H. D.: “beauty without strength, chokes out life” (14)

(14th in a series of posts on H.D.)

Finding H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle

The next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Sheltered Garden

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,
precipitate.

 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.

A revolt against the traditional image of femininity.” Sirma Soran Gumpert

“H. D.’s polemic against the wadding that, in the name of protecting (particularly) women from life, chokes life out of them.” Adalaide Kirby Morris

“The need for fearlessness. . . . a courage that fears stagnation and suffocation more than failure itself.”  Maria Stadter Fox

“The poem promotes a renewal of the concept of beauty; beauty ‘without
strength’, she writes, ‘chokes out life’.” Elizabeth O’Connor

The next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehem Area Public Library.

Be there!

One thought on “H. D.: “beauty without strength, chokes out life” (14)

  1. Hi Ed: Yes….this great poem is in the play……..in fact, we have given it a musical setting composed by two of our young artists……Doug

    On Fri, Apr 12, 2019 at 4:24 PM The Bethlehem Gadfly wrote:

    > The Bethlehem Gadfly posted: “(14th in a series of posts on H.D.) Finding > H.D.: A Community Exploration of the Life and Work of Hilda Doolittle The > next event in this year-long series is a panel discussion on “H.D. and the > Natural World,” Tuesday, April 16, 6:30-8:00pm at the Bethlehe” >

    Like

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