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Oread -- H D

Back after a much-needed vacation...
(Poem #310) Oread
Whirl up, sea --
Whirl your pointed pines,
Splash your great pines
On our rocks;
Hurl your green over us,
Cover us with your pools of fir.
-- H D
Hilda Doolittle published her first poems under the name H. D. Imagiste (the 'e'
was meant to suggest the French poets to whom Imagism owed such a debt). Later,
she dropped the artificial surname and wrote as just plain 'H. D.'.

'Oread' is probably H. D.'s most famous poem; it's certainly her most-quoted
work. I need hardly comment on the energy and intensity (bordering on violence,
sometimes) of the lines; what I find equally noteworthy is the simplicity of the
vocabulary - out of twenty-odd words, only two have more than one syllable.
This, of course, is perfectly in sync with the Imagist mantra "show, don't tell"
- it's no wonder that Pound and others considered 'Oread' to be among the purest
embodiments of their poetic ethos.

In later life, H. D. discarded (some would say 'grew out of') the Imagist mantle
she wore in her youth. Sometimes I wish she hadn't.

thomas.

[About 'Oread']

It is time to consider the poem [Ezra] Pound selected as the exemplar of
Vorticist poetry. "In painting - Kandinsky, Picasso," he wrote, in the first
issue of Blast, "In poetry this by `H.D.'" In Blast the poem is untitled. When
it appeared in Some Imagist Poets (1915) it was called "Oread," and this is the
title under which appears in H. D.'s Collected Poems. F. S. Flint in the Egoist
referred to the poem as "Pines," clearly believing that it speaks of pines,
imaged as a green sea. Pound, however, appears to have read the poem differently
... "`H.D.'s waves like pine tops." ... This confusion is, paradoxically,
illuminating, for all such formulations misrepresent the poem. The poem is not
about pines or the sea. It ... functions in a non-discursive mode and cannot be
"unfolded" or explained; for [as Pound stated] "the Image is more than an idea.
It is a vortex or cluster of fused ideas and is endowed with energy."

And indeed the most immediately striking quality of "Oread" is perhaps its
projection of a contained energy: it is vibrant, yet reaches stasis. The stasis
is achieved in part by the poet's refusal to extend her compass... The energy is
a product of the intensity of the poet's vision. It is bodied forth in the
centering of the poem on forceful verbs. In six short lines we find five violent
verbs: "whirl" (twice), "splash," "hurl" (strengthened by the assonantal
relationship with "whirl"), and "cover." All are in the imperative mood; each is
placed at the beginning of a line; and only commas are allowed to articulate
this avalanche of energy. Thus we have a movement of breathless crescendo, or
rather of repeated climax, suggestive of the surging of sea and forest alike.
And thus the poem is a worthy model of authentic imagism, of Pound's vorticist
ideal - the five clauses really offer alternative expressions of a single idea.

    -- Brendan Jackson, from "'The Fulsomeness of her Prolixity': Reflections on
H.D. Imagiste". The South Atlantic Quarterly 83:1 (Winter 1984): 99-100.

[About H. D. ]

Her work is characterized by the intense strength of her images, economy of
language, and use of classical mythology. Her poems did not receive widespread
appreciation and acclaim during her lifetime, in part because her name was
associated with the Imagist movement even as her voice had outgrown its
boundaries, as evidenced by her book-length works, Trilogy and Helen in Egypt.
Neglect of H. D. can also be attributed to her times, as many of her poems spoke
to an audience which was unready to respond to the strong feminist principles
articulated in her work. She died in 1961.

    -- from the Academy of American Poets,
[broken link] http://www.poets.org/LIT/poet/hdoolfst.htm

[About the Imagists]

A group of American and English poets whose poetic program was formulated about
1912 by Ezra Pound -- in conjunction with fellow poets Hilda Doolittle (H.D.),
Richard Aldington, and F.S. Flint -- inspired by the critical views of T.E.
Hulme, in revolt against the careless thinking and Romantic optimism he saw
prevailing.

