Ripostes of Ezra Pound is a collection of 25 poems by the American poet Ezra Pound, submitted to Swift and Co. in London in February 1912, and published by them in October that year. This version of the books is the historic 1912 edition.
Ripostes is the first collection in which Pound moves toward the economy of language and clarity of imagery of the Imagism movement, and was the first time he used the word "Imagiste." Of its 25 poems, "Salve Pontifex" had appeared in A Lume Spento, and eight others had appeared in magazines. The book includes Pound's interpretation of the Old English poem, "The Seafarer".
Ezra Weston Loomis Pound (30 October 1885 – 1 November 1972) was an American expatriate poet, critic and a major figure of the early modernist movement. His contribution to poetry began with his promotion of Imagism, a movement that derived its technique from classical Chinese and Japanese poetry, stressing clarity, precision and economy of language. His best-known works include Ripostes (1912), Hugh Selwyn Mauberley (1920), and his unfinished 120-section epic, The Cantos (1917–1969).
Working in London in the early 20th century as foreign editor of several American literary magazines, Pound helped to discover and shape the work of contemporaries such as T. S. Eliot, James Joyce, Robert Frost, and Ernest Hemingway. He was responsible for the publication in 1915 of Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," and for the serialization from 1918 of Joyce's Ulysses. Hemingway wrote of him in 1925: "He defends [his friends] when they are attacked, he gets them into magazines and out of jail. ... He writes articles about them. He introduces them to wealthy women. He gets publishers to take their books. He sits up all night with them when they claim to be dying ... he advances them hospital expenses and dissuades them from suicide."
Outraged by the loss of life during the First World War, he lost faith in England, blaming the war on usury and international capitalism. He moved to Italy in 1924 where throughout the 1930s and 1940s, to his friends' dismay, he embraced Benito Mussolini's fascism, expressed support for Adolf Hitler, and wrote for publications owned by the British fascist Oswald Mosley. The Italian government paid him during the Second World War to make hundreds of radio broadcasts criticizing the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and in particular Jews—broadcasts that were monitored by the U.S. government—as a result of which he was arrested for treason by American forces in Italy in 1945. He spent months in detention in a U.S. military camp in Pisa, including 25 days in a six-by-six-foot outdoor steel cage that he said triggered a mental breakdown: "when the raft broke and the waters went over me." Deemed unfit to stand trial, a decision disputed for decades after his death, he was incarcerated in St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., for over 12 years. While in custody in Italy he had begun work on sections of The Cantos that became known as The Pisan Cantos (1948).
Pound's friends continued to try to get him out. Shortly after Hemingway won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1954, he told Time magazine that "this would be a good year to release poets." MacLeish asked him in June 1957 to write a letter on Pound's behalf; Hemingway believed Pound was unable to abstain from awkward political statements, but he signed a letter of support anyway, and pledged $1,500 to be given to Pound when he was released. In 1957 several publications began campaigning for his release. Le Figaro published an appeal entitled "The Lunatic at St Elizabeths." The New Republic, Esquire and The Nation followed suit; The Nation argued that Pound was a sick and vicious old man, but that he had rights too. In 1958 MacLeish hired Thurman Arnold, a prestigious lawyer who ended up charging no fee, to file a motion to dismiss the 1945 indictment and Pound was freed.