Saturday, February 11, 2006

End to Torment

In 1958, the year the campaign to get Ezra Pound released from St. Elizabeth's was to finally succeed, H.D.'s Swiss analyst persuaded her to write down her memories of Pound, her sometime fiancee, insistent fraternal presence though her early years in London, and, with a quick stroke of the pen, creator of one of the most famous personae in 20th century American literature: H.D., Imagiste.

Her memoir was eventually published under the title End to Torment in 1979. In the back, the editor includes a chapbook of poems Pound wrote for H.D. in 1905-1907, before Pound left for Europe, a period when the two were still (in that quaint way prewar America had of putting it) courting. I thought it'd be fun to include one to show what Modernist iconoclasts could sound like in their very early twenties, and to mark out the distance American poetry traveled, the vanguard of it anyway, between say 1905 and WW II, the years of the Pisan Cantos and Trilogy. What do you think?

The Wings

A wondrous holiness hath touched me
And I have felt the whirring of its wings
Above me, Lifting me above all terrene things
As her fingers fluttered into mine
Its wings whirring above me as it passed
I know no thing therelike, lest it be
A lapping wind among the pines
Half shadowed of a hidden moon
A wind that presseth close
and kisseth not
But whirreth, soft as light
Of twilit streams in hidden ways
This is base thereto and unhallowed
Her fingers layed on mine in fluttering benediction
And above the whirring of all-holy wings.

--Ezra Pound, "Hilda's Book"


Dallas said...

I think that's cute, if perhaps not the best love poem I've ever read. It shows an interesting side of Pound, though, and makes me curious to how much of his later persona was a put-on and how much he had actually changed. I wonder also what H.D. thought of him in his later years and if the fondness for him was the same throughout the years. I guess only she would really be able to say.

rodney k said...

Check out End to Torment! It's short, beautifully structured, and very direct about H.D.'s feelings for Ezra in later life. Well worth a read!