Midnight Notes on the Poet H. D.

Portrait of H. D., courtesy the Poetry Foundation (poetryfoundation.org)When we think of the poet H. D. (born Hilda Doolittle) we see her as through a prism, or perhaps more fittingly as the subject of a cubist portrait. She is fragmentary--a series of planes that don't quite make a whole but which carry undeniable significance. She is poet, imagiste, proto-feminist, scholar, and expatriate modernist who always remains removed from the other more familiar names, yet forever connected (and I think wrongly subsidiary) to the megalomaniacal Ezra Pound,

Even her chosen pseudonym serves to obscure her identity.

I find that because of the tangle of meanings that she represents, I am able to encounter her work without the historical/biographical baggage I inevitably bring to, say, Eliot or Pound. Her words are words--not psychological artifacts or heirlooms or bits of a legacy. They are spare and quiet, but as an ocean is quiet. Their sound is almost an absence of sound. In it there is great power and depth and an intimation of a profound anger that could swallow one whole.

Collected poems, 1912-1944 / Louis L. Martz, ed.Cover Art: Between History and Poetry: The Letters of H. D. and Norman Holmes Pearson
H. D. and Poets After / Donna Krolik Hollenberg, ed. [electronic resource]
Selected Poems / Louis L. Martz, ed.
The Islands / H. D.

As always, comments, rebuttals and suggestions for future posts are welcome. Thanks for reading.