Giovanni Raboni

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The Independent Online

G. Singh's reference [obituary, 20 September] to Giovanni Raboni's appreciation of Ezra Pound's "humanism" is best met with the words of another poet, Joseph Brodsky, writes Paul Trewhela.

G. Singh's reference [obituary, 20 September] to Giovanni Raboni's appreciation of Ezra Pound's "humanism" is best met with the words of another poet, Joseph Brodsky, writes Paul Trewhela.

Raboni was too young to have felt the bite of the regime which Pound celebrated in his wartime broadcasts, but Brodsky knew a real prison regime - that of Brezhnev. In his 1992 prose work Watermark, Brodsky discusses Pound, whom as a young man he had translated "quite a bit of" into Russian. "A fair thing to do," Brodsky reflected,

would be to publish both his poems and his speeches in one volume, without any learned

introduction, and see what happens. Of all people, a poet should have known that time knows no distance between Rapallo and Lithuania. I also thought that admitting you've screwed up your life is more manly than persevering in the posture of the persecuted genius . . .

If we're to publish Pound's speeches, why not start with the Rome radio talk on of 30 April 1942, in which he argued not for some "old-style killing of small Jews", but rather "if some man had a stroke of genius, and could start a pogrom at the top".

A humanist, no. Raboni and Professor Singh should have shown more care for words.

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