The Concentric Circles of Meaning in Trilogy


If one looks at the Greek derivatives for Megalomania rather than the colloquial notion of the word, one can see that it essentially means “large madness”. In a sense the structuring of Trilogy mirrors a certain madness with its repetitions and the way that words have a tendency to turn on their meanings. At the end of “Tribute to the Angels” one can see the notion of “ the mother of god” is reinvented and revised in a manner that turns our notion of this religious figure on itself. H.D. writes, “ she is the counter-coin-side/of primitive terror;/she is not-fear, she is not-war,/but she is no symbolic figure”(570). In this passage H.D. is explicitly exploring the notion of reinventing. She begins her series of reinvention metaphors with more abstract concepts like “fear” and “terror” but interweaves more concrete things like the “counter-coin-side” which utilizes two words that imply reversal, “counter” and “side”. Finally H.D. delves into more explicit language when she writes, “She is no symbolic figure”. From these lines H.D. lets her reader see how she is turning the image in on itself, reinventing it by stripping it of the language that is usually used in its description.

Yet the language of the “symbolic image” is not the only aspect of the image that is altered. In H.D.’s reinvention of this image she delves deeper and strips the “mother of God” of her motherhood when she writes, “but the Lamb was not with her,/either as Bridegroom or Child”(571).  In this quotation the reader can note the concentric circling of H.D.’s reinvention. First she changes the language by which the reader relates to the image, then she delves deeper into the established imagery and removes the icon of the child from the image.  H.D. writes at the end of stanza 39, “the same-different-the same attributes./different yet the same as before”(571).  In this quotation one can see how H.D. is attempting to turn the meaning of these images in on themselves, so that they feel similar-yet are different because of her revision.

In the “The Flowering of the Rod” one sees again the echoing of this revised image of “mother of God”. When Mary is depicted at the very end of Trilogy holding a “bundle of myrrh” instead of the child. Additionally H.D. revises the notion of “mother” when she writes, “but Kaspar knew the seal of the jar was unbroken”. In this quotation  H.D. revises the idea of mother with virginal and Hymen imagery with the image of an unbroken jar. One can see through these gradual iconoclastic revisions to the image of “mother of God” that H.D. exhibits a gradual focusing on editing the way the reader views the image of this woman until it is similar-yet different, a version of itself that has been inverted and changed to the point that the very meaning of the image has changed.


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