Haven’t you ever said to yourself “Self, I want more of that delightful Ezra Pound, but I don’t want to have to read any of his poetry with those pretentious passages in ancient Greece. And I would like it to be funny. And to not actually be written by Ezra Pound at all.” Well, I have the solution for you! From McSweeney’s and Greg Purcell, I bring you

The Ten Worst Films of All Time, As Reviewed by Ezra Pound Over Italian Radio

Bambi: Filth.

Casablanca: This  movie is filth.

Cat People: A race may civilize itself by language, not film. Cat People is filth.

Gentlemen Jim: Tot he Animals who made this usurious film: god damn you.

The Magnificent Andersons: This movie is indistinguishable from the filth-rustlings of swine in a sty.

The Man Who Came to Dinner: May you choke on it, bacilli.

Yankee Doodle Dandy: I sort of liked James Cagney’s filthy Irish energy in this one.

The Palm Beach Story: Bless: The Italian Dolcestilnovisti, the “sweet new style” current in the time of the papish Guelps and the imperial Ghibellines. One will particularly take heed of its foremost practitioner, Guido Cavalcanti. Blast: Preston Sturges and the Jewish moneylenders who helped him to makes this film.

Now, Voyager: Two boils for the director’s infected liver.

This Gun for Hire: This film reeks of syphilis. Filth.

(HERmione and Asphodel don’t really get into Ezra Pound’s more controversial opinions, but from what we’ve read, this seems to be on track. All it needs to be perfect is for him to refer to a woman as “it” at some point)



I don’t know about you guys…


…but when I’m stressed out about papers, I tend to indulge in bizarre panic-displacement activities. These usually involve cleaning my room, but my new obsession with Polyvore meant that Wednesday night, I was making Trilogy-inspired outfits. This is my favorite:

Even though putting this together was mostly a way to feel like I was doing work without actually writing, I do think that I was really inspired by Trilogy, specifically “The Walls Do Not Fall,” while coming up with it. One of the things I really loved about “Trilogy” is the idea of the bombings being interruptions–that opening line “An incident here or there,” though casual, really conveys that this had become a variant from every day life. The idea that it was “here or there,” that maybe it would impact you less in some places and more in others, and that above all it was unpredictable, made me think of a party being interrupted. So I put together a party/Blitz-inspired outfit. The dress sort of speaks for itself. I chose the headband because of the flower pattern, which made me think of the flowers in “The Flowering of the Rod” and invokes the “weight of a domed crown” in the description of the Lady. I chose the cuff because it’s not silver, it’s “silver-tone,” which references the metal disappearing due to the war.

I chose the clutch because it reminded me of one of my favorite lines in Trilogy “yet the ancient rubrics reveal that we were at the beginning.” That line, and the references to the secrets of language in that part of the poem, made me think of things kept under lock and key, much like the clasp on the purse. Finally, I chose the shoes because they made me think of the line “Pompeii has nothing to teach us, we know crack of volcanic fissure, slow flow of terrible lava.”

So yeah, that’s what I do when I’m panicking over a paper. Anyone want to contribute some ED ones?



Let’s talk Tribute to the Angels, shall we?


I’m becoming obsessed with palimpsest and it is all Trilogy‘s fault. “Tribute to the Angels” is filled with it. The part that struck me the most was how she connects religion and words. In lyric 8 when she takes the words marah and mar and brings them around to Mary, H.D. shows that there is an easily tracked evolution to religion. Mar means “My lord” in Syriac and the Israelites passed through Marah during the exodus. She tracks how the word evolved until it became Mary. H.D. connects Syriac Orthodox Christianity and Roman Catholicism, two very different traditions built upon the same foundational language, instead of following the common belief that Eastern and Western Christianity are completely different.

I think that H.D. also tries to undo the sexism of religion through this poem. In 11 and 12, she takes on the damage done to Venus’s name which had become the root for all things impure.  She accuses that “knaves and fools/ have done you impious wrong.” H.D. accuses those who slander Venus (possibly members of the ‘new-church’ that spat on the Roman tradition?) as being irreligious. By denying Venus’s existence and importance, they’re denying their own religion. H.D. instead connects Venus’s name to venerate and venerator. By venerating Venus, H.D. shows that she is of equal importance to other religious figures.

Anyone else have thoughts on palimpsest in this poem?And does anyone have thoughts on the woman god described in 29? I know that there are about a million religious traditions she’s referencing; between all of us, we can probably id them all.



