Posts Tagged ‘H. D.’

Playlist for Omeros

Friday, March 15th, 2013
Playlist for Omeros, Derek Walcott – feat. St. Lucian folk music!
Beginning with….
Sons and Daughters of Saint Lucia (St. Lucian National Anthem) (Adopted in 1967, words by Charles Jesse, composed by Leton Felix Thomas. Also, here:
Sons and daughters of Saint Lucia,love the land that gave us birth,land of beaches, hills and valleys,fairest isle of all the earth.Wheresoever you may roam,love, oh, love our island home.
Gone the times when nations battledfor this ‘Helen of the West’,gone the days when strife and discordDimmed her children’s toil and rest.Dawns at last a brighter day,stretches out a glad new way.
May the good Lord bless our island,guard her sons from woe and harm!May our people live united,strong in soul and strong in arm!Justice, Truth and Charity,our ideal for ever be!
Ronald “Boo” Hinkson, “Dance The Hall” (This is St. Lucia’s leading guitar man when it comes to rhythm and blues, jazz, some calypso, etc. St. Lucia today is well-known for it’s internationally acclaimed, annual Jazz Festival. Props to a friend for the knowledge! Helen would probably like this groove, don’t you think?)
Herb Black, “Calypso Jail” (Herb Black! St. Lucia’s triple crown Calypso Monarch – the nearby islands of Trinidad and Tobago have a competition annually called, the Calypso Monarch (Wikipedia told me this). For those of you that don’t know, Calypso is a style of music that originated in TnT from French and African influences.)
Soca Remix by DJ Extreme (oh my god) (Soca is a style of music that also originated in Trinidad and Tobago – and now to Wikipedia because that’s all I know. AH, okay: Calypso lilt, with some French Antilles heavy-on-the-cadences, with Indian musical instruments. Woah. So, check out this remix! It isn’t super obnoxious, it’s just super long, but just click to a random place until you like a melody and hang out around there and take a listen. It’s definitely fun and energetic!)
Folk Music, in the style of Jwé (This style of music is associated with parties, wakes, any social gathering, really. Wikipedia says that it indicates a social mood – people should talk to each other, be friendly.)
Top Things Saint Lucians Say Video (This is just amusing :P)
If I find anything else, I’ll try and add it on! I’m jamming to some Soca right now… and reading for this class. Haha 🙂

Sarah’s Critical Article Review

Monday, March 4th, 2013

Albert Gelpi’s article entitled “Two Ways of Spelling it Out: An Archetypal-Feminist Reading of H.D.’s Trilogy and Adrienne Rich’s Sources” examines both long poems under the framework of the Jungian concepts of animus and anima. Gelpi argues that in both poems “the animus leads to and unlocks the secret of […] womanhood” (7) although the approaches of either poet differ.

Gelpi first provides a brief explanation of Jungian animus and anima. Animus he describes as a feminine understanding of the qualities within herself that are masculine for example “: reason, will, control, order” (2). Gelpi points out that feminist issues with this dualism are indeed “relevant” (2) but that he understands the animus and the anima as “psychological factors” as opposed to “metaphysical absolutes”  and seeks to use them as a means “to change patriarchal values and structures”(2).

Gelpi then proceeds to present the examples of the animus at work in H.D.’s Trilogy. He points out H.D.’s “invocation […] of male figures from Greek and Egyptian mythology, Judaism, and Christianity” (3) and how in her response to these figures she breaks out of the “shell” she inhabits in the beginning of the fourth lyric in “The Walls Do Not Fall”. According to Gelpi, the call for Hermes/Thoth/Mercury to help her in the battle against critics of her “scribbling”(4) is indicative of H.D.’s recognition and use of the animus to further her own development as a poet. In “Tribute to the Angels” Gelpi points out that the images of Hermes and the like begin to bleed into “references to[…] Aphrodite, and[…]Mary” (7) and that this is the section of the poem where there is “an amazing revelation of the archetypal feminine” (7). He cites the use of the archangels as the build up to this revelation. Gelpi quotes the lines “‘I had been thinking of Gabriel, /…how could I imagine/the Lady herself would come instead?’” and the points to the following reference to Michael (“‘regent of the planet Mercury’” and therefore another representative of Hermes) as evidence of the role of the animus in the poet’s eventual emergence as the “virgin scribe”(8). In “The Flowering of the Rod” Gelpi identifies the “rod” as “Hermes’ caduceus, and Christ’s cross or rood” and allows that the final section of the poem is the revelation of the “full feminine archetype” by the “virgin scribe”(9).

