Elizabeth Bishop & Ezra Pound – A Visit to St. Elizabeth’s

Elizabeth Bishop & Ezra Pound – A Visit to St. Elizabeth’s

Elizabeth Bishop & Ezra Pound – A Visit to St. Elizabeth’s Blog, Poetry
April 16, 2011

“This is the house of Bedlam,”

begins Elizabeth Bishop’s lovely strange poem, “Visits to St. Elizabeths”:

“This is the man / that lies in the house of Bedlam.”

Ezra Pound was a patient at St. Elizabeths psychiatric hospital in Washington, D.C., from 1945-1958.

Here is a partial list of the poets who visited him: John Berryman, Elizabeth Bishop, e.e. cummings, T.S. Eliot, Robert Lowell, Marianne Moore, Charles Olson & William Carlos Williams.


Visiting hours were from 2:00-4:00 PM four days a week, & when the weather was fine he would sit in the garden.

Often the memoirs and recollections of those who visited him mention that he was eating fruit, and that his shirt was loose. He talked about translations, gave rules for poetry.

Perhaps there is nothing more charismatic than a poet in a madhouse.

[Read the Entire article “Ezra Pound, Elizabeth Bishop, and the Madhouse”
originally posted on fsgpoetry.com/]

Take a look at
Elizabeth Bishop’s
poem:

Visits to St. Elizabeths

[1950]

This is the house of Bedlam.

This is the man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the time
of the tragic man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a wristwatch
telling the time
of the talkative man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the honored man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the roadstead all of board
reached by the sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the old, brave man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

These are the years and the walls of the ward,
the winds and clouds of the sea of board
sailed by the sailor
wearing the watch
that tells the time
of the cranky man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
over the creaking sea of board
beyond the sailor
winding his watch
that tells the time
of the cruel man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a world of books gone flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
over the creaking sea of board
of the batty sailor
that winds his watch
that tells the time
of the busy man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is a boy that pats the floor
to see if the world is there, is flat,
for the widowed Jew in the newspaper hat
that dances weeping down the ward
waltzing the length of a weaving board
by the silent sailor
that hears his watch
that ticks the time
of the tedious man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

These are the years and the walls and the door
that shut on a boy that pats the floor
to feel if the world is there and flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances joyfully down the ward
into the parting seas of board
past the staring sailor
that shakes his watch
that tells the time
of the poet, the man
that lies in the house of Bedlam.

This is the soldier home from the war.
These are the years and the walls and the door
that shut on a boy that pats the floor
to see if the world is round or flat.
This is a Jew in a newspaper hat
that dances carefully down the ward,
walking the plank of a coffin board
with the crazy sailor
that shows his watch

humphreyking

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humphreyking

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One Comment

  1. Of the three Stalinist Russia and Hitlers Germany
    and the United States of Amerikkka tell me which one chewed up amd spat out and jailed its poets chess champions and artists.
    Botwinnik the Jew World Champ that meant demi god in Russia or CCCP but means nothing in the US asked Stalin to spare the life of Keres the greatest Estonian chess player who never became a wchamp but he committed the crime of playing chess while Estonia was under German instaed of Russian domination invasion extermination; Stalin did. So Botvinnik still had a rival left.
    The USA hounded to death the greatest American of the 20th Cy a Jew but an antisemite for playing chess in a country where there were hundreds of Yanks at the time
    Yugo
    Bobby Fisher who had to run like a wandering Jew from Hungary Philippines Japan to finally Iceland to escape the clutches of Amerikkkan justice.
    Ezra Pound was a fascist and escaped with his life only because the Jewish literati intervened on his behalf
    but they did the same to him as later the Russkies with anyone who failed to see the redemptive virtue of Marxism Panslav and Pravoslav flavour not to the gallows but to the loony bin you go
    They did this to Ezra Pound despite not being in arrears of his taxes like Robert James Fisher and the Chicago gangster king. Al Capone I couldnt recall the name I recall only Greek poets and Estonian chessplayers not Amerikkkan gangsters politicians nor financiers or serial murderers.
    Writing poetry and playing chess counts as a greater crime in the US than machinegunning people.

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