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

The Cliff Temple
[from Sea Garden, 1916]


Great, bright portal,

shelf of rock,

rocks fitted in long ledges,

rocks fitted to dark, to silver granite,

to lighter rock—

clean cut, white against white.

High—high—and no hill-goat

tramples—no mountain-sheep

has set foot on your fine grass;

you lift, you are the-world-edge,

pillar for the sky-arch.

The world heaved—

we are next to the sky:

over us, sea-hawks shout,

gulls sweep past—

the terrible breakers are silent

from this place.

Below us, on the rock-edge,

where earth is caught in the fissures

of the jagged cliff,

a small tree stiffens in the gale,

it bends—but its white flowers

are fragrant at this height.

And under and under,

the wind booms:

it whistles, it thunders,

it growls—it presses the grass

beneath its great feet.


I said:

for ever and for ever, must I follow you

through the stones?

I catch at you—you lurch:

you are quicker than my hand-grasp.

I wondered at you.

I shouted—dear—mysterious—beautiful—

white myrtle-flesh.

I was splintered and torn:

the hill-path mounted

swifter than my feet.

Could a daemon avenge this hurt,

I would cry to him—could a ghost,

I would shout—O evil,

follow this god,

taunt him with his evil and his vice.


Shall I hurl myself from here,

shall I leap and be nearer you?

Shall I drop, beloved, beloved,

ankle against ankle?

Would you pity me, O white breast?

If I woke, would you pity me,

would our eyes meet?

Have you heard,

do you know how I climbed this rock?

My breath caught, I lurched forward—

I stumbled in the ground-myrtle.

Have you heard, O god seated on the cliff,

how far toward the ledges of your house,

how far I had to walk?


Over me the wind swirls.

I have stood on your portal

and I know—

you are further than this,

still further on another cliff.

* * *

To read other H.D. works in the Crisis Chronicles Online Library, click here.

We also recommend these volumes from Amazon: