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3. Utopian Promise   

10. Rhythms
in Poetry

•  Unit Overview
•  Using the Video
•  Authors
- HD (Hilda Doolittle)
- T. S. Eliot
- Robert Frost
- Langston Hughes
- Claude McKay
- Ezra Pound
- Carl Sandburg
- Genevieve Taggard
- Jean Toomer
- William Carlos Williams
- Suggested
•  Timeline
•  Activities

Authors: H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) (1886-1961)

London Has Its Biggest Raid of the War
[7105] New York Times Paris Bureau Collection, London Has Its Biggest Raid of the War (1941), courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) Activities
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Born in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, Hilda Doolittle attended exclusive private schools in Philadelphia and was admitted to Bryn Mawr College. Her father was a professor of mathematics and astronomy at Lehigh University and the University of Pennsylvania. After attending Bryn Mawr for two years, H.D. stopped her formal schooling because of poor health.

Along the way, Hilda had fallen in love with young Ezra Pound. In 1911, when she traveled to England, Pound was waiting for her. Pound's friendship and encouragement enabled her to launch her own writing career. He helped her to publish her first poems in Poetry, and later in the anthology Des Imagistes (1914); he also gave her the penname H.D. by which she became widely known. Inspired by Pound's endorsement of vers libre, imagism, and vorticism, H.D. aimed to write tight, concise poems, resonant in the tradition of the haiku. Deeply interested in classical Greek literature, she brought Greek mythology and the words of classical poets into her own verse. Her poems are also characterized by their vivid descriptions of natural scenes and objects, which often stand for a feeling or mood. Her first collection of poetry, Sea Garden (1916), reflects the interests and techniques that were to remain central to her work.

Like many of the other poets in this unit, H.D. spent most of her adult life out of the United States. In 1913, she married fellow poet and imagist Richard Aldington, who shared her passion for Greek literature. The marriage soon ended, and H.D. was left as a single mother with little money. She soon forged a close relationship with a woman named Winifred Bryher, the daughter of a successful businessman. Bryher, who wrote historical novels herself, fell in love with H.D. and supported the poet financially for the rest of her life, allowing her the leisure to write and travel as she wished. H.D.'s companionship with Bryher probably inspired several prose pieces, namely Pilate's Wife, Asphodel, and Her, which dealt candidly with lesbianism, but they were not published until after her death. In 1933, with the encouragement of Bryher, H.D. left London to become a "pupil" (H.D.'s word) of Sigmund Freud. In 1939, she and Bryher returned to London, where they weathered the terrifying Blitz, the devastating German bombing campaign against London and other British cities. H.D. would write about this experience in her The Walls Do Not Fall (1944), Tribute to the Angels (1945), and The Flowering of the Rod (1946). These poems were later collected under one title, Trilogy (1973). After a long and prolific career, during which she published eight volumes of poetry, four novels, a memoir, and several critical works, H.D. died in Zurich.

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