Sarah’s Long-Awaited CC Assignment A


Perdita, or Lack Thereof

It is striking to me how little is written about Perdita. I see her of one of the most interesting people of the many who surrounded H. D. Perhaps I am only romanticizing, but she seems to me a relatively normal child, and later woman, thrust by no fault or request of her own into the most unusual of circumstances. It’s true that she’s not the most interesting of the cast of characters in which she was born—less drama surrounds her than anyone else. Even in the trials that do involve her, such as the spat over her registration and her eventual adoption, have almost nothing to do with her—she might as well have been a piece of furniture or a relic of art.

This strange fading away of such an interesting person is reflected in H. D.’s writing. There is very little written about Frances Perdita Aldington Schaffner by her mother or mother-figures; she seems not to have been a very noteworthy person at all. Even when she is mentioned, it is as an allusion to H. D.’s pressures and troubles surrounding Perdita’s birth. Thus, I consulted Barbara Guest’s biography of H. D., Herself Defined:  The Poet H. D. and Her World, to try to find more information about this “little lost one.”

On page 243 I found a little nugget that explains so much about Perdita—not only about her early life, but also about the kind of atmosphere she was raised in and the attitudes of those around her. Her first few weeks were spent at the nursery where we see her at the end of Asphodel, and then she was moved to another house, separate from H. D. For a time, it seems, she lived with Bryher and H. D., but was sent to a vocational school (cooking, housekeeping), and then a girl’s school, and then shunted between Kenwin and London, as H. D. couldn’t stand to have her around too much. At eighteen, she moved to a flat in London separate from her mother. In fact, for most of her life she lived separate from H. D., which explains her absence from H. D.’s writing—she was absent from her life. According to H. D., “This did not mean…that her love was any the less for Perdita. It was that she suffered from the mere physical presence of another person.” I’m not well-informed enough to judge H. D.’s parenting skills, and I have no children of my own, but I believe that some sort of proximity to one’s child is rather useful in their upbringing, and it appears that H. D. couldn’t physically do that.

In a biography of a person, you would expect attention to be devoted to their family most of all. In Guest’s biography, H. D.’s friends and lovers take precedent, and Perdita, her one blood tie left at the time (her family either dead or in America), is mentioned only in little asides. To get a sense of what the daughter meant to the mother, these little asides must be examined. In 1924, Bryher writes to H. D. to come to Paris, suggesting she bring “the Pudding’ (159). Nursery-age Perdita, apparently round and chubby, is the dish referred to—almost an afterthought, and certainly an object (it is a cute nickname, but the fact remains that it’s indicative of how her two mothers treated her). When Bryher encourages Perdita to go to America, she warns of how these two mothers could smother her. “We would eat you up!’ she told Perdita” (289). (pudding, anyone?) Here we can see that the high drama and demanding personalities of the people surrounding Perdita caused her to truly become a background character, as she is in the biography.

In the US, she married a literary agent, and their home became “one of literary enterprise combined with raising a family of four children” (289). She appears to have come into her own here—it was in the US that she started her lucrative career as a writer—she writes her own works and the prefaces to and criticism of her mother’s works. After H. D., Perdita has become more of a person than during H. D. Two of her sons are published writers, and her daughter is an artist, and Guest says that “H. D. would now see in the Schaffner household fresh rewards of her own literary creativity”—though she appears to have been mostly absent from this actual household. It seems that there is not much about Perdita in H. D., but plenty of H. D. in Perdita. While Perdita’s effect on H. D. cannot really be considered an anecdote, I consider her an important person in H. D.’s life—and was slightly disappointed to find that, ultimately, she isn’t.

Sources:
Guest, Barbara. Herself Defined: The Poet H.D. and Her World. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984.   Print
Perdita, Schaffner. “Running.” The Iowa Review 16.3 (1986): 7-13. JSTOR. Web.*
*This is very very interesting reading, I highly recommend it.



To provide some context for “The Walls Do Not Fall”


A bombed-out John Lewis department store on Oxford Street in London.

An air marshal after a bombing.

