Imagist Poems

Hilda Doolittle first gained recognition on the London literary scene for her Imagist poems. Before her move to London in 1911, Hilda met—and briefly became engaged to—Ezra Pound. She also attended Bryn Mawr College for three terms, where she met fellow poets William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore. Once in London and no longer engaged to Pound, she worked closely with him and her future husband, Richard Aldington, to launch the avant-garde Imagist movement. In 1912, Hilda Doolittle became H.D. when Pound submitted her work to Poetry and changed her signature to “H.D. Imagiste.” Often regarded as the best of the Imagists, her inclusion in Amy Lowell’s 1915 Some Imagist Poets: An Anthology (displayed here in its reprinted version) confirms H.D.’s importance to the movement. The introduction defines six qualities of Imagism, including a commitment “to produce poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor indefinite.” Imagist poetry embraced the principle of impersonality that typified early modernist writing, but scholars such as Susan Stanford Friedman, Diana Collecott, and Annette Debo have identified the personal history behind H.D.’s impersonal images. According to H.D., the rocks, rivers and gardens that occupy her Imagist poems were inspired by her Pennsylvania upbringing.