ABSTRACT

Pound arrived in London with only £3 in his pocket and some copies of A Lume Spento tucked among his belongings. He had no idea how far the £3 would stretch nor how he would make ends meet when it was gone. He went to Miss Withey's boarding-house in Duchess Street where he had stayed in 1906. It was ‘the acme of comfort while it lasted’? but as his money began to run out and nothing came in to replace it he moved to something cheaper and less comfortable at Islington in north London. I think it was this he had in mind when he wrote in The New Age a few years later of boarding-houses with billiard-table but no cushions, of bathrooms advertised to contain h. and c., in which only the cold tap worked, of ‘pink, frilly paper decorations’, odours and unthinkable foods — complete board and lodging for 12s. 6d. a week. When nothing happened to replenish his purse he was forced to visit a local pawnbroker to raise ten shillings and he may also have made a few pence by selling some of his books — for the poet F. S. Flint came across a copy of A Lume Spento in an Islington bookshop many years later. About the only person in England to whom he had any kind of introduction was the contralto Elizabeth Granger Kerr (‘the Scotch champion of young British song-writers’, Pound called her) who lived at 38a Clanricarde Gardens, West London. To her he confessed his plight and was able to borrow a further ten shillings. When finally money arrived from home on 27 September he wrote to his father, ‘Thank Gawd it has come’. He pronounced himself much wiser in the ways of the world and expected he would in future be easier to live with as a result of his experience.