Sep 01

Sheltered Garden, by H. D.

I took only one poetry class in college, but during that time, I was introduced to the poems of H. D. (Hilda Doolittle)  and have loved them ever since. I associate them with gardens and seascapes, and pine trees bending in the wind.

A bit about her: Doolittle was born on September 10, 1886 in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. She attended Bryn Mawr College and, later, the University of Pennsylvania, where she met William Carlos Williams and spent time with Ezra Pound, among other poets. Doolittle traveled to Europe in 1911 and remained abroad for the rest of her life. She died on September 21, 1961, and was later buried in Bethlehem, PA, near family.

H. D. is often identified with imagist poetry, though she eventually grew beyond this movement. She is also considered a modernist and metaphysical poet, and feminist themes run throughout her writings. She completed novels and non-fiction works in addition to poetry and received various awards for her writing, including the Gold Medal from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the Brandeis Award and the Longview Award.

This poem is a favorite; it speaks to me:

Image via Unsplash/Benjamin

Sheltered Garden

I have had enough.
I gasp for breath.

Every way ends, every road,
every foot-path leads at last
to the hill-crest—
then you retrace your steps,
or find the same slope on the other side,

I have had enough—
border-pinks, clove-pinks, wax-lilies,
herbs, sweet-cress.

O for some sharp swish of a branch—
there is no scent of resin
in this place,
no taste of bark, of coarse weeds,
aromatic, astringent—
only border on border of scented pinks.

Have you seen fruit under cover
that wanted light—
pears wadded in cloth,
protected from the frost,
melons, almost ripe,
smothered in straw?

Why not let the pears cling
to the empty branch?
All your coaxing will only make
a bitter fruit—
let them cling, ripen of themselves,
test their own worth,
nipped, shrivelled by the frost,
to fall at last but fair
With a russet coat.

Or the melon—
let it bleach yellow
in the winter light,
even tart to the taste—
it is better to taste of frost—
the exquisite frost—
than of wadding and of dead grass.

For this beauty,
beauty without strength,
chokes out life.
I want wind to break,
scatter these pink-stalks,
snap off their spiced heads,
fling them about with dead leaves—
spread the paths with twigs,
limbs broken off,
trail great pine branches,
hurled from some far wood
right across the melon-patch,
break pear and quince—
leave half-trees, torn, twisted
but showing the fight was valiant.

O to blot out this garden
to forget, to find a new beauty
in some terrible
wind-tortured place.

     ~ from Sea Garden, 1916


Thank you for reading. I hope you felt something special this Feels Friday.


Sources and recommended reading:


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  1. Thanks for taking me to a new thinking.

    1. Thank you, Kathleen! I’m so glad you enjoyed the poem and I appreciate your comment! Thanks for reading! 🙂

    • Colleen P on September 1, 2017 at 1:29 pm
    • Reply


  2. Lovely poem, I had never read anything by her. I felt something… even though I read it on Sunday, not Friday.

    1. No worries! Sunday feels are just as good. I find myself coming back to this one again and again. Glad you enjoyed it and hope you had a great time with your dragons!

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