Date of Award
Master of Arts
Amy Billone, Ben Lee
Although both H. D. and Marianne Moore created distinctive voices, we cannot ignore their close relationship with poetic modernism. These two poets had common characteristics which were fit for the ideas of modernism, such as exact descriptions, clear images, concision, objectivity, and repression of personal emotions. H. D.’s poems were regarded as an ideal model of Imagism, and Moore generally tried to follow the style although her poems contained her own unique features. Their choice of the modernistic hard style caused them to face complicated situations because of their gender. Both poets had affinities with Romantic aesthetics such as excessive effusion of emotions and indulgence in soft beauty, but they discarded these qualities which tended to be despised as feminine by many male modernists.
From the end of the period of Imagism these two female began to write less condensed poems and to express tremendous energy which breaks from the confines of compact poetry of Imagism. Their adoption of more effusive and loose style was related to the restoration of the elements which had been discarded as feminine. H. D. frequently employed female characters’ voice to express women’s emotion, and foregrounded the decadent beauty which many male modernist poets decided to discard because it appeared feminine. Moore presented women’s point of view of patriarchy in her longest poem, “Marriage.” She also presented decadent beauty, and described beauty of flowers which are commonly assumed to be feminine.
These two poets’ images of literally hard objects like crystal and ice reflect their belief in the modernistic tight and condensed style. Even after the period of Imagism, these poets emphasized “crystalline” images. The “crystalline” objects in H. D.’s poems suggest that her claim that her poems contain fiery passion under the cold and hard surface. Moore’s “crystalline” image of “an octopus of ice” is different from H. D.’s images in that Moore’s volcano like an octopus is pliable and slippery as well as hard and static. This quality of the octopus suggests that Moore apparently accepts the modernistic hard style but at the same time she explores her own style flexibly.
Ueno, Yoko, "A Comparison of H. D. and Marianne Moore’s poetry in the 1910s and 1920s. " Master's Thesis, University of Tennessee, 2012.