Monday, March 31, 2014

Hilda Doolittle

This is an excerpt from H.D.'s 1921 poetry book Hymen. I love the progression through the three stanzas, the odd fixation on spotless white gets more and more eerie, especially against the smell of myrtle and the background of the crocuses, which are light pale purple. 

But of herWe can say that she is fair.We bleached the fillet,Brought the myrtle;To us the task was setOf knotting the fine threads of silk:We fastened the veil,And over the white footDrew on the painted shoeSteeped in Illyrian crocus.[11]
But of her,Who can say if she is fair?For her head is covered overWith her mantleWhite on white,Snow on whiter amaranth,Snow on hoar-frost,Snow on snow,Snow on whitest buds of myrrh.
But of her,We can say that she is fair;For we know underneathAll the wanness,All the heat(In her blanched face)Of desireIs caught in her eyes as fireIn the dark center leafOf the white Syrian iris.

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