whirl your pointed pines

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):


By H.D.

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.


No, no! Go from me.

I think part of Pound’s lack of attraction to me is that so much of his art is about art. Even A Virginal, which I find very appealing, is apparently about the State of Poetry (ie crappy-pre-Ezra-poetry vs yay-Ezra’s-here-now-poetry-is-saved poetry). As I recall, I had a similar beef with Shelley.

Art meant to be about art hurts my brain, what can I say. Would that be at the root of my issues with language poetry and flarf and such-like?    

I know, I’m such a Philistine.

oh, I have picked up magic in her nearness

“… at a particular date in a particular room, two authors… decided that the dilutation of vers libre, Amygism, Lee Masterism, general floppiness had gone too far and that some countercurrent must be set going.”

— Ezra Pound

How exhausting reading about Ezra Pound and all he believed that everyone should do and all his setting about making known what he thought everyone should do and his trying to make them do it.  I think of Kant’s categorical imperative, which asks you to decide to pursue or not any contemplated action only after imagining the universal effect of the whole world acting as you do in that situation. Don’t pick the wildflowers, therefore, because if everyone did, there would be no wildflowers for anyone to enjoy. Fair enough.


Because isn’t it true, at the same time, that we can all *absolutely rely* on different people reacting to the same situation in different ways, and that even hypothesizing that everyone might react in the exact same way in any given situation is just plain silly? And that what keeps us going and growing and just plain moving along is the very fact that we do all react in different ways to any given situation?

Too many people confuse announcing what they are doing because they think it’s right with announcing their conviction that everyone else should be doing the same thing. And trying to make them do it.

Just too many people.

And we now return to our regularly-scheduled programming…

‘polyphonic prose’

The Taxi

When I go away from you
The world beats dead
Like a slackened drum.
I call out for you against the jutted stars
And shout into the ridges of the wind.
Streets coming fast,
One after the other,
Wedge you away from me,
And the lamps of the city prick my eyes
So that I can no longer see your face.
Why should I leave you,
To wound myself upon the sharp edges of the night?

Amy Lowell

You tell me that the peonies need spraying,
That the columbines have overrun all bounds,
That the pyrus japonica should be cut back and rounded.
You tell me these things.
But I look at you, heart of silver,
White heart-flame of polished silver,
Burning beneath the blue steeples of the larkspur.
And I long to kneel instantly at your feet,
While all about us peal the loud, sweet Te Deums of the Canterbury bells.

from Madonna of the Evening Flowers, Amy Lowell

I am Minerva, the village poetess

Hooted at, jeered at by the Yahoos of the street
For my heavy body, cock-eye, and rolling walk,
And all the more when “Butch” Weldy
Captured me after a brutal hunt.
He left me to my fate with Doctor Meyers;
And I sank into death, growing numb from the feet up,
Like one stepping deeper and deeper into a stream of ice.
Will some one go to the village newspaper,
And gather into a book the verses I wrote?–
I thirsted so for love
I hungered so for life!

— Edgar Lee Masters, Spoon River Anthology (Minerva Jones)

If, like me, you’ve never read Edgar Lee Master’s Spoon River Anthology, here’s a good place to get a taste of it.

Very handy digital version – lets you cross-refer in several different ways, including links to those who talk about and are talked about by the character whose poem you are reading.

Digital content does have its advantages, doesn’t it?