I think this picture really gets to what H.D. was describing in “The Walls Do Not Fall.” In the literal sense, this photo shows that even though these building have been hollowed out the walls are still standing. H.D. wrote that “the tide is turning;/ it uncovers pebble and shells,/ beautiful yet static, empty.” I think that there is something beautiful to these pictures, but at the same time they are static; it seems like there’s no way that they can be associated with life ever again. I also think that these photos get to one of the deeper themes of “The Walls Do Not Fall,” the role of the survivor. At the beginning, H.D. says “Yet the frame held:/ we passed the flame: we wonder/ what saved us? what for?” I think that it’s interesting that H.D. questions what the impact of survival is in a world that’s completely destroyed. So much of what we learn about the Blitz in school is about the RAF and how the British kept their spirits up, but I think that this poem reveals the reality of the situation: would you want to survive something like that? Especially if you didn’t know how long it would last?

[Photo credits: ARTstor]



Claire’s CC Assignment A


Frances Gregg, the woman behind Fayne Rabb in HERmione and Asphodel, was born in 1884. At the time she met H.D. she was living with her widowed mother in Philadelphia (Guest 22). H.D. met Gregg through their mutual friend Nan Hoyt. The meeting took place in 1909, after H.D. had left Bryn Mawr (Guest 22). Since Ezra Pound had left for Europe earlier in the year, H.D. had been searching for a new companion. H.D. found in Gregg a friend with similar beliefs and interests, or as Barbara Guest called Gregg, a “twin and her love” (Guest 23). John Cowper Powys and Llewellyn Powys both described Gregg as androgynous, a description echoed by H.D. in Hermione (Guest 24). This is an image that Gregg played up: while on her honeymoon in Venice, Gregg spent much of the time dressed as a boy (Guest 38). Though H.D. delighted in her time with Gregg, her parents were critical of their relationship, which they viewed as worse than her relationship with Pound (Guest 25). Despite their dislike, they allowed H.D. to travel to Europe with Gregg and her mother.

The 1911 trip to Europe was rocky; H.D. and Gregg’s mother often fought over Gregg. Gregg’s mother claimed that H.D. was “robbing the widow of her orphan” and H.D. accused her of trying to restrict Gregg’s freedom (Guest 28). The relationship between H.D. and Gregg was strained as well; before leaving for Europe, Gregg admitted to being involved with Pound. Gregg wrote in her diary “Two girls in love with each other, and each in love with the same man. Hilda, Ezra, Frances” (Guest 26). H.D. eventually parted from Gregg and her mother in order to live in Europe. One year later, Gregg wrote to H.D. to inform her that she would be in London with her new husband (Guest 36). Gregg had married Louis Wilkinson, a lecturer who was booked to speak in Brussels. Gregg asked that H.D. accompany them to Brussels to keep her company while her husband worked (Guest 36). H.D. agreed to go but was physically stopped at the train station by Ezra Pound. Guest says that this was a wise decision on Pound’s part and that H.D. most likely felt that Gregg had “triumphed” over her by getting married first (Guest 37).

H.D. and Gregg did not see each other for more than a decade after her marriage to Wilkinson, but Gregg remained an influence on H.D.’s life. According to Guest, H.D. would confuse her female lovers with Frances (Guest 120). Later, when she became friends with the writer Harold P Collins, H.D. stridently defended Gregg when he questioned her actions (Guest 149). H.D. eventually came across Gregg in the 1920s, when Gregg was living in greatly reduced circumstances (Guest 178). Her marriage to Wilkinson ended in 1920 and Gregg was sharing a single bedroom with her mother in London (Guest 38). Though H.D. defended Gregg to Collins, she was wary of befriending her again due to Gregg and Wilkinson’s scathing portrayal of H.D. in their 1916 book The Buffoon (Guest 178). They eventually crossed paths again in 1926. Gregg introduced Kenneth MacPherson to H.D., whom Bryher later married and H.D. fell in love with (Guest 179).

H.D. and Gregg continued writing to one another until 1934 (Guest 230). H.D. entrusted their letters to Silvia Dobson; Guest believes that she did this in order to conceal the letters from Bryher (Guest 229). This does not hint that theirs was a particularly close relationship. When Gregg suggested that Perdita meet her son Oliver, H.D. passionately refused the offer (Guest 229). H.D. did briefly entertain the thought of moving Gregg and her family from Plymouth after an explosion in the area, but decided that it was ultimately too expensive and complicated of an idea (Guest 229). Contact between the two appeared to have ceased after 1934 and in 1941, Gregg, her mother, and her daughter were killed in the bombing of Plymouth (Guest 230).

