Come, blunt your spear with us,
our pace is hot
and our bare heels
in the heel-prints–
we stand tense–do you see–
are you already beaten
by the chase?
We lead the pace
for the wind on the hills,
the low hill is spattered
with loose earth–
our feet cut into the crust
as with spears.
We climbed the ploughed land,
dragged the seed from the clefts,
broke the clods with our heels,
whirled with a parched cry
into the woods:
Can you come,
can you come,
can you follow the hound trail,
can you trample the hot froth?
Spring up–sway forward–
follow the quickest one,
aye, though you leave the trail
and drop exhausted at our feet.
After seeing a performance as a young girl of Uncle Tom`s Cabin, H.D. asked her mother………..“Can ladies write books?”
H.D. was born in Pennsylvania in 1886, but decamped to London in 1911 where her work carved out a central role for her in the emerging Imagism movement; always helped by the first love of her life Ezra Pound who promoted and pushed her career onto a steep upward curve. Intellectually and artistically intoxicated by her visit to London and Paris, she returned to the United States for visits only four or five times before her death. Through Pound she came into contact with the wide circle of artists who became her friends and personal community; she rubbed shoulders with Richard Aldington, Yeats, Eliot, F.S. Flint, John Gould Fletcher, Ford Maddox Hueffer, Violet Hunt, May Sinclair, Wyndham Lewis, George Plank and many, many others. Who`s outlook on life wouldn`t be expanded and enriched by intimate contact with such people? She established herself as Queen of the short lived ( 1913-1917) Imagist movement which had been launched in the tea shop of the British Museum. At this time, it seemed that “movements” of one kind or another were being kick-started all over Europe.
Although some writers have speculated that Pound created the Imagist movement to specifically promote H.D.`s poems, it was a genuine cabal of like minded artists held together by a loose consensus of personal ties and principles amongst whom H.D. was the quintessential imagist and master craftsman:
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.
H.D. had an uncanny ability to concentrate language into a crystalline image that put flesh upon the thought, no doubt a reflection of a woman who disregarded her clothes to go rambling through fields and walking headlong into dangerous crashing breakers and appearing “entranced” as the brutal waves knocked her flat into unconsciousness. She was as free thinking in her sexuality as she was in her poetry, going as far as to befriend Sigmund Freud in the 1930`s, becoming his patient in order to get a better handle on her bisexuality, over which she was completely open and unapologetic; although she married, she joyously undertook a number of heterosexual and lesbian relationships, thus becoming yet another icon for both the gay rights and feminist movements when her poems, plays and essays were rediscovered during the 1970`s and 1980`s.
For H.D. there were no artistic, emotional or sexual boundaries to hinder her way of writing, living or loving; and thanks to her recent artistic re-emergence, she has once more been restored to a significant position in the history of literature where she belongs.
H.D. 10th September 1886 – 27th September 1961.