POETS Day! HD, as in Hilda Doolittle

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Yesterday was opening day. You’d think Major League Baseball would feature all manner of get out of work early fare for the first Friday of the season but it doesn’t. The earliest game starts at 6:40 ET. That’s a bit too late on the East coast and probably around midnight or so on the West coast, but I may be off there – the metric system never made sense to me. How do people play hooky to see a game that doesn’t start until they get off work? I don’t want to trot out “You’re either for us or you’re against us,” for MLB because they’ve been such a friend to POETS Day in the past, but I feel like they dropped the ball here. That said, baseball’s error is no excuse for you to lay down on laying down on the job. The weekend starts when you say it does. Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday. Consider your boss and get your mind right. That’s the enemy. Hold nothing back. Dissemble, obfuscate, fudge the truth, and gleefully trespass whatever norms and delicate pieties are left to preserve our hopefully durable civilization. Nearly all means are justified by the urge to prematurely escape the bonds of employment and settle in at a friendly neighborhood joint to watch yesterday’s highlights and some pre-game blather, tap your fingers impatiently on the bleachers of a local ball park, realize that it doesn’t matter how the long the line is for a hot dog considering that it’ll be God knows how long before the first pitch, or heavens forfend, throw up your hands in frustration and watch soccer. It’s your weekend. Do with it as you will, but in homage to the mighty acronym may I suggest setting aside a moment for a little verse? It’s a particularly good way to pass time waiting on friends who may not run as roughshod over the delicate pieties and were not as successful as you were in engineering an early exit.


The anonymous writer of the bio for Hilda Doolittle at the invaluable Poetry Foundation notes that the poet suffers from early success. “H.D.’s justified reputation as the greatest and purest imagist paradoxically led to a critical cage whose perpetrators either lamented the fact that she stopped writing perfect gems or persisted in discussing five and ignoring 45 years of poetic development.” She wrote remarkably later in life and while I’ve read bits from that period I’m not at all as familiar with the later as I’ve become with the earlier. Scholarship since the 1970s, no doubt to the delight of the bio writer, celebrates the whole body of her work as remarkable. “Helen of Egypt” (1961) is held out as particularly significant.

Call me a Philistine, but I’m currently interested in her early Imagist period and will persist in my admiration of five at the expense of what followed. It was Glenn Hughes, author of Imagism and the Imagists: A Study in Modern Poetry (1931), who first referred to Doolittle as “the purist imagist.” In the 1913 issue of “Poetry” a set of three poetic principles as put forth by the three original Imagistes: Ezra Pound, Doolittle, and her husband Richard Aldington.

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