Wednesday, January 12, 2011


I wrote a couple micro-reviews for a workshop a couple years ago and one of them was of HD's Selected Poems.  I recently re-found the piece and thought I'd share it with you all here, as it's one of my favorite books:

HD’s Selected Poems was first published in 1957, four years before her death in 1961.  I was a little disappointed that the book didn’t give information about when each poem was previously published, mostly because I felt like her language didn’t feel “old.”  Her first book, Sea Garden, is 94.  Her poems do rely on classical images and ideas, using Greek and Roman gods and heroes, so the content does get a little stodgy.  The thing that draws me into her poems the most is her syntax and her images, which feel very contemporary at times.  There are also places that I can actually see my own writing in, such as this stanza from Adonis:
Not the gold on the temple-front
where you stand
is as gold as this,
not the gold that fastens your sandal,
nor the gold, reft
through your chiseled locks,
is as gold as this last year’s leaf,
not all the gold hammered and wrought
and beaten
on your lover’s face,
brow and breast
is as golden as this
The syntax in these lines, the repetition, and the figurative language that the stanza closes with are amazing.  It’s poetry that makes me want to write more poetry.  Though I know this is highly subjective, I think that is the definition of a successful poem.

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