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Letters & Essays: P-R

Letters & Essays of the Day

Apparent

By Beth Nguyen

When my son Henry was a year old I took him to Boston to meet my mother. She didn’t show up. It turned out that she had gone to Foxwoods Casino instead, which sounds bad and maybe was, but it had been three years since I’d seen her or even spoken to her; we wouldn’t see each other for seven more. I couldn’t blame her for trying her luck elsewhere.

The Paris Review Sketchbook

By George Plimpton

The Paris Review Eagle, or “the bird” as it was referred to, was designed by William Pène du Bois, the magazine’s art editor, in the spring of 1952. The symbolism is not difficult: an American eagle is carrying a pen: the French association is denoted by the helmet the bird is wearing—actually a Phrygian hat originally given a slave on his freedom in ancient times and which subsequently became the liberty cap or bonnet rouge worn by the French Revolutionists of the 19th Century. 

A Prison-Letter, An Autobiographical Outline

By Ezra Pound

Entered U.P. Penn at 15 with intention of studying comparative values in literature (poetry) and began doing so unbeknown to the faculty. 1902 enrolled as special student to avoid irrelevant subjects. 1903—5 continued process at Hamilton College under W.P. Shepard, “Schnitz” Brandt and J.D. Ibbotson. 1905—7 P.G. at U. of Penn. Chiefly impressed by lack of correlation between different depts, and lack either of general survey of literature or any coherent interest in literature as such (as distinct for example from philology). 

Canto 72, Confession

By Ezra Pound

Ezra Pound was obsessed with language. Quotations from seventeen languages, from hieroglyphics to the dialect of the Na-Khi tribe of China are scattered through the Cantos. Two cantos were written completely in Italian: numbers 72 and 73. It is not perfect Italian, though Pound had lived in Italy, off and on, for thirty years when he wrote the poems in Rapallo in 1944 toward the end of the war. There are minute errors of syntax and a few slight slips in verbal tone. But Pound’s ear was so keen, the finest of his generation according to Yeats, it was nearly impossible for him to write a line that was not melodic.