The following section outlines Adrienne Rich’s use of the animus in her poetry, namely her long poem Sources. Gelpi points out that while the two poets had similar backgrounds Rich’s approach to the role of the animus is far more “conflicted”(17) than that of H.D. and does not include  mythical elements but rather focuses on “time and place” (10). Gelpi examples how Rich’s poems indicate that she views “intelligence and verbal mastery as masculine qualities” (13) and this proves that her “animus-figure represents her capacity as a poet” (14). He notes that in the third and forth sections of Sources Rich’s voice seems to echo that of her father’s and that she not only does what he says (becomes a successful poet) but also attempts to use her position as a poet “‘to change the laws of history.’” (16).

Gelpi’s examination of the animus in H.D.’s Trilogy and Rich’s Sources provides an insightful consideration into the other side, so to speak, of the usual feminist reading of these poems. The animus since it is the way in which a woman has been raised or enculturated to understand the so-called masculine qualities within herself must be pivotal in the development of her personality because, whether the feminists like it or not, both women and men are necessary for the development life. Gelpi’s mentions of parthenogenesis and autogenesis two concepts centered around a sort of asexual reproduction of self leads to some interesting questions about how one should consider the development of an individual. Many would argue that individuals have the tendency and the right to define themselves in relation to or juxtapose to those who surround them. H.D. certainly gives importance to the role the male deity in Trilogy and Rich points to the conflict between herself and patriarchal figures as important as “sources” in Sources. On the other hand, especially in the case of H.D., there is great significance and power within the individual because each individual has the ability to understand the essence of deity whether it be feminine or masculine. Gelpi’s assertion of the importance of the role of animus in the development of the ultimate feminine archetype takes the idea of the importance of the self (a typically male concern) and places it alongside the importance of the whole/group (a trait typically assigned to the feminine). Gelpi’s argument leads to the eventual conclusion that it is the development and perseverance of both that shape an individual’s personality.








Katie’s Critical Summary 1: H.D.

Saturday, March 2nd, 2013

In her article, “Falling Walls: Trauma and Testimony in H.D.’s Trilogy,” Sarah Graham provides and argument that H.D.’s Trilogy is a combination of both H.D.’s need to discuss the war, as well as her need to repress the horrific nature of war. Graham uses trauma therapy as a model in which to depict H.D. as a trauma survivor, therefore rendering her a traumatized poet. She proposes that throughout H.D.’s career the effects of trauma produce what she has deemed “a poetics of indirection: a range of prosodic strategies that communicate the pain, fear and anguish generated by war” (299).

Although H.D. is a non-combatant, the extensive psychological effects the war has on her is shown through her frontline-like language, allowing her poetry to be a celebration over the chaos of war, as well as the power of creativity over destruction (304). Graham’s initial inspection of the poem asserts that because H.D. was a non-combatant, as well as a woman, the societal understanding of war effects up to that point had typically encompassed just males. She interestingly points out that although “shell shock” was solely a male experience from war, it is incredibly similar to the female experience Freud deemed as “hysteria.” Trauma theory confirms that H.D. would need to ‘own’ (possess control over) her difficult wartime (and/or childhood) experiences in order to escape their debilitating effect upon her” (306).

