8 October (1941): E.E. Cummings to Ezra Pound

E.E. Cummings

Throughout the 1930s and 40s, E.E. Cummings was one of Ezra Pound’s only political confidants. Their correspondence is an unsettling record of their flirtation with, and ultimate embrace of, anti-communism, anti-semitism, and (in Pound’s case, if not also in Cummings’) fascism. 

October 8, 1941, New York

Dear Ezra—

whole,round,and heartiest greetings from the princess & me to our favorite Ikey-Kikey,Wandering Jew,Quo Vadis,Oppressed Minority Of one,Misunderstood Master,Mister Lonelyheart,and Man Without A Country

re whose latest queeries

East Maxman has gone off on a c-nd-m in a pamphlet arguing everybody should support Wussia,for the nonce. “Time” (a loose)mag says Don Josh Bathos of London England told P.E.N. innulluxuls that for the nonce writers shouldn’t be writing. Each collective choisi(pastparticiple,you recall,of choisir)without exception and—may I add—very naturally desires for the nonce nothing but Adolph’s Absolute Annihilation,Coûte Que Coûte(SIC). A man who once became worshipped of one thousand million pubbul by not falling into the ocean while simultaneously peeping through a periscope and sucking drugstore sandwiches is excoriated for,for the nonce, freedom of speech. Perfectly versus the macarchibald maclapdog macleash—one(1)poet,John Peale Bishop,holds a nonce of a USGov’t job;vide ye newe Rockyfeller-sponsored ultrarumpus to boost SA infrarelations. Paragraph and your excoed Billy The Medico made a far from noncelike W.C.of himself (per a puddle of a periodical called “Decision”)relating how his poor pal E.P. = talented etc but ignorant ass who etc can’t play the etc piano etc…over which tour d’argent the wily Scotch duckfuggur Peter Munro Jack 5 Charles Street NYCity waxed so wroth he hurled at me into New Hampshire a nutn if not incandescing wire beginning “stab a man in the back but do it three years too late”:’twould hence appear you’ve still some friends, uncle Ezra,whether vi piace or non

now to descend to the surface;or,concerning oldfashioned i: every whatsoever bully(e.g. all honourless&lazy punks twerps thugs slobs politicos parlourpimps murderers and other reformers)continues impressing me as a trible more isn’t than least can less and the later it’s Itler the sooner hit’s Ess. Tune: The Gutters of Chicago

(“make haste” spake the Lord Of New Dealings
“neutrality’s hard on my feelings”
—they returned from the bank
with the furter in frank:
& the walls;& the floors,&the ceilings)

As my father wrote me when I disgraced Orne*—forsan et haec. And the censor let those six words through

hardy is as hardy does



* Cummings had been confined in a prison in Orne in 1917. The full six words are “forsan et haec olim meminisse juvabit,” which translate to “perhaps this too will be a pleasure to look back on one day.”


At the time of the above letter, Ezra Pound had just begun the rabid, pro-fascist radio broadcasts that lead to his eventual imprisonment. For transcripts of the broadcasts (fair warning: they are extremely disquieting), click here.