Tuesday, February 14, 2006

The Original Imagist

After reading H.D. over, I can see why she'd term herself an imagist. I think poems such as "Sea Rose," "Pear Tree," and "Sea Violet" have such a breathtaking loveliness to them. There is a cool, graceful sensuality to these poems which I found rather striking. Rather than being overly subsumed by the fruit and flower imagery, she uses them in perfect unison attributing significance to those flower and fauna that might be historically be overlooked.

I thought it was fascinating how she took what we might interpret to be marginalized flowers and fruits and attribute them with a grace that is at once striking and lovely. For example, in "Sea Rose," she took a flower that is "thin, and sparse of leaf" and yet attributes it with a long-deserved beauty and grace. In fact, she mentions that it is more precious than a wet rose on a single stem. By inverting those binaries interpretations of grace, beauty, and abundance I think she comments inadvertently on the nature of beauty, asthetics, and form -- which reign as important elements in her poetry as well.

I also found her comment in Norman Pearson's introduction to Trilogy to be fascinating. For example, in a note to Pearson, she clarifies her role as a poet: "I do not want to pick out gems or be a 'clear-cut crystal.' That catch phrase is easy for journalists. A seed is not a crystal..." (vi). It seems as if she didn't see her poetry as a mechanical, efficient slice of prose (as Pound claimed Modern Poetry should be). So, while it may have some of these characteristics on the surface -- its also a beautiful amalgam of discrete, simple, yet elegant images -- which makes poetry a pleasure to read.

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