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About this Poem 

"At sixteen, I stopped feeling ashamed of desiring men but dealing with a public queer identity—navigating a world that told me if I wasn’t invisible I wasn’t wanted—stressed me. Then and now, I loved media written by or about women—safe havens for the femme self I was shamed into hiding. I felt kinship with women whose inner lives were ignored or denigrated. H. D.’s book Sea Garden was one such work. Because my queerness was private and hypothetical (I hadn’t so much as kissed a boy at the time) my sexuality was profoundly interior. Sea Garden reminded me of Florida, the patch of beach where I listened to Mariah Carey and imagined a life without worry. Unafraid of traditionally feminine images—flowers, the sea—H. D.’s luscious and acrid, florid and bitter, god-haunted landscapes—erotic, psychological, and spiritual—inspired me. In H. D.’s poem ‘Orchard,’ the prostrate speaker entreats a god’s absent son to spare him from loveliness. Isn’t this an endlessly queer dilemma—to love and loathe one’s desire? I knew those rituals from my own fantasies beckoning some big, god of a man to have his way with my body, yet stay, stay tender, leave me—so that I may call him again—loved, sore, alive."
Derrick Austin

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Orchard

H. D., 1886 - 1961


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	
crying:	
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.

This poem is in the public domain.

This poem is in the public domain.

H. D.

H. D.

Born in 1886, Hilda Doolittle was one of the leaders of the Imagist movement.

by this poet

poem
O wind, rend open the heat,
cut apart the heat,
rend it to tatters.

Fruit cannot drop
through this thick air--
fruit cannot fall into heat
that presses up and blunts
the points of pears
and rounds the grapes.

Cut the heat--
plough through it,
turning it on either side
of your path.
poem

What do I care
that the stream is trampled,
the sand on the stream-bank
still holds the print of your foot:
the heel is cut deep.
I see another mark
on the grass ridge of the bank—
it points toward the wood-path.
I have lost the third
in the packed earth.

But here

poem

Let her who walks in Paphos
take the glass,
let Paphos take the mirror
and the work of frosted fruit,
gold apples set
with silver apple-leaf,
white leaf of silver
wrought with vein of gilt.

Let Paphos lift the mirror;
let her look
into the polished center of