Though they spent relatively little time in one another’s company, Gregg had a profound influence on H.D.’s life. Gregg is the main character in HERmione and causes the George-Hermione-Fayne triangle that helped bring on Hermione’s emotional breakdown. Even though she is not as prevalent in Asphodel, Fayne’s presence causes Hermione’s emotional turmoil. Fayne’s actions are not totally equal to Gregg’s, though Guest takes that view. Rather, that H.D. chose to portray in Gregg such a way shows the impact that she had on H.D.’s young life and her development as a writer. H.D.’s continued correspondence with Gregg in the 1920s and 1930s shows that she was willing to forgive Gregg for The Buffoon and their earlier falling-out; however, Gregg’s life was much diminished compared to what it had once been and it is possible that H.D. saw her as a relic of her old life. Her insistence on keeping her correspondence with Gregg secret and refusing to mix their families shows H.D.’s resistance to fully incorporating Gregg back into her life.

Works Cited

Guest, Barbara. Herself Defined: The Poet H.D. and Her World. Garden City: Doubleday, 1984. Print



Claire’s Bridge to the Blog


Today’s class began with the following: a delightful discussion about kumquats, yummy coffee cake, Dr. Scanlon shaming us about the blog and t-shirts, and symposium discussion. I personally love the idea of a Borderline pastiche (can you do those in film?)

Most of today’s discussion centered on the relationship between “The Master” and Tribute to Freud. Everett began the discussion with the story of Perseus that H.D. related in which she is unsure what character she is supposed to be. Everett thought that H.D. related most to Perseus since he is the creator figure in the anecdote. This is not the first time that we’ve seen H.D. unable to identify with a specific character in her dreams; the Miriam/Princess/Moses dream is the most prominent example. Do you think it’s possible that she relates to all the figures in a particular dream? We briefly talked about H.D.’s role as a prophet after Alyssa brought up that Miriam was a prophet. This is a role that could be assigned to Moses as well. Instead of relating to Moses as the creator of a religion as Freud suggests, H.D. could relate to him as a prophet; that way she would have the male and female author represented in her dream. The princess could represent female power. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

We also focused on the relationship between H.D.’s “The Master” and E.D.’s Master letters. As Scanlon pointed out, H.D. would have been unaware of the Master letters since they had not been published, but there are still some odd similarities between the two, especially the flower imagery. Many people noted that the biggest difference between the two works came down to the tone; Christine talked about how problematic the Master Letters are because they are so subservient in tone. I think one point to expand on is the power dynamics between H.D. and Freud. Scanlon mentioned that H.D. saw herself as his caretaker at times. The only examples I can think of that relationship extend from his vulnerability as an Austrian Jew, but I’d be interested to see if that dynamic comes up elsewhere. I think that H.D.’s insistence in his infallibility is one example, but it doesn’t get to that same caretaker dynamic.

We also (really briefly) touched on H.D.’s relationships with her brothers. We mostly discussed the relationship and how it was routed through her mother, but I think that the relationship can be seen in other ways. When I finished Tribute, I was especially interested in H.D’s story about her father’s brothers’ experiences in the Civil War.  Does anyone think this is a palimpsest for her own relationship with her brothers, since H.D. and her father sharing the same role as the one who didn’t go to war? We never even touched on the fact that H.D. confused her father’s birthday with D.H. Lawrence’s death day. Given her relationship with Lawrence that’s definitely up for more discussion.

Choke of the Day: The bookstore for telling Scanlon to buy the wrong book.

MVP of the Day: Sam, for her fabulous movie idea. Can I get the role of the piano player?

Quote of the day: “Do you think they would have been attracted to each other?” Gracie, on the love story between Dickinson and H.D.

Today’s class began with the following: a delightful discussion about kumquats, Dr. Scanlon shaming us about the blog and t-shirts, and symposium discussion. I love the idea of a Borderline pastiche (can you do those in film?); big thank you to Sam for suggesting it.

