(17th in a series of posts on H.D.)
We continue to learn about H. D. — Hilda Doolittle — this Bethlehem-born writer (1886-1961), the “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure,” as the plaque at the entrance announces to our library patrons.
The next event in the “Finding H. D.” series is a lecture entitled “H.D. and Emily Dickinson: Bisexual Women Poets Who Made History.”
Let’s get real serious.
The “Lehigh Valley’s most important literary figure” is a bisexual woman.
Now Gadfly’s pretty sure that his straight followers are not the kind of people who blanch at the word “bisexual,” who would not want to be seen entering an LGBT Community Center, or who would turn to stone sitting next to a bisexual person on an airplane flight.
But if you are straight and of a certain age, as they say, as Gadfly certainly is (older than television), you might not be able to avoid a vaguely odd feeling.
And maybe at any age, you cannot avoid the inclination when you approach bisexual artists to view them through a bisexual lens, to expect to find bisexualness. Whatever that is.
But look at H. D.’s “Evening” again, the beautiful haunting poem Gadfly posted for your afternoon break yesterday.
Anything “bisexual” there?
I don’t know that much about H. D. I’m learning.
But I have read and taught Emily Dickinson for many years.
It is said that when you die, someone comes to meet you. I hope for me it is Emily Dickinson.
Emily Dickinson, the bisexual woman poet who made history.
There was recently a death in Gadfly’s near-family. Gadfly was there. Gadfly has now been at bedside for four deaths. He’s a real veteran of mortality events. A person to duck when you are sick.
Nobody captures the death-bed “narrow time” feeling (Dear God, how will we squeeze through this?) better than E. D.:
The last Night that She lived
It was a Common Night
Except the Dying—this to Us
Made Nature different
We noticed smallest things—
Things overlooked before
By this great light upon our Minds
As We went out and in
Between Her final Room
And Rooms where Those to be alive
Tomorrow were, a Blame
That Others could exist
While She must finish quite
A Jealousy for Her arose
So nearly infinite—
We waited while She passed—
It was a narrow time—
Too jostled were Our Souls to speak
At length the notice came.
She mentioned, and forgot—
Then lightly as a Reed
Bent to the Water, struggled scarce—
Consented, and was dead—
And We—We placed the Hair—
And drew the Head erect—
And then an awful leisure was
Belief to regulate—
And the day after the death
The Morning after Death
Is solemnest of industries
Enacted upon Earth –
The Sweeping up the Heart
And putting Love away
We shall not want to use again
Until Eternity –
Anything “bisexual” there?
Just profoundly tragic all too common heart-stabbing “human” experience simply, starkly, solemnly told.
See you Monday night?
The next event in this year-long series is a lecture by Liz Bradbury,
“H.D. and Emily Dickinson: Bisexual Women Poets Who Made History,”
Monday, April 29, 6-8pm, Bradbury-Sullivan, LGBT Community Center,
522 West Maple Street, Allentown
(the location may be hard to find, so figuring a bit of extra travel time is good)