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Above the Dock -- T E Hulme

(Poem #726) Above the Dock
 Above the quiet dock in midnight,
 Tangled in the tall mast's corded height,
 Hangs the moon. What seemed so far away
 Is but a child's balloon, forgotten after play.
-- T E Hulme
T. E. Hulme's place in the history of literature seems assured, not so much
for his own poetic output, but for his catalyzing influence upon Ezra Pound
and the Imagists. As an aesthete and essayist, Hulme was a pioneer, one of
the flag-bearers of modernism; many of the most radical innovators of the
early years of this century owe their inspiration to Hulme's critical

Which is not to say that his own poems are unworthy of consideration or
attention; they aren't. ("Above the Dock", for example, is an excellent
showcase for the principles of Imagism put into action - direct,
descriptive, and wonderfully nuanced in its minimalism). It's just that
there are far too few of them for Hulme ever to be considered a major poet;
his tragically early death (he was killed in action in the First World War)
ensures that prose will be his primary legacy.



Today's poem concludes this week's theme - the Moon. Other moon poems:

Poem #260, "Moonrise", Gerard Manley Hopkins
Poem #424, "The Moonsheep", Christian Morgenstern
Poem #643, "The Man in the Moon Came Down Too Soon", J. R. R. Tolkien
Poem #723, "Full Moon and Little Frieda", Ted Hughes
Poem #724, "Hymn to Diana", Ben Jonson
Poem #725, "Silver", Walter de la Mare

[Biography and assessment]

        b. Sept. 16, 1883, Endon, Staffordshire, Eng.
        killed in action Sept. 28, 1917, France

in full THOMAS ERNEST HULME, English aesthetician, literary critic, and
poet, one of the founders of the Imagist movement and a major 20th-century
literary influence.

Hulme was educated at Newcastle-under-Lyme grammar school and went to St.
John's College, Cambridge, but was expelled for rowdyism in 1904. Thereafter
he lived mainly in London, translating the works of Henri Bergson and Albert
Sorel and, with Ezra Pound, F.S. Flint, and Hilda Doolittle (H.D.),
instigating the Imagist movement. Five of his poems were published in New
Age (January 1912) and reprinted at the end of Pound's Ripostes. Before his
death while fighting in World War I, Hulme defended militarism against the
pacifism of Bertrand Russell.

Hulme posited that post-Renaissance humanism was coming to an end and
believed that its view of man as without inherent limitations and
imperfections was sentimental and based on false premises. His hatred of
romantic optimism, his view of man as limited and absurd, his theology,
which emphasized the doctrine of original sin, and his advocacy of a "hard,
dry" kind of art and poetry foreshadowed the disillusionment of many writers
of the 1920s. He advocated the "geometrical" art of Pablo Picasso and
Wyndham Lewis as the potential expression of a new, more disciplined
religious outlook.

Hulme published little in his lifetime, but his work and ideas sprang into
fame in 1924, when his friend Herbert Read assembled some of his notes and
fragmentary essays under the title Speculations. Additional compilations
were edited by Read (Notes on Language and Style, 1929) and by Sam Hynes
(Further Speculations, 1955). Many of his noted contemporaries hailed him as
a great thinker, though later opinion has tended to downplay his

        -- EB

19 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

paul morrell said...

did bob dylan ever read it, the handmade blade, the child's balloon, eclipses both the sun and moon....

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