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.



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