We focused most of the class discussion on the relationship between “The Master” and Tribute to Freud. Everett began the discussion with the story of Perseus that H.D. related in which she is unsure what character she is supposed to be. Everett thought that H.D. related most to Perseus since he is the creator figure in the anecdote. This is not the first time that we’ve seen H.D. unable to identify with a specific character in her dreams; the Miriam/Princess/Moses dream is the most prominent example. Do you think it’s possible that she relates to all the figures in a particular dream? We briefly talked about H.D.’s role as a prophet after Alyssa brought up Miriam as a prophet, but that role could be assigned to Moses as well. Instead of relating to Moses as the creator of a religion as Freud suggests, H.D. could relate to him as a prophet; that way she would have the male and female author represented in her dream. The princess could represent female power. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

The class also focused on the relationship between H.D.’s “The Master” and E.D.’s Master letters. As Scanlon pointed out, H.D. would have been unaware of the Master letters since they had not been published, but there are still some odd similarities between the two, especially the flower imagery. Many people notes that the biggest difference between the two works comes down to the tone; Christine talked about how problematic the Master Letters are because they are so subservient. I think one point to expand more on is what Scanlon brought up about the power dynamics between H.D. and Freud and how she saw herself as his caretaker at times. The only examples I can think of that relationship come out of his vulnerability as an Austrian Jew, but I’d be interested to see if that dynamic comes up elsewhere. I think that H.D.’s insistence in his infallibility is one example, but it doesn’t get to that same caretaker dynamic.

We also (really briefly) touched on H.D.’s relationships with her brothers. We mostly discussed the relationship and how it was routed through her mother, but I think that the relationship can be seen in other ways. When I finished Tribute, I was especially interested in the story of her father’s brothers in the war.  Does anyon

Today’s class began with the following: a delightful discussion about kumquats, Dr. Scanlon shaming us about the blog and t-shirts, and symposium discussion. I love the idea of a Borderline pastiche (can you do those in film?); big thank you to Sam for suggesting it.

We focused most of the class discussion on the relationship between “The Master” and Tribute to Freud. Everett began the discussion with the story of Perseus that H.D. related in which she is unsure what character she is supposed to be. Everett thought that H.D. related most to Perseus since he is the creator figure in the anecdote. This is not the first time that we’ve seen H.D. unable to identify with a specific character in her dreams; the Miriam/Princess/Moses dream is the most prominent example. Do you think it’s possible that she relates to all the figures in a particular dream? We briefly talked about H.D.’s role as a prophet after Alyssa brought up Miriam as a prophet, but that role could be assigned to Moses as well. Instead of relating to Moses as the creator of a religion as Freud suggests, H.D. could relate to him as a prophet; that way she would have the male and female author represented in her dream. The princess could represent female power. Anyone else have thoughts on this?

The class also focused on the relationship between H.D.’s “The Master” and E.D.’s Master letters. As Scanlon pointed out, H.D. would have been unaware of the Master letters since they had not been published, but there are still some odd similarities between the two, especially the flower imagery. Many people notes that the biggest difference between the two works comes down to the tone; Christine talked about how problematic the Master Letters are because they are so subservient. I think one point to expand more on is what Scanlon brought up about the power dynamics between H.D. and Freud and how she saw herself as his caretaker at times. The only examples I can think of that relationship come out of his vulnerability as an Austrian Jew, but I’d be interested to see if that dynamic comes up elsewhere. I think that H.D.’s insistence in his infallibility is one example, but it doesn’t get to that same caretaker dynamic.

We also (really briefly) touched on H.D.’s relationships with her brothers. We mostly discussed the relationship and how it was routed through her mother, but I think that the relationship can be seen in other ways. When I finished Tribute, I was especially interested in the story of her father’s brothers in the war.  Does anyone think this is a palimpsest for her own relationship with her brothers, with H.D. and her father sharing the same role as the one who didn’t go to war? We never even touched on the fact that H.D. confused her father’s birthday with D.H. Lawrence’s death day. Given Lawrence’s apparent rejection of her, which opens up a whole new can of worms.

Choke of the Day: The bookstore for telling Scanlon to buy the wrong book.

MVP of the Day: Sarah, for her fabulous movie idea. Can I get the role of the piano player?

Quote of the day: “Do you think they would have been attracted to each other?” Gracie, on the love story between Dickinson and H.D.

e think this is a palimpsest for her own relationship with her brothers, with H.D. and her father sharing the same role as the one who didn’t go to war? We never even touched on the fact that H.D. confused her father’s birthday with D.H. Lawrence’s death day. Given Lawrence’s apparent rejection of her, which opens up a whole new can of worms.

Choke of the Day: The bookstore for telling Scanlon to buy the wrong book.

MVP of the Day: Sarah, for her fabulous movie idea. Can I get the role of the piano player?

Quote of the day: “Do you think they would have been attracted to each other?” Gracie, on the love story between Dickinson and H.D.



