Study Guide

Heat Language and Communication

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Language and Communication

H.D. and her Imagist pals were all about getting more for less. Their poems are short, concise, and effective, and the best ones create really visceral images whose power often seems disproportionate to their size. For the Imagists, good things come in little (word) boxes. Not surprisingly, then, language itself is often a theme in Imagist poems. In "Heat," we can't help but think about the power (or even the powerlessness) of language, as the whole poem is an apostrophe—an address spoken to an absent other (in this case, the wind). How effective can language be, the poem asks? Can our words change the world? Does the wind—does anyone, really—hear us when we speak? Hello?

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. What is the effect of the fact that the poem is an apostrophe? How does this mode of address affect your interpretation of the poem? 
  2. Does the apostrophe make the poem seem silly to you? Is it pointless to yell at the wind? 
  3. Do the speaker's words give you hope? Do you feel like the wind is on its way? Or does the speaker's language seem to fail?

Chew on This

"Heat" is about the pointlessness of language. Words are never gonna change the weather.

"Heat" is about the power of language. H.D.'s images are so strong that we can feel the wind ploughing through the heat. Whoosh!

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