Monday, March 31, 2014

Hilda Doolittle

H.D., aka Hilda Dolittle [1886-1961], was an incredibly great American Imagist poet during the Modernist era at the turn of the century. Her work is classic, very neo-classical like Pound's, but with a sharper focus.

She wrote several books of poetry, which are great, and she wrote an amazing book-long poem on Helen of Troy--if you love ancient Greece and Imagist work, you need to give it a try! Look here to read some of her work online. The long poem is called Helen in Egypt, you can buy it here, and a good large collection of her work can be bought here. Here is a classic piece by her, and another famous one below it:


You are clear,
O rose, cut in rock,
hard as the descent of hail.

I could scrape the colour
from the petal,
like spilt dye from a rock.

If I could break you
I could break a tree.

If I could stir
I could break a tree,
I could break you.
O wind,
rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it sideways.

Fruit can not drop
through this thick air:
fruit can not fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat,
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.


I saw the first pearas it fell—the honey-seeking, golden-banded,the yellow swarmwas not more fleet than I,(spare us from loveliness)and I fell prostratecrying:you have flayed uswith your blossoms,spare us the beautyof fruit-trees.
The honey-seekingpaused not,the air thundered their song,and I alone was prostrate.
O rough-hewngod of the orchard,I bring you an offering—do you, alone unbeautiful,son of the god,spare us from loveliness:
these fallen hazel-nuts,stripped late of their green sheaths,grapes, red-purple,their berriesdripping with wine,pomegranates already broken,and shrunken figsand quinces untouched,I bring you as offering.

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