Moses in the Bulrushes


Since we’ll be talking about the princess dream next class, and she mentions it several times, especially in conjunction with Freud’s theories of her dream, I looked up the Gustave Dore picture they refer to.

Moses in the Bulrushes, by Gustave Dore



Not exactly how I pictured it. Other than being a very sort of pale and washed out engraving (I imagined it more colorful), I think the best way to reference it is in relation to the appearance of the princess. Otherwise, the setting is very strange–instead of being the only one in the dream, she is surrounded by attendants. I also don’t see the stairs mentioned, and most significantly I can’t find Miriam. Where is she? What is up with that. Dore has lots of other biblical illustrations, including others of Moses, but none include Miriam, unless I just am somehow missing her. Is this a deliberate mistake (oxymoron) on H. D.’s part?

(slightly darker: http://www.creationism.org/images/DoreBibleIllus/bExo0206Dore_TheFindingOfMoses.jpg )



Everett’s CC Assignment A


After being enchanted by Bryher in Borderline, I thought that I would research and report on his* relationship with H.D. from beginning to end, how it evolved, what the complications of it were and finally what its resolution ended up being. It is important to note that, throughout H.D.’s life, she “was attracted to the physical unification of male and female,” as Barbara Guest exemplifies through her seeing the statue of The Hermaphrodite in the Diocletian Gallery for the first time (Guest 51). As we could see from the film, Bryher is probably the closest that H.D. ever found in her own life of a male-female hybrid.

As Guest repots, Bryher “was a boy to herself” (Guest 122). Bryher insisted on being referred to as a “he” and was extremely involved in her father’s business matters. He even spoke to his father about taking over the company, but was told that the business world would never admit a woman—that he would be eaten alive. Though giving up on taking direct control, Bryher still asserted his masculinity in other ways, particularly through his adventure stories that he wrote. As Guest tells us, “there was always a battle and there was always a boy” ready to conquer every obstacle (Guest 115).

These traits must have obviously attracted H.D. for she was drawn to Bryher during the time that when she was first acquainted with him. But it’s not as though there was not tension, as our reading in Asphodel and discussion in class has clearly shown. There initial exchange was just that—“[H.D.] would have to give Bryher the strength to go on living” in order to carry out the plans that they had made with each other and the seemingly stable and happy life that Bryher was offering, both emotionally and financially (Guest 106). And though H.D. did in fact give him the assurance he needed, it was not without realizing “something repellent about this concentrated love that…[made] H.D. both cautious and fearful” (Guest 106).

Perhaps it was the strong admiration of intellect that we witnessed in Bryher and H.D.’s Q and A sessions in Asphodel or perhaps his domineering personality, but in any case, H.D. seemed to have given Bryher reason enough to live and, when she had taken ill, Bryher took action by providing for a nursing home for H.D. while she was in the final stage of her pregnancy with Perdita. After the birth, H.D. and Bryher carried out their travel plans, but not without more strain for Bryher had assumed the role of protector—“A guardian, yet not a housekeeper; Bryher would never content [himself] with a merely passive role” (Guest 118). Bryher insisted on drawing out H.D. as a poetic figure, which Guest describes as his “irritating emphasis on performance” (Guest 118).

After H.D.’s “bell-jar” incident, Bryher understood it as “a pleasurable poetic account” and not the “symptom of depression” it was likely to be (Guest 119). In fact, when the “writing-on-the-wall” episode happened, Bryher was so taken that “like an excited child [he] demanded more” and went so far as to “[take] up where [H.D.] left off,” stating that he “read” the wall himself (Guest 126). None can say whether or not Bryher actually saw anything on the wall and Bryher “did not discuss [the visions] later” (Guest 126). But this intense fixation of Bryher’s was not entirely uncalled for. Guest tells us that “H.D. would use her sexuality…to retain her hold over Bryher,” possibly** without ever being physically attracted to her (Guest 120).  Regardless, this “excessive urge” for control, “to plan every moment of the other person’s day” lasted well into their relationship and was explicitly observed and commented on by Robert McAlmon, a close friend from their later years (Guest 152).

