"Minute Granules on a White Thread": H.D. and a Masterful Whiteness
Poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) was born in 1886 in Pennsylvania to Charles Leander Doolittle and Helen Wolle Doolittle. Educated at Bryn Mawr, she became close friends with young white poets Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. Her early published poetry ( 1913) compelled the Imagist movement. She continued writing experimental poetry throughout her long life.
H.D. also wrote novels, acted in a film with famed African-American Paul Robeson, and underwent psychoanalysis with Sigmund Freud. She spent most of her adult life in the company of her daughter, Perdita, and her lesbian lover, Bryher, who was a dedicated patron of the arts. H.D. died in Zurich, Switzerland in 1961 of complications resulting from a stroke. H.D.'s poetry composes racially inscribed noise. Wai Chee Dimock characterizes such noise as an "apt analogy" for describing what readers bring to the "hearing" of a text:
Noise includes all those circumstances that complicate readers' relations to a text: circumstances that, filling their heads and ringing in their ears, make them uninnocent readers, who encroach on the text with assumptions, expectations, convictions. Noise includes all those circumstances that so quicken the pulse, so sensitize the interpretive faculties, as to call forth unexpected nuances from words composed long ago. An effect of historical change, noise is a necessary feature of a reader's meaning-making process. (1063)
When twenty-first-century readers read the whiteness in H.D.'s texts, they read hints of racial mastery that were not signified similarly to the