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Hilda Doolittle, known to the poetry world as "H.D.," was one of the founders of the poetry movement called Imagism. Imagist poets were all about, well, images. They aimed to write clear, concise poems that reflected the world truthfully. The Imagists hated fancy forms of poetry. They eschewed rhyme schemes and meter. They wanted clarity and directness. They wanted images of the world.
H.D. (1886-1961) was at the center of the Imagist movement, which began around 1912. Some people argue (and we at Shmoop agree) that H.D. was in fact the purest, most Imagist-y of all the Imagist poets. Her poems are short and clear. They use simple language that gets right to the heart of whatever she's writing about—whether she's taking on flowers, Helen of Troy, the first World War, or the weather.
H.D. has been a bit overshadowed in literary history by her Imagist friends (and her Imagist lovers: we're looking at you, Ezra Pound). H.D. was ahead of her time in many ways, and, if you ask us, she lead a pretty fabulous life. She was a big feminist and supporter of women's rights, she was an open bisexual, she was involved in the early film industry, and was a patient of Sigmund Freud. H.D. may have been marginalized in her time, but in the past thirty years, there has been a resurgence of interest in this awesome poet.
Read the short and intense "Heat," and you'll understand why. Published in 1915 in that premier magazine with the simple title, Poetry, it was originally the second part of a longer poem "Garden" (read it here). However you find it, though, the intense, descriptive, but accessible language of "Heat" is guaranteed to get you hot under the collar.
Ever suffer through one of those late-August sweltering summer days? When the air is thick with humidity and it seems like even your fingernails are sweating? When your hair is an uncontrollable frizzy mess, and your ice pop is half-melted before you even get your first lick?
H.D.'s "Heat" takes on one of those miserable summer days when you'd just kill for an air-conditioner. The poem is, in fact, addressed to the mother of all air-conditioners, the wind. The poem begs, pleads with the wind for some cool breeze to cut through the thick humid air of summer, and we are right there with H.D. We've all suffered through days like this. We feel her pain.
And at the rate that global warming is going, we're going to suffer through a whole lot more sticky days. Read H.D.'s "Heat" and weep for your future. Or read it and learn some strategies for keeping cool.
And hey, don't forget to recycle, kiddos. Every little bit helps. Not every day has to be a "Heat" day.
Everything you ever wanted to know about H.D.
(We're not kidding.)
The skinny on Imagism
Get the deets here!
Some H.D. poems
Check out some pretty neat readings, including "Heat."
A reading of H.D.'s "Garden"
"Heat" beings midway through!
Check out H.D.'s voice…
…as she reads her poem "Helen in Egypt."
Here's another audio version.
She was a cutie (if serious) patootie!
Here's a haunting, elegant pic.
Modern American Poetry on H.D.
Read a whole bunch of people saying a whole bunch of smart things about H.D.
H.D.'s Collected Poems
For all you hardcore H.D. lovers out there, check out her collected poems.
Read H.D.'s book online for free.
Imagist Poetry: An Anthology
Check out this book and see what the fuss about Imagism is all about.
Hilda's in the movies!
Check out her long-lost silent film about interracial relationships.