The Classical World of H. D

The Classical World of H. D

The Classical World of H. D

The Classical World of H. D

Excerpt

IN WRITING THIS STUDY MY MAIN PURPOSE IS TO DEscribe H. D.'s use of classical material--to show where she has made literal use of borrowings from the Greeks and Romans and where her classical models have been transmuted into something uniquely her own, reflecting her deeply sensitive and reclusive modern temperament. My secondary aim is to remedy the critical misconception that in her work H. D. has achieved a narrow, marmoreal perfection, faultless in form but devoid of vitality. It is true that images of ice and snow abound in her world, and that sometimes (as in Hedylus ) they threaten to extinguish the last human fires. But her more successful creations are animated by, and radiate, an icy fervor which, like dry ice, burns as it seems to chill. And though she may choose to cloak herself in strange disguises--goddesses, enchantresses, even young warriors--she can only in part conceal her painful vulnerability to the beauty which Elinor Wylie described as having "the hard heart of a child," the beauty which is all the more dangerous when embodied in human form.

My findings will, I think, support this general conclusion: although in her work H. D. escapes from the present into the world of classical antiquity, that world is not her final refuge. Even among the columns and olive groves of Athens and Sparta she is not content; she . . .

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