All of "Oread" is written as a command, which is a strange and unexpected way to write a poem. Who wants to feel like they're being told what to do while reading a poem? Luckily, we never feel under attack when reading "Oread," because the nymph is too busy bossing the sea to bother with us. And us? We're just marveling at Oread's skill with words. She's commanding the sea to whirl up and meet the land, and whether or not this actually happens, she's making it happen in words—her awesome images are created out of nothing but language. Words are more powerful than either the land or the sea in "Oread." And that's what makes our Oread such a butt-kicking nymph.
Questions About Language and Communication
- If the poem weren't written as an imperative, how else might it be written? How would this change how you read the poem?
- Since the whole poem is written in the voice of the Oread, can we say that the whole thing happens in her head? That all we have in the poem is language?
- When we discuss the poem, should we refer to the Oread's language? Or H.D.'s language? What is at stake in this decision?
Chew on This
"Oread" isn't about the land or the sea at all. It's all about language.
"Oread" is about our place in the natural world. You're reading way too much into it if you think that the whole poem is a way of expressing the power of words.