So, this is a long one, but a favorite I discovered in college. It seems appropriate for spring.
H.D. (her actual name is Hilda Doolittle, so you can see why she’d go by H.D.) studied Greek literature briefly, and I think you can see the influence in her poetry. Not just in the subjects she chooses, but in her imagery and the way she uses language. As someone who took several semesters of Ancient Greek in college, her poems sometimes read like one of the translations I would do–a kind of awkward English that tries to preserve the peculiar forms of a dead language.
She spent a lot of time hanging out with Ezra Pound, but I’m not so much interested in that. This poem appealed to me in my 20s because I spent a lot of time pissed off and in romantic relationships that were all about the drama. You remember those? The kind where you really thought you might die if the other person stopped loving you? But the possibility that they would stop loving you also made it so, so exciting? I get kind of queasy just thinking about it.
What I like about Eurydice is that she decides in the end that she doesn’t need Orpheus. The last stanza is a much more elegant way of saying, “Fuck you, dick.” Doesn’t “hell must open like a red rose for the dead to pass” sound better?
BY H. D.