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.



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