This somewhat distanced H.D. from Bryher emotionally, admitting that she was lonely in a letter to Ezra Pound around 1930 (Guest 201). Though this must be taken with at least one grain of salt, for Pound, as H.D. knew, was no big fan of Bryher and it may be that H.D. “[did] not hesitate to sacrifice Bryher in order to console Pound” (Guest 201). Whether or not H.D. was sweet-talking Pound in that particular correspondence, it is clear that she was unhappy in some ways with Bryher as her sessions with Freud revealed (and, hopefully, as we’ll see in Tribute to Freud). Guest goes so far as to claim that what Freud has done for H.D. was to give her dignity, to restore her confidence in her own writing and escape “the yoke of Imagism. The yoke of perfectionism. The Bryher work yoke” (Guest 218). This will be interesting to look out for in Tribute to Freud to see if it’s evident from H.D.’s own account of it.

After this H.D. has more confidence, as Guest said, and Bryher also matured somewhat, away from what both H.D. in Asphodel and Guest described as his childlike nature. It wasn’t until H.D.’s mental breakdown that Bryher was able to “[prove] [his] mettle and [his] ability to handle a very bad crisis when a woman whom [he] loved appeared to have lost her mind” (Guest 278). And then, in 1960, Bryher proved his love and his maturation once and for all in allowing the confidence that Freud had instilled into H.D. to take full effect, unhindered by Bryher’s motives. H.D. was to take a final trip to New York that year, which Bryher had encouraged, but refused to join her for. Guest seeks to answer the question of why Bryher did not go by saying that “[he] deliberately chose to remove [himself] from the scene; remaining at Kenwin was a conscious act of selflessness on Bryher’s part” (Guest 325). Guest makes it clear that Bryher followed H.D.’s movements in the States and showed genuine love in many of his letters.

I think that knowing more of the complexity of the relationship between the two of them is both elucidating for H.D. as a person and lover, but also (and perhaps more importantly for the class) as a writer and poet. But a word of caution: Guest often takes an authoritative stance on this biographical information, which it is not always clear to me she should take. I think it would have been more prudent of her if she had kept in mind what she says to undermine Brigit Patmore’s biographical testimony in No Tomorrow: “an outsider is never fully acquainted with the intricacies of another’s relationship” (Guest 152-53).

*Throughout this essay I will be referring to Bryher as a “he” for, as Guest makes clear “[Bryher] cautioned H.D., as Gertrude Stein had her friend Alice Toklas, never to refer to her as a ‘she’” (Guest 122). I will be replacing Guest’s pronouns to respect Bryher’s wishes as well.

**Guest claims “probably” (Guest 120).

Bibliography:

Guest, Barbara. Herself Defined: the Poet H.D. and Her World. Garden City, NY:

Doubleday, 1984. Print.



Claire’s CC Assignment C


Opened to the public in 1759, the British Museum is one of the largest free museums in the world. Its exhibits range from African art to Levantine archeology to the famous Elgin Marbles. Since its creation, the Museum has been an important resource, opening its libraries and collections to visiting scholars; however, it has had important artistic benefits as well. Because of its location in the Bloomsbury area of London, it became a haven for the writers and artists who migrated to that neighborhood in the early twentieth century. The large museum and its library (now known as the British Library and housed in a separate location less than a mile away) provided inspiration and research opportunities for modernist authors interested in nationalism, colonial history, and philosophy (Sara Blair 823).

The British Museum began as a glorified storage cabinet. Scientist Sir Hans Sloane stipulated in his will that his vast collection of books, specimens, and antiquities were to be sold and put on public display after his death (Anne Goldgar 199). When the Museum was first established, the prevailing view of the eighteenth century was that ‘high culture’ should be limited to elites (Goldgar 196). Despite this belief, the foundation of the Museum demonstrated an important cultural shift: unlike most private museums that were mostly for royal use, the Museum was a public museum run on public funds (Goldgar 198). Proposals to begin charging admission, partially in order to keep out the lower classes, were consistently defeated in Parliament (Goldgar 213). As the nineteenth century wore on, the Trustees of the Museum welcomed the presence of the lower-classes and the museum had up to 12,000 visitors a year (Goldgar 229). As it entered the twentieth century, the Museum saw its population further diversify as Bloomsbury and the surrounding neighborhoods began to fill with immigrants. The Museum was seen as such an important site to new immigrants that the South Asian London community called the Museum their Mecca (Blair 822).