In Trilogy, she refers often to the Bible, allowing the reader insight into her war-torn perspective. Graham asserts that, “the speaker in ‘Tribute to the Angels’ says, ‘I John saw. I testify,’ overtly alluding to John’s role as witness in the Bible’s ‘Book of Revelations’ and positioning herself in a comparable role. What is key here is that John and H.D.’s speaker both see and testify: they witness and then communicatewhat they have seen” (308). H.D. using the Bible as assistance allows her to speak with company, responsibility, and honesty. Two factors Graham believes may have assisted H.D. in the writing/testifying of her poetry are the societal changes in attitude in terms of war, and her work with Freud. Both of these factors are of such importance because the change in attitude allowed everyone, not just men to feel the effects of war because it was experienced on all fronts. This goes hand in hand with Freud’s psychoanalysis and gender study of H.D. because the profound effect the war had on her exceeded the understanding of the time. Graham also focuses on H.D. as a marginalized writer of the time, stating, “H.D. was aware of her marginal status as woman and writer… and that the cultural center overtly denied the legitimacy of her voice and refuted her right to discuss war” (305).

In the second section of Graham’s argument, she delves deeper into H.D.’s time with Freud and the war, as well as H.D.’s trip to Egypt with Bryher. These experiences laid the groundwork of much of Trilogy. The ruins seen throughout the poem can be directly related to either war or Egypt, as the two women’s trip had a profound effect on H.D, as well as the war had, so the parallel between the two experiences is strong. Graham states that “such associations suggest that in Trilogy fallen walls represent, not only the traumatized city, but also the traumatizedsubject. Indeed, for H.D. the new war was characterized by falling walls: livingthrough the Blitz on London, she was subjected to ‘crashes, bangs, the roar ofcollapsing buildings, and the non-stop anti-aircraft gunfire night after night’” (312). The relationship between archeology and walls are important in Trilogy, as the metaphor of fallen walls suggests not just the traumatized city, but fallen subject, but also represent survival.

A life lived in a warzones allowed H.D. to make real life connections and she often related the war torn home to the end of days in the Bible. Graham acknowledges that although Trilogy contains stable language and perspective, the actual structure of the poem is not intensely structured, making the control simply an illusion, but allowing the reader feel the chaos of war. This is important because of control H.D. cannot exercise over the war, or her feelings about it. She also uses strong language of the body, such as the physical body, body as a city/place, or body of knowledge. H.D.’s important control over her poetics of war allowed her to exercise power over the one thing she could control, which was poetry. Although H.D. was never cured of her war shock, her poetry allowed insight into her horrified world.


Graham, Sarah. “Falling Walls: Trauma and Testimony in H.D.’s Trilogy.” The Journal of the English Association., 2007. 299-319. Ebscohost. Web. 28 Feb. 2013.

Jen’s Critical Article Summary 1

Friday, March 1st, 2013

In her article “‘We have a secret. We are alive’: H.D.’s Trilogy as a Response to War,” Sarah H.S. Graham argues for a reading of H.D.’s poem as a byproduct of the First and Second World Wars. She focuses heavily on H.D.’s struggle with her role as a “war-poet,” performing close readings of her language and analyzing shifts in tone throughout the three sections of Trilogy. While Graham acknowledges the importance of the critical lenses of gender and psychoanalysis, she asserts that “an approach to Trilogy that keeps the war center-stage at all times” is not “undeserving of sustained attention” (162). While her article teems with analysis of H.D’s response to war, Graham’s argument can be boiled down to her “two principal reasons to read Trilogy as ‘war-poetry’”: first, because it strives to find order and meaning amidst the conflict of World War II, and second, because of H.D.’s failure to escape the paralyzing effects of World War I. Although I initially objected to her strictly historical lens, I began to see how Graham connects the war with H.D.’s internal struggle to respond to it, showing how a time of war inexorably questions the notions of religion, gender, and art.

