A Günter Grass Manifesto


Ezra Pound is noted, finally, for living the last decade of his life – after his indictment for treasonous, antisemitic broadcasts in support of Mussolini, and his confinement to the asylum of St. Elizabeth’s – in near silence.

“I know nothing at all…. I have even forgotten the name of that Greek philosopher who said that nothing exists, and even if it did exist, it would be unknowable, and if it were knowable, it would be incommunicable.”

“I did not enter into silence, silence captured me.”

Ezra Pound

Germany was rocked by the revelations last night that Günter Grass, its greatest living author and doyen of the Left, was a member of Hitler’s elite Waffen-SS.


“It was weighing on my mind. My silence over all these years is one of the reasons why I decided to write this book.”

The Telegraph, 2006

“But why have I stayed silent until now?”

Günter Grass, “What Must Be Said,” 2012

Yet you know the politics are false because the poetry is dreck.
The poetry is dreck because the art is political.
The art is political because dreck is false.
There is no false poetry, only dull metrics and words that lie.

The masquerade as art is one form of political lie.
Political art is one form of masquerade,
which costumes arrangements of thought
over the loose bones and dried flesh of people
only people in poetry.
It is not art because it elevates phrase to conscience.
It is not a poem because it stops

Why did he “stay silent for so long”?
But which is the silence of which he speaks?
And silence broken, silence no longer silence,
in agony of silence, is a crucible evaded,
broken in words that break all understanding.

“What must be said” is nothing,
The only forgiveness is in knowledge.
The end of knowledge is in silence.
Silence is poetry.


Notes for Canto CXX
(Pound’s last)

I have tried to write Paradise

Do not move
Let the wind speak
that is paradise.

Let the Gods forgive what I
have made
Let those I love try to forgive
what I have made.



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