Then, as today, one of the most popular exhibits was the Elgin Marbles. Though originally housed in the Greek Parthenon, the Marbles have resided in England since 1801. Over the course of 1801 until 1812, Thomas Bruce, the Seventh Lord of Elgin, made trips to Greece to purchase the Marbles in order to expand his collection of antiquities (John Henry Merryman 1882). Elgin took 247 feet of a partially fallen frieze inside the Parthenon; the total length of the frieze was 524 feet (Merryman 1884). The Ottoman Empire controlled Greece at that time and gave Elgin the permission to remove the Marbles from the Parthenon, an action that was in accordance with early nineteenth century law (Merryman 1897). In 1816, Elgin sold the Marbles to the Museum to pay off his debts and the sale was approved by Parliament. Though the ownership of the Marbles is now heavily debated as not only a legal but moral issue, there was limited debate on the subject at the turn of the twentieth century. A 1916 article in the Journal of Hellenic Studies celebrated the acquisition of the Marbles as not only right but a patriotic duty, though the early nineteenth century version of patriotism was to one-up Napoleon in his plunder of the world’s antiquities (Phillip Hunt and A.H. Smith 171). The article, which includes letters and detailed accounts of Elgin’s journeys and spans over two hundred pages, shows that the Marbles had become an important part to the Museum’s history. In Asphodel, it’s clear that H.D. saw the Elgin Marbles as being tied to England and Greece. “I mean seeing the Elgin marbles this morning gave me the same feeling and I didn’t know, don’t know whether I’m in Rome or Paris. I mean the Louvre and the British Museum hold one together, keep one from going to bits.” (H.D. 41). Though the Museum and the Louvre were filled with artifacts from other nations, Hermione sees them as holding the world together.

Though the Greek and Roman antiquities were very popular, the Museum’s collection expanded during the early 1900s. An article written in June 1914 notes new additions to the collection, including German woodcuts (Bowyer Nichols and Campbell Dodgson 164). That the acquisition of German art despite the increased tensions between England and Germany could be a sign that the Museum valued its collection over politics. The early 1900s also saw the collection expand beyond Europe. During that period their collection of East Asian artifacts grew. Laurence Binyon, a modernist poet and friend of Pound and Aldington, was responsible for purchasing the bulk of the Museum’s collection of Japanese prints throughout 1906-1909 (Rupert Richard Arrowsmith 32). Aldington attributed the inspiration for his poem “The River” to the Japanese prints at the Museum (Arrowsmith 33).

Unlike other museums in London, the British Museum was uniquely influential to the early modernists. The scope of its Greek collection gave writers classical inspiration while also allowing them to consider how the artifacts came to be in England. And as the collection moved beyond Greece and into the antiquities of other areas, the Museum gave writers a chance to be exposed to art they might never have encountered before. Most importantly, it was a social destination. The story of H.D.’s ‘creation’ didn’t take place in the Elgin Marbles room; it was in the Museum café. Given its location in Bloomsbury, the Museum became a meeting place for the writers who inhabited the area. During the early twentieth century, the British Museum was a place to see classical sculptures, explore new exhibits, and mix with fellow Londoners in a museum that was seen as theirs.

Works Cited

Blair, Sara. “Local Modernity, Global Modernism: Bloomsbury and the Places Of the Literary.” Elh 71.3 (2004) : 813-838. Print.

Goldgar, Anne. “The British Museum and the Virtual Representation Of Culture In the Eighteenth Century.” Albion: A Quarterly Journal Concerned With British Studies 32.2 (2000) : 195-231. Web. 25 Mar 2011.

H.D. Asphodel. Durham: Duke University Press, 1992. Print.

Hunt, Philip, and A. H. Smith. “Lord Elgin and His Collection.” The Journal Of Hellenic Studies 36 (1916) : 163-372. Web. 25 Mar 2011.

Merryman, John Henry. “Thinking about the Elgin Marbles.” Michigan Law Review 83.8 (1985) : 1881-1923. Web. 25 Mar 2011.

Nichols, Bowyer, and Campbell Dodgson. “The New Print Gallery, the British Museum.” The Burlington Magazine For Connoisseurs 25.135 (1914) : 163-170. Print.

[Bonus/Bragging rights! Last summer, I worked at the British Museum in the Ancient Near East Department. The majority of that department’s artifacts were added during the Great War and the 1920s and its library was built during that time period. Since H.D. mentions the Phoenicians sometimes, I thought you would appreciate a picture from the Ancient Near East library. Unfortunately, I don’t have pictures of the Greek and Roman Department’s library. Just imagine the Trinkle Study Room; it looked a lot like that.

The first floor is cuneiform tablets; the second and third floors were all books. There were also some old-school spiral staircases in the back (horribly lit) corners of the library that I almost killed myself on several times.]



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