The Imagists wrote succinct verse of dry clarity and hard outline in which an
exact visual image made a total poetic statement. Imagism was a successor to the
French Symbolist movement, but whereas Symbolism had an affinity with music,
Imagism sought analogy with sculpture. In 1914 Pound turned to Vorticism, and
Amy Lowell largely took over leadership of the group. Among others who wrote
Imagist poetry were John Gould Fletcher and Harriet Monroe; Conrad Aiken,
Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, D.H. Lawrence, and T.S. Eliot were influenced
by it in their own poetry.

    -- English 88, at UPenn -
http://www.english.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/imagism-def.html

[Links]

A biography of H. D. can be found at [broken link] http://www.well.com/user/heddy/hdbio.html

A nice introduction to Imagism (including definitions, poems and commentaries)
can be found at  [broken link] http://monte.mvhs.srvusd.k12.ca.us/~katlee/imagism2.html

'Oread' is the first poem by H. D. to be featured on the Minstrels, but we've
covered lots of Imagists. Some of my favourites:

'The River Merchant's Wife: A Letter' by Ezra Pound is one of the most
heart-breakingly beautiful poems I know - poem #70

'The Red Wheelbarrow' by William Carlos Williams is possibly the most famous
Imagist poem of them all) - poem #83

'Whitman' by Alfred Kreymborg is dazzling in its simplicity - poem #245

Carl Sandburg's 'Crucible' is quite possibly my favourite poem of all time -
poem #205

[Glossary]

Main Entry: oread
Function: noun
Etymology: Middle English oreades, plural, from Latin oread-, oreas, from Greek
oreiad-, areias, from oreios of a mountain, from oros mountain
Date: 14th century
: any of the nymphs of mountains and hills in Greek mythology

    -- Merriam-Webster Online, http://www.m-w.com/

40 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

Chuck Boody said...

Paul Fetler's musical setting of this poem is an amazing musical
realization of the poem's content. It is a minimalist as the poem itself, and
takes maximum advantage of the text implications discussed by other writers
here

Chuck Boody
Conductor, Duodecimi Chamber Choir

Carolyn McGrath said...

I'm not sure how long I've been a subscriber to WM now but searching for
this, as the supposedly best example of Imagist poetry, was what drew me in.
I loved the poem immediately but the notes helped enormously. The title
meant nothing to me until I read the provided definition and it crystallised
my perception of the poem - suddenly the voice of the oread evoking the
power of the sea in the only language at her disposal, that of the mountain,
held it all together for me. Interestingly, I have since read that the poem
was originally untitled. Does anybody know why it was added later? As I say,
it works for me.

Carolyn

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หนังโป๊ออนไลน์ said...

'm not sure how long I've been a subscriber to WM now but searching for
this, as the supposedly best example of Imagist poetry, was what drew me in.
I loved the poem immediately but the notes helped enormously. The title
meant nothing to me until I read the provided definition and it crystallised
my perception of the poem - suddenly the voice of the oread evoking the
power of the sea in the only language at her disposal, that of the mountain,
held it all together for me. Interestingly, I have since read that the poem
was originally untitled. Does anybody know why it was added later? As I say,
it works for me.

หนังโป๊ออนไลน์ said...

'm not sure how long I've been a subscriber to WM now but searching for
this, as the supposedly best example of Imagist poetry, was what drew me in.
I loved the poem immediately but the notes helped enormously. The title

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perception of the poem - suddenly the voice of the oread evoking the
power of the sea in the only language at her disposal, that of the mountain,
held it all together for me. Interestingly, I have since read that the poem
was originally untitled. Does anybody know why it was added later? As I say,

หนังโป๊ออนไลน์ said...

not sure how long I've been a subscriber to WM now but searching for
this, as the supposedly best example of Imagist poetry, was what drew me i

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