try to cheer him with amusing badinage. “I’m the dead one, remember?” quips Il Duce, who then introduces himself to Vivaldi, joining him in singing a bit of “Me and My Shadow.” Mussolini’s mistress, Clara, appears long enough to scold these leaders—“Men will be boys”—but shifts in the demented Ezra’s mind to his own mistress, Olga. Before she is displaced among Ezra’s apparitions by his wife, Dorothy, Mussolini and Vivaldi exchange such barbed remarks as the dictator’s thrust, “Never trust a composer. A decomposer now, eh!” and the musician’s parry, “Italy had a future in the past.”

Ezra’s free association prompts his connection of his wife Dorothy’s entrance to “the yellow brick road.” Moments later, a voice-over of one of his pro-fascist radio broadcasts segues into a prison guard ordering the women to leave and then Ezra’s fantasy of the two women living together, united by their desire to protect his books and reputation.

As the action jumps backward and...

(The entire section is 738 words.)