The Mnemosyne Monthly: Poem Forty-Two (Doolittle)

H.D. (Hilda Doolittle)
As noted last week, The Mnemosyne Weekly has now become The Mnemosyne Monthly, and we’re moving right along to the forty-second poem. What a joy it’s been to carry these poems around through my days, pulling them deeper and deeper into my being until they reside among the internal resources I can call on for wisdom and beauty. With the new monthly format, I’m looking forward to even greater intimacy with the poems.
This week’s poet, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) was recommended to me by my friend R Jeffreys of The Write Step. I’ve been somewhat familiar with H.D.’s work in anthologies, but this past weekend I sat down and read my first full H.D. collection, the salty, blossoming Sea Garden, from which I selected this beautiful poem, “Orchard.”


By H. D.

I saw the first pear

As it fell —

The honey-seeking, golden-banded,

The yellow swarm

Was not more fleet than I,

(Spare us from loveliness)

And I fell prostrate


You have flayed us

With your blossoms,

Spare us the beauty

Of fruit-trees.

The honey-seeking

Paused not,

The air thundered their song,

And I alone was prostrate.

O rough-hewn

God of the orchard,

I bring you an offering —

Do you, alone unbeautiful,

Son of the god,

Spare us from loveliness:

These fallen hazel-nuts,

Stripped late of their green sheaths,

Grapes, red-purple,

Their berries

Dripping with wine,

Pomegranates already broken,

And shrunken figs

And quinces untouched,

I bring you as offering.

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