H. D., also known as Hilda Doolittle (1886 Pennsylvania – 1961 Switzerland), probably has one of the longest bio’s on the Poetry Foundation site I have ever seen!
I’m currently reading Square Haunting: Five Women, Freedom and London Between the Wars by Francesca Wade. Hilda is one of the five women. I had never heard of her before. The premise of the book is how one square in Bloomsbury, London housed five influential, famous female writers during turning points in their careers and lives.
For H. D. that time was 1916 – 1918. She had fled the US and the austere home of her parents, in search of freedom and independence and the opportunity to live the bohemian life of which she dreamed. Her two years in Bloomsbury, living at number 44 Mecklenburgh Square were obviously difficult times…and the chapter is nowhere near done!
This poem is from her 1916 collection, entitled Sea Garden.
According to the Poetry Foundation bio,
While the urban world of London gave H.D. the freedom to write, the natural world of Sea Garden was rooted in her mother’s garden, the fields and woods of Upper Darby, and the shorelines of Maine, New Jersey, and Rhode Island.
fluted with gold,
fruit on the sand
marked with a rich grain,
spilled near the shrub-pines
to bleach on the boulders:
your stalk has caught root
among wet pebbles
and drift flung by the sea
and grated shells
and split conch-shells.
fire upon leaf,
what meadow yields
so fragrant a leaf
as your bright leaf?
H.D.’s ability to concentrate language, construct a musical line, and project intensity through the crystalline image gave poetic flesh to imagist doctrine. But she did not write poetry to fit the theory, nor did she contribute in print to the doctrinal debates about Imagism. It is probably more accurate to say that imagist doctrine was developed to describe the poetry she wrote.
This post is part of A Poem For a Thursday with Jennifer @Holds Upon Happiness.