Collected Poems, 1912-1944

Collected Poems, 1912-1944

Collected Poems, 1912-1944

Collected Poems, 1912-1944

Synopsis

The Collected Poems 1912-1944 of H. D. brings together all the shorter poems and poetical sequences of Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961) written before 1945. Divided into four parts, this landmark volume, now available as a New Directions Paperbook, includes the complete Collected Poems of 1925 and Red Roses for Bronze (1931). Of special significance are the “Uncollected and Unpublished Poems (1912-1944),” the third section of the book, written mainly in the 1930s, during H. D.’s supposed “fallow” period. As these pages reveal, she was in fact writing a great deal of important poetry at the time, although publishing only a small part of it. The later, wartime poems in this section form an essential prologue to her magnificent Trilogy (1944), the fourth and culminating part of this book. Born in Pennsylvania in 1886, Hilda Doolittle moved to London in 1911 in the footsteps of her friend and one-time fiancé Ezra Pound. Indeed it was Pound, acting as the London scout for Poetry magazine, who helped her begin her extraordinary career, penning the words “H. D., Imagiste” to a group of six poems and sending them on to editor Harriet Monroe in Chicago. The Collected Poems 1912-1944 traces the continual expansion of H. D.’s work from her early imagistic mode to the prophetic style of her “hidden” years in the 1930s, climaxing in the broader, mature accomplishment of Trilogy. The book is edited by Professor Louis L. Martz of Yale, who supplies valuable textual notes and an introductory essay that relates the significance of H. D.’s life to her equally remarkable literary achievement.

Excerpt

"I believe in women doing what they like," says Mrs. Carter in H. D. Bid Me to Live. "I believe in the modern woman." But then the author adds: "In 1913, the 'modern woman' had no special place on the map, and to be 'modern' in Mrs. Carter's sense, after 1914, required some very specific handling. 'I believe in intelligent women having experience' was then a very, very thin line to toe, a very, very frail wire to do a tight-rope act on." For Hilda Doolittle, born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, in 1886 and reared in her mother's strict Moravian tradition, the move to London in 1911 and life in the circles of Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, and D.H. Lawrence offered her the modern experience, along that very thin line, that very frail wire.

Her situation, as it developed, became very close to the role of Astrid that she played in the movie Borderline, made by Kenneth Macpherson in 1930. As H.D. explains in a pamphlet that she wrote about the movie, Astrid and her lover Thorne have come to a "borderline town of some indefinite mid-European mountain district . . . because of some specific nerve-problem, perhaps to rest, perhaps to recuperate, perhaps to economise, perhaps simply in hope of some emotional convalescence. They live as such people do the world over, in just such little social borderline rooms as just such couples seek in Devonshire, in Cornwall . . ." --places that H.D. knows well. "They are borderline social cases, not out of life, not in life . . . Astrid, the white- cerebral is and is not outcast, is and is not a social alien, is and is not a normal human being, she is borderline."

Her poetry and her prose, like her own psyche, live at the seething junction of opposite forces. Whoever conceived the original jacket design for Bid Me to Live realized the central truth about her work; for the jacket displays the active, shifting scene where land and ocean meet. This junction is the setting for many of her earliest poems: "Sea Rose," "Sea Poppies," "Sea Violet," "Sea Gods," "Sea Iris"--these poems scattered throughout her first book, Sea Garden (1916), are only the most obvious examples of the basic theme of the entire volume: the "beauty" that results from the fierce clashing of natural forces, as in "Sea Poppies":

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