H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)

  • David Seed
Part of the Insights book series (ISI)


In 1913 the first three poems were published by ‘H.D., Imagiste’. Pound had attached his famous label, he explained in a letter of 1927, as a promotional tactic: ‘the name was invented to launch H.D. and Aldington’. 1This statement reads disingenuously because, at the time, Pound’s activities on behalf of Imagism formed part of a sustained programme for encouraging experimentation in poetry, and his ‘cautions’ (as he called them), ‘A Few Don’ts’, articulated a direction which that experimentation might take. Pound’s undoubted energy as a publiciser of new work paid off with a vengeance in the case of H.D. because the label ‘imagiste’ stuck long after it had ceased to be applicable to her poetry. More seriously, Pound’s injunctions about poetic expression (‘the natural object is always the adequate symbol’, ‘go in fear of abstractions’, etc.) privileged a critical vocabulary which centred on the concrete, the actual, and the ‘hard’. 2H.D.’s biographer Barbara Guest, for instance, persists in reading the former’s early poems through Pound’s spectacles. Calling her the ‘finest Imagist’, Guest declares that ‘her poetry of this period is always concrete, never abstract’. 3


Sacred Grove Collective Voice Sexual Guilt Modernist Ideal Poetic Expression 
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Copyright information

© The Editorial Board, Lumiere (Cooperative Press) Ltd 1995

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  • David Seed

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