Uploaded on Aug 28, 2010
H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) 1886- 1961
"We must be 'in love' before we can understand the mysteries of vision." -H.D. (1)
H. D. thought of her work as a "matrix." A womb, the matrix is a place of form from which something is given birth. In Notes on Thought and Vision, she writes that in her creative life she "swing[s] from normal consciousness to abnormal consciousness." She called the abnormal consciousness the "over-mind" and considered it the state of the poet's sensibility. She believed that memory is the origin of an artistic expression. Describing H. D.'s theory, Janice Robinson says "the moment of artistic creativity is a moment of knowledge; it is also a moment of recovery of a more primal connection to life."(2)ROB 233 She then quotes H. D. from Notes on thought and Vision, "when we are 'born again' we begin not as a child but as the very first germs that grow into a child." (3)ROB 233
Hilda Doolittle was born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania September 10, 1886. Her father was a professor of astronomy. Her mother, Helen (Wolle) was a Moravian and interested in music. She met Ezra Pound in 1901, four years before graduating high school, a seminal figure in her development as a poet and her first love. It was Pound who began calling Hilda H. D.
She attended Bryn Mawr College, and was classmates with Marianne Moore and William Carlos Williams, but she left after three years because of poor grades. She became engaged to Pound in 1908, but her father's objected and the engagement was abandoned. She met and began a relationship with Frances Gregg. In 1910 she traveled to Europe with Frances and Frances' mother. In Europe she began writing seriously. She brought her poems to pound and he encouraged her.
In 1912, along with Richard Addington, the three proclaimed themselves the original Imagists. Taking cues from free verse and haiku, they described the Imagist aesthetic as treating the "thing" directly either subjectively or objectively, and sought to present the poem economically without a single extraneous word.
H.D. Was bisexual and had a number of affairs with men and women. She described her relationship with Freud as being his "pupil," when she consulted with him to explore her bisexuality.
She appears as the lead in the silent film "Borderline," (1930) which explores and interracial affair, prejudice, and madness.(4) IMDB
Later in life H. D.'s writing concerned a feminist perspective on male dominant epic poetry. She drew from her interest in the Greek classics writing Helen in Egypt from inspiration of Euripides's play "Helen."
Though not read widely during her time, H. D. was rediscovered in the 1970's when interest in her work was rekindled by the emergence of feminist criticism.
H.D suffered a stroke in July 1961 and died September 27 of that year.
Text of poems:
(Not available on line) From "The Voice That Is Great Within US, American poetry of the 20th Century ed, Hayden Carruth, Bantam Classic, 1970
Sources & Notes:
Janice S. Robinson, H.D. The Life and Work of an American Poet, Houghton Mifflin, 1982, Boston
Notes: (1) page 231, (2) page 233, (3) page 233
Modern American Poetry: About H.D.'s Life and Career, Bonnie Kime Scott
IMDB: Borderline, 1930 (Note 4)
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