obituary: Olga Rudge

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The Independent Online
I don't believe that Allen Ginsberg was quite the welcome guest to the Pound / Rudge household that Peter Russell suggests, at least not as far as Olga Rudge was concerned, writes William Blacker [further to the obituary of25 March]. I distinctly remember her telling me how Ginsberg, of whom, she said, neither of them had heard, encamped outside their house near Rapallo with some friends, started to make extraordinary wailing noises (apparently Hare Krishna chants in American accents) and refused to go away until the great poet agreed to see them. In other words, Ezra Pound only saw him in order to get rid of him. It made Rudge angry when people said that Ginsberg had been a friend of Pound's.

After Pound died in 1972, Rudge remained alone in Venice and was a familiar sight there walking slowly through the streets wearing a white hat, white coat, white-rimmed owl-like dark glasses, and using a white umbrella as a walking stick.

I knew her only towards the end of her life. I met her in 1987 when she was 92 (I was 24), but even then, and even when I last saw her when she was 98, she was still full of the extraordinary energy and enthusiasm of which Russell speaks, and usually had a beaming smile on her face.

The first time I met her was at a lecture given in Venice on the last night of the carnival. On leaving everyone told her that she should take the back route home to avoid being knocked over by the noisy, boisterous people singing and dancing in the crowded streets: "But it is precisely the people dancing and singing that I want to see" she replied, and off she went.