By Olivia Terry, Regional History Museum Librarian
This photograph from the Hailey Centennial Project Collection depicts one of Hailey’s most famous early residents, the famed and often controversial poet, Ezra Pound with his mother Isabel. Pound was born on October 30th, 1885 in Hailey while his father, Homer Loomis Pound, worked as a registrar for the General Land Office during the silver mining boom. Shortly after his birth, Isabel, moved herself and eighteen month-old Ezra to New York, leaving Idaho for good. We all know the details of who Ezra would become, but has one ever stopped to consider who his mother Isabel was before she became the famous poet’s mother?
The Community Library’s Jeanne Rodger Lane Center for Regional History has in its Ezra Pound Collection, an original letter from Isabel Pound to her mother Mary Weston dated May 22, 1885. At this time, Isabel would have been 25 years old and about three months pregnant with Ezra, however she makes no mention of her pregnancy. The letter details a short trip her husband Homer, “Mr. Pound” (likely her father-in-law), a “Mr. Forte” and herself, took to visit a mine beyond Deer Creek Hot Springs. She describes the landscape, writing “The drive was delightful and merry, the scenery fine. At one eminence we had a picture before us like Bierstadt’s Rocky Mountains, peak after peak until one could distinguish the outline of the farthest blue distance…”
The most moving part of the letter however, may be the more basic but familiar notes of connection between a daughter and mother that we still recognize today. Isabel’s letter gives an account of the many things going on in her life including a sewing project, the satisfaction of securing the approval from her new father-in-law, and the yellow dog she longed to have. She signs the letter with “Lovingly, Belle.”
One could surmise that despite her cheerful descriptions and obvious awe of the Idaho landscape, Isabel must have felt very homesick and far away from her family in New York. This suspicion is underscored when she moved herself and Ezra back to New York in 1887. Her decision to do so likely changed the course of Ezra Pound’s life forever.