Sarah Avery (dr_pretentious) wrote,
Sarah Avery

A Love Story

Happy Blog Against Heteronormativity Day!

And since, as matociquala points out, this occasion meshes nicely with National Poetry Month, here's a bit of verse by H.D., the poet I wrote my dissertation about. She wrote this for the woman who was her partner from 1918 until H.D.'s death in 1961. (What does H.D. stand for? Hilda Doolittle, and you'd publish under your initials, too, if your name were Hilda Doolittle. Also, it didn't hurt in her efforts to establish a writing career to have a handle that did not advertise her gender. Her partner, who had the awkward distinction of being the richest heiress in England, chose to go by the name of Bryher--and you'd publish under a pseudonym, too, if you had a name like Winifred Ellerman. Hilda and Winifred, H.D. and Bryher. Whatever. They're my girls.)

This is the dedication of the first book H.D. wrote after she and Bryher got together. In the space of a year, in 1918, H.D. lost her marriage (shell-shocked husband behaving badly after two years in the trenches), her brother (died in the trenches), her father (heart attack on receiving news of the brother's death), her reputation (when she fled her collapsing marriage with another man), and, very nearly, her own life and the life of her daughter (influenza epidemic plus third trimester of pregnancy). That was one hell of a year. H.D. and her child survived it because Bryher was determined to see them live, and for no other reason.

This is one moment of H.D.'s long gratitude.

They said:
she is high and far and blind
in her high pride,
but now that my head is bowed
in sorrow, I find
she is most kind.

We have taken life, they said,
blithely, not groped in a mist
for things that are not--
are if you will, but bloodless--
why ask happiness of the dead?
and my heart bled.

Ah, could they know
how violets throw strange fire,
red and purple and gold,
how they glow
gold and purple and red
where her feet tread.

Go forth and celebrate Blog Against Heteronormativity Day. Love is grand. Love saves the day. Love is love.
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