Click this photo to read Jesus Crisis' blog about Hilda Doolittle (includes two more poems)
H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) in the 1910s

(for E.A. Poe)  
[from Hymen (1921)]

Egypt had cheated us,
for Egypt took
through guile and craft
our treasure and our hope,
Egypt had maimed us,
offered dream for life,
an opiate for a kiss,
and death for both.

White poison flower we loved
and the black spike
of an ungarnered bush–
(a spice–or without taste–
we wondered–then we asked
others to take and sip
and watched their death)
Egypt we loved, though hate
should have withheld our touch.

Egypt had given us knowledge,
and we took, blindly,
through want of heart,
what Egypt brought;
knowing all poison,
what was that or this,
more or less perilous,
than this or that.

We pray you, Egypt,
by what perverse fate,
has poison brought with knowledge,
given us this–
not days of trance,
shadow, fore-doom of death,
but passionate grave thought,
belief enhanced,
ritual returned and magic;

Even in the uttermost black pit
of the forbidden knowledge,
wisdom’s glance,
the grey eyes following
in the mid-most desert–
great shaft of rose,
fire shed across our path,
upon the face grown grey, a light,
Hellas re-born from death.

* * *

[originally appeared in H.D.’s Hymen, published in 1921 by The Egoist Press (London)]

To see an index of other H.D. works in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library, click:

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