Documentary Editing, Association for


Date of this Version


Document Type



Documentary Editing, Volume 21, Number 3, September 1999.

ISSN 2476-1796 (electronic); ISSN 2167-1451 (print)


1999 © the Association for Documentary Editing. Used by permission.


I mention this personal encounter because in this volume of letters from Pound to Olivia Rossetti Agresti, mostly written from St. Elizabeths, there is not a single mention of the. conditions under which he was living. He had been confined to the hospital in January 1946 after being adjudged by psychiatrists "eccentric, querulous, and egocentric," and unfit to stand trial for treason as a consequence of broadcasting over Rome radio during the war. For a year, he was housed in a barred cell in the criminal ward, then released to a general ward, and finally, toward the end of his imprisonment in 1958 allowed a pnvate room and the freedom of the hospital garden.

Pound endured this incarceration with a stoicism and serenity little short of miraculous. He was allowed access to writing materials and books and, later on, unlimited visitors, and he maintained a voluminous correspondence. His visits were like impromptu seminars or, more often, monologues, during which he kept up a ceaseless flow of ideas and homilies.