H.D. for Poetry Friday

I have been fond of imagist poet H.D. (Hilda Doolittle, 1886-1961) ever since I ended up at the same college (Bryn Mawr) as she did, was very taken by her picture, and decided on reading some of her poems that our minds worked much the same way (in the way that one does, when one is young and at college. I am now pretty sure our minds don't, although I still like her poetry).

What I did not know, until today, wandering around on line hoping to be inspired for Poetry Friday, is that H.D. also wrote children's stories, before committing herself to poetry. Two of them are available on line, here. I think she made the right choice. Here's one of my favorite poems:

Sheltered Garden, from Sea Garden (1916)

I have had enough.
I gasp for breath.

Every way ends, every road,
every foot-path leads at last
to the hill-crest --
then you retrace your steps,
or find the same slope on the other side,

I have had enough --
border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,
herbs, sweet-cress.

O for some sharp swish of a branch --
there is no scent of resin
in this place,
no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,
aromatic, astringent--
only border on border of scented pinks.

Have you seen fruit under cover
that wanted light --
pears wadded in cloth,
protected from the frost,
melons, almost ripe,
smothered in straw?

Why not let the pears cling
to the empty branch?
All your coaxing will only make
a bitter fruit --
let them cling, ripen of themselves,
test their own worth,
nipped, shrivelled by the frost,
to fall at last but fair
with a russet coat.

Or the melon --
let it bleach yellow
in the winter light,
even tart to the taste --
it is better to taste of frost --
the exquisite frost --
than of wadding and of dead grass.

For this beauty,
beauty without strength,
chokes out life.
I want wind to break,
scatter these pink-stalks,
snap off their spiced heads,
fling them about with dead leaves --
spread the paths with twigs,
limbs broken off,
trail great pine branches,
hurled from some far wood
right across the melon-patch,
break pear and quince --
leave half-trees, torn, twisted
but showing the fight was valiant.

O to blot out this garden
to forget, to find a new beauty
in some terrible
wind-tortured place.

- H.D.

Poetry Friday is at Mentor Texts today!

P.S. The internet is truly amazing. I did not know that H.D. stared in a movie with Paul Robeson in 1930 (courtesy of Wikipedia)


  1. That is really beautiful. Wow.

    And I love your opening. I used to think that my mind and the mind of my favorite singer/songwriter/musician MUST work exactly the same, too, and then . . . well, you get older and realize how preposterous that is.

    Thanks for this. Hear hear to beauty plus strength.

    Jules, 7-Imp

  2. How funny - I'm in with HD as well, and I came THIS close to picking Sheltered Garden too! I also did the same double take on Wiki. Such easy little clicks for so much information.

    cheers / sheila

  3. Wow!! This really is a first for me. And PAUL ROBESON!? Again: wow.

  4. I love that last stanza about a wind-blown place.

    Thanks for the dose of H.D.

  5. "wandering around on line hoping to be inspired for Poetry Friday"

    That's my favorite part about PF! Except, of course, for the times when I am inspired and ready days ahead...which are few and far between!


Free Blog Counter

Button styles