In the first part of her article, Graham focuses on “The Walls Do Not Fall” as a “reflection of H.D’s own anxieties and, by extension, a reflection of her war time trauma” (173). In the opening of her poem, H.D. seems particularly concerned with the cycle of violence in London. Graham points out how “barriers that do not actually fall, like the rails, are taken in the drive to make more weapons, which in turn make more walls fall…” (165). This cycle of violence will be a recurring theme for Graham, as existing loss and destruction from World War I are further intensified in World War II. However, something H.D. struggles with in particular is why she and other survivors have been spared throughout this cycle of violence, questioning, “what saved us? what for?” (4). In other words, H.D. struggles with a sense of purpose, especially in her role as a poet in the midst of a time when art is being destroyed. Graham argues that “Trilogy itself becomes the answer to those two questions that close the first section of ‘The Walls Do Not Fall,’” as H.D. has survived in order to comment on present and past events and essentially preserve them for future generations (170). For our class, this idea specifically relates to the idea of palimpsest and the importance of this device in preserving history, culture, and art. Due to the pervasive destructiveness of war, rewriting the past into the present is crucial, not only for the preservation of the past, but to offer new insights as to the meaning of the present.

Although “The Walls Do Not Fall” abounds with images of violence and feelings of chaos, Graham asserts that H.D. uses “Tribute to the Angels” as a poem about “the hope of peace” (180). The first section of Trilogy is primarily concerned with what H.D. witnesses throughout the Blitz rages in London. However, in the first lines of her second section, H.D. moves from this idea of witnessing on to introducing the poet’s art as a kind of alchemy, or act of creating. As we have discussed in class, I believe H.D. begins to realize that as a poet she has the power to use language to influence history and, as Graham puts it, “make something happen” (189). H.D. rewrites many of the “Truths” offered in the Bible and insists that “the Lady” in her vision has “none of her usual attributes;/ the Child was not with her” (97). Graham points out that the fact that the woman carries “the blank pages of the unwritten volume of the new” suggests that poets and readers alike have the power to reject the “stable texts of the past” and rewrite our present. Thus, although peace has not yet arrived by the spring of 1944, I believe that H.D., through the very act of writing “Tribute to the Angels,” becomes “the Lady” with power to use language to introduce a new spirit of “not-war.”

While she refers to the second part of Trilogy as a peace poem, Graham descirbes “The Flowering of the Rod” as a poem of “war-weariness and depression, ”noting that H.D. loses and rejects her previous “willingness to speak openly about the meaning and consequences of the war” (195). Instead, she turns to something beyond the war—resurrection and spiritual transcendence. Although Graham argues that this rebirth and transcendence is the poet’s and not for all of humanity, “suggesting a shift of focus from the collective good to the self,” I believe that H.D. engages her readers and invites us to participate in her revisionist history of the war—one in which we “leave pity/ and mount higher/ to love…” (114). Thus, H.D.’s extensive revision of preconceived notions of religion and gender in her tale of Kasper and Mary Magdalene may be an elaborate effort to offer her readers a sense of hope that they do not have to accept violence and war as the “Truth” of their time—they have the power to assert their own identity and write a revisionist history that “leaves the smoldering cities below” and transcends to a greater place of peace and spiritual harmony (114).

What Happened in Class Today?!

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

I know I missed! I’m very sad that I did. I have read Heidi’s bridge to the blog and am about to comment on it, too. But please, people, tell me what we talked about!! I want to know!

