I am irrevocably lazy and yes, the angels never cease weeping for me. I have to write about Hilda Doolittle after Ezra Pound, so what else can I do but reproduce an ancient post from 2006? From my birthday in 2006, to be precise. I find that today I don’t have anything to add to what I wrote about her three years ago, except perhaps to note that she hung out with Marianne Moore & Carlos Williams, as well as unfortunately E.P. And also that the label H.D. Imagiste feels like a big antibiotically-clean sign carved in some announcing crystalline material. Maybe black emerald or crystal jet.
Sept 10, 2006:
Guess who else was born on September 10? Hilda Doolittle. A few years before me, of course. Not a poet one is drawn to, on the face of it. A close associate of Ezra Pound – always a name to make one’s mind begin to think about nipping off quickly to do something else. He called her H.D. Imagiste, it appears. Imagism, I learn this instant, was a movement in early 20th century Anglo-American poetry that favoured precision of imagery, and clear, sharp language. The Imagists rejected the sentiment and artifice typical of much Romantic and Victorian poetry.
I’m sorry I have not known anything of my co-birthdayee before. These two poems by her are really sticking with me today. (The first one is apparently her most-quoted and most-anthologized poem so I must have been buying the wrong anthologies. “Oread” by the way, is the name of a mountain nymph – not a typo and an imperative):
Whirl up, sea—
whirl your pointed pines.
Splash your great pines
on our rocks.
Hurl your green over us,
cover us with your pools of fir.
Stars Wheel in Purple
by H. D.
Stars wheel in purple, yours is not so rare
as Hesperus, nor yet so great a star
as bright Aldeboran or Sirius,
nor yet the stained and brilliant one of War;
stars turn in purple, glorious to the sight;
yours is not gracious as the Pleiads are
nor as Orion’s sapphires, luminous;
yet disenchanted, cold, imperious face,
when all the others blighted, reel and fall,
your star, steel-set, keeps lone and frigid tryst
to freighted ships, baffled in wind and blast.