Apr. 14th, 2015

sea garden

Apr. 14th, 2015 10:24 am
tekuates: (liberty/justice)
The problem with writing an essay about H.D.'s Sea Garden is that I love it too much. Every time I write about it, I have to reread it, and I get entirely caught up in the weird, disturbing, creepy stuff that's happening. And the way it starts out with a poem about a rose that's all messed up and broken, and you read and and are like huh, okay and then the second poem is "The Helmsman" and it just catapults into weirdness. And you keep reading, getting more and more of the picture, still kind of confused about what is happening but sure that it's something majorly fucked up. Things just feel wrong, like something is seriously off, and you never really get the whole story. I love it wildly. I remember feeling this way about T.S. Eliot when I was around fifteen and had just legitimately started reading him (not counting Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, which I read many times as a child), except T.S. Eliot is overtly surreal and gorgeous, and Sea Garden is the kind of thing that creeps up on you.

Anyway, here is "The Helmsman" for your reading enjoyment, which is not my favorite poem only because choosing a favorite from this collection is impossible for me.

O be swift-
we have always known you wanted us.

We fled inland with our flocks,
we pastured them in hollows,
cut off from the wind
and the salt track of the marsh.

We worshipped inland-
we stapped past wood-flowers,
we forgot your tang,
we brushed wood-grass.

We wandered from pine-hills
through oak and scrub-oak tangles,
we broke hyssop and bramble,
we caught flower and new bramble-fruit
in our hair: we laughed
as each branch whipped back,
we tor our feet in half buried rocks
and knotted roots and acorn-cups.

We forgot - we worshipped,
we parted green from green,
we sought further thickets,
we dipped our ankles
through leaf-mould and earth,
and wood and wood-bank enchanted us-

and the feel of the clefts in the bark,
and the slope between tree and tree-
and a slender path strung field to field
and wood to wood
and hill to hill
and the forest after it.

We forgot- for a moment
tree-resin, tree-bark,
sweat of a torn branch
were sweet to the taste.

We were enchanted with the fields,
the tufts of coarse grass
in the shorter grass-
we loved all this.

But now, our boat climbs- hestitates- drops-
climbs- hesitates- crawls back-
climbs- hesitates-
O be swift-
we have always known you wanted us.

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