Bridge to the Blog: H. D.’s “Sustained Crystal-Gazing Stare”

Thursday, February 28th, 2013


H. D.Near the end of our discussion on H.D.’s Trilogy in class today, we touched briefly on the subject of her psychic gift— she believed that she had visionary powers. As I mentioned, there is a reference to this in an article from the Moravian Church Archives— it was published in their September 2011 newsletter, marking the 5oth anniversary of her death and the 125th anniversary of her birth. (I’ve added a pdf file of the article to this blog’s media library, in case you have trouble opening the previous link. You can find it here— Moravian Church Archives) As Dr. Scanlon mentioned, H. D. had a vision while visiting Corfu with Bryher. I was able to find an article online entitled, The Concept of Projection: H.D.’s Visionary Powers, written by Adelaide Morris. (You can read the article for free here at JSTOR.) According to Morris, H.D. describes (in her book, Tribute to Freud) the images she saw one late afternoon as taking shape on the wall of her hotel room, between the foot of the bed and the washstand— a head in profile, a chalice, a ladder, an angel named Victory… all appearing in an arrangement of hieroglyphs projected from her mind, through her eyes, to the wall in a “sustained crystal-gazing stare.”
Morris writes:

Because the vision rides on will, she must not flag: “if I let go,” she thinks, “lessen the intensity of my stare and shut my eyes or even blink my eyes, to rest them, the pictures will fade out” (TF, p. 49). When, however, she drops her head in her hands, exhausted, the process continues and Bryher, who has until  now seen nothing, witnesses the final image. What she sees… is so consistent with the preceding figures that H. D. compares it to “that ‘determinative’ that is used in the actual hieroglyphic, the picture that contains the whole series of pictures in itself or helps clarify or explain them” (TF, p. 56). With the power of the poet or prophet, H. D. has not only materialized the images in her psyche but cast them onto the consciousness of another and released her audience’s own visionary capacities.

Morris also notes that the word projection frequently appears in H. D.’s writing. Projection: the act of throwing or shooting forward… the thrust that bridges two worlds…. And that definition builds a bridge to the Friedman article we discussed today, especially with regard to the idea of inside/outside in long poems— in Trilogy, H. D. projects her inside world to the wall… to the outside world, for us to interpret.

I checked out a copy of The Gift at the library today, which I hope to read over break— maybe it will give me some further insight to H. D.’s inside. She wrote The Gift during the war, before Trilogy— this work of prose is thought to have helped generate her long poem.

Enjoy your Spring Break!


Alison’s Critical Summary 1: H.D.

Thursday, February 28th, 2013

In “Embracing the Liminal Space: H.D.’s Androgynous Language in Trilogy,” Jenn Wolford Watson draws attention to the importance of the mingling of femininity and masculinity, both in H.D.’s manipulation of language and in her referencing of gods and goddesses. Watson asserts, that by combining both male and female characteristics in her work, H.D. was trying to establish a sense of harmony and regeneration. Watson believes that H.D. created that harmony using different techniques within her writing.

Since H.D. associated war with hegemonic masculinity, she would “invoke the goddess figure as a symbol of rebirth to offset the discord” (248-249). However, H.D. believed that male deities could also play a role in regeneration, and therefore, created a fluid gap between the two sexes. This fluidity is shown through the multiplicity of H.D.’s language. She includes both feminist and masculinist writing in her work. Luce Irigaray, another writer Watson referenced, says that the masculine way of writing revolves around “the fixity of words with a single reading,” (249) while the feminine style is where authors, and readers, practice the weaving of words in order to avoid that fixity. This is something we have discussed in class, in that we’ve already found a few examples where readers can find multiple ways to read one phrase by changing the meaning of a word.

Watson illustrates this point first by looking towards another article written by Lisa Rado. Rado states that H.D. “represents the over-mind, or transcendental imagination, in terms of a confrontation between ratified male and female elements” (249). Watson agrees, and states that because of this union, H.D. is able to achieve a fluidity of language between masculine and feminine. Watson further illustrates the point of manipulating language when she draws attention to the fact that in The Walls Do Not Fall, H.D. references anagrams and cryptograms. He asserts that this shows H.D.’s willingness to allow words to take on singular and plural meanings. By referencing cryptograms, Watson believes H.D. was referring to the power words can have to unlock even deeper meaning than what is on the surface. Watson also references one of H.D.’s other works, Tribute to Freud, in which H.D. says that the language she uses can “break bounds,” which Watson takes as a reference to the binaries constructed around ideas of masculinity and femininity.

