Susan Stanford Friedman: On the Poems from H.D.’s First Volume, Sea Garden

Permeating H.D.’s early revisionary exploration of female identity is an austere sensuality, an erotic dimension of repressed yet explosive sexuality that is nonreferential in nature. Like the potent flowers in Lawrence’s early novels and Georgia O’Keefe’s paintings, H.D.’s flowers indirectly suggest an intense eroticism, whose power comes precisely from its elusive, nonhuman expression. Related to her animistic sense of the scared, H.D.’s objective correlatives for the self often radiate erotic energy and rhythms. In particular, the five flower poems of Sea Garden . . . structure that volume and underline its revisionary treatment of the sentimental Victorian language of flowers. . . .

H.D. repeatedly established dualisms that paralleled the fundamental polarity of male and female, masculine and feminine, another aspect of her imagist poems that is both unique to her work and continuous with her later development. Her imagist poems are often linguistically and thematically structured on polarities such as land and sea, hard and soft, ripe and unripe, wild and sheltered, swift and slow, stunted and lush, torn and whole, pointed and round, positive and negative, salt and sweet, and so forth. . . . Reflecting in part her pride in her difference, and her separation from the conventional or sentimental, H.D. always rejected the ripe for the unripe, the lovely for the harsh, the soft for the hard. At the same time, however, her representation of polarity became the first step in a dialectical process moving toward synthesis.

From "Hilda Doolittle (H.D.)" Dictionary of Literary Biography: American Poets, 1880-1845. Vol. 45. Detroit: Gale Research, 1983. 125-26. Copyright © 1983 by Susan Stanford Friedman

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Title Susan Stanford Friedman: On the Poems from H.D.’s First Volume, Sea Garden Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author Susan Stanford Friedman Criticism Target H(ilda) D(oolittle)
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 13 Jul 2015
Publication Status Excerpted Criticism Publication No Data
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