The Gift

In sharp contrast to the relatively dormant years of the 1930s, the 1940s would prove to be an astoundingly prolific period for H.D. She lived in London during the Blitz, and as the bombs fell around her, she explored her past—including, most especially, her Moravian heritage—with a new intensity and directness. In addition to “Writing on the Wall,” she also produced The Gift (written 1941-1943), a memoir of her childhood in Bethlehem, and her modernist long poem Trilogy (also on display). Though H.D. returned to the United States only rarely for visits, this book and its inscription reveal the frequency with which she returned to Bethlehem in her thoughts and her writing. The Gift also demonstrates H.D.’s deepening fascination with Moravian history and with understanding the degree to which it influenced her own development as a writer and a woman. The gift, as H.D. presents it, is a lost gift of vision, at once spiritual and artistic, that carries with it the promise of peace. For H.D., the question is whether she herself, writing with urgency from the midst of a war-torn city, could restore this gift possessed by her Moravian ancestors.