H.D. plays with this fluidity within Trilogy as she draws attention to, and connections between, various gods and goddesses. Watson first draws attention to the pairing of Osiris and Sirius. Osiris was the Egyptian lord of creation and fertility. These are traits that link him to birth, and therefore also link him to femininity. He was also resurrected by Isis, giving an introduction to the idea of resurrection, while also tying together the importance of both genders to the preservation of life. Sirius is connected to Osiris in that the Sirius star was the one aligned with the resurrection of Osiris. These multiple branches and connections create a fluidity between gods and goddesses.

The other pairing Watson draws attention to is that between the Virgin Mary and Hermes. Of course the first connection readers would make to Mary is mother of God, but she is also tied to the concept of rebirth. Her name is also connected to Hermes Trismegitus, because he connects his powers of alchemy to her name. H.D. also connects Mary with Venus, who is also used to invoke images of new life. Watson notes, that Hermes was also linked to fertility and rebirth. Furthermore, in Tribute to the Angels, in the sequence starting with “mer” and ending with “Mary,” there is another link made between Hermes and Mary. Within this section, Hermes is connected to bitterness, which is then connected to the sea. Therefore, through this chain, both Hermes and Mary get tied to the sea. The word “mother” is also of great importance in this section. Watson writes that this “demonstration of how words are linked and may expand and contract in their connections reflects the liminal space between the masculine and feminine bond” (252).

In addition to the importance of fluidity, Watson also notes the importance of combining masculine and feminine language in order to promote harmony in the days of World War II. H.D.’s “elastic language” is used to expand and contract in order to  “connect all humanity in a state of tranquility” (253). Watson draws attention to this idea of masculine and feminine language in reference to the section of The Walls Do Not Fall where H.D. discusses the power of word and poetry compared to the sword and war. Watson states, “H.D.’s fluid poetics gives life as it demonstrates the unity she seeks in its androgynous characteristics” (253). Watson also suggests that H.D.’s use of language is a way to “embrace all things” and provide “a sense of closeness and intimacy”(253). H.D’s dismantling of gander binaries is her way of showing she wishes to do the same between countries at war. She wants all to find that connection to rebirth and resurrection. Similarly, as we’ve discussed in class, Trilogy seems to be an evolution of H.D. embracing her world and welcoming peace.

I initially chose this article because the abstract mentioned the importance of the different deities within this work, which was a topic that had interested me in class. I think this article was a good introduction to re-examining the grouping of these figures to see what deeper meaning there could have been in H.D.’s choices of whom to include in Trilogy. I also thought the examining of masculine and feminine information was an interesting new take on subjects we’ve already spent some time discussing in class, such as homonyms.


“H. D. (1886-1961).” Poetry Criticism. Ed. Michelle Lee. Vol. 127. Detroit: Gale, Cengage Learning, 2012. 93-265. Literature Criticism Online. Gale. University of Mary Washington. 25 February 2013


If you’d like to find the original article/source, here’s the original:

Watson, Jenn Wolford. “Embracing the Liminal Space: H.D.’s Androgynous Language in Trilogy.” EAPSU Online: A Journal of Critical and Creative Work. 4(Fall 2007): 119-134


Thursday, February 21st, 2013

our_lady_of_sorrowsFollowing our discussion in class today about the many depictions of Mary, one of my favorites is Our Lady of Seven Sorrows— also, another reference to the number 7. The Seven Sorrows are events in the life of the Blessed Virgin which are popular in Catholic devotional prayers and often depicted in art:
1. The Prophecy of Simeon
2. The Flight into Egypt
3. The Loss of the Child Jesus in the Temple
4. Mary Meets Jesus Carrying the Cross
5. The Crucifixion
6. Mary Receives the Dead Body of Her Son
7. The Burial of Her Son and Closing of the Tomb