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H. D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)

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Questions for Discussion and Writing

The NAAL selections of H. D.'s work show us a poet whose range of interests and voices extends considerably beyond her usual categorization as an "Imagist." Though some of her early poems may seem generically within that mode, the expansion and sophistication of her voice and subject matter after World War I show us an individual talent leaving behind a school of poetry and going in its own direction.

1. Mid-day (1916) is a poem laden with interesting verbs; the first three stanzas of Fragment 113 (1922) have almost no verbs at all. How do you account for this difference, in these two poems, with regard to language?

2. When H. D. turns to classical subjects, metaphors, and motifs, what seem to be her intentions? Look carefully at Helen (1924) and at stanzas 1-3 of The Walls Do Not Fall (1944) in developing an answer to this question. Why does the poet move away from classical allusions later in this poem?

3. Describe H. D. as a nature poet. In what spirit does she regard the natural world? With Transcendentalist spirituality? With a skepticism like Stevens's or with a mingled response reminiscent of Dickinson? Refer to specific moments in these poems when answering this question.