H.D. Blog 12: "the sand-heap maze"

(a collage from H.D’s scrapbook)

One of the most interesting formal elements in the Trilogy is how often the tone changes from section to section. It shifts from philosophical, ecstatic, pedagogic, hopeful, dejected, argumenatative, imagistic, just to name a few. Section [14] is closest to dejected:

Yet we, the latter-day twice-born,
have our bad moments when

dragging the forlorn
husk of self after us,

we are forced to confess to
malaise and embarrassment;

we pull at this dead shell

awkwardly, we drag this stale
old will, old volition, old habit

about with us;
we are these people,

wistful, ironical, wilful,
who have no part in

new-world reconstruction,
in the confederacy of labour,

the practical issues of art
and the cataloguing of utilities:

O, do not look up
into the air,

you are occupied
in the bewildering

sand-heap maze
of present-day endeavour;

you will be, not so much frightened
as paralyzed with inaction,

and anyhow,
we have not crawled so very far

up our individual grass-blade
toward our individual star.

I’ve always found the phrase “confederacy of labour” odd. After googling it, I came across an article about Trade Unionism and the establishment of a confederacy of labour to create better working conditions and fairer wages, etc. But the article was from 1914, so I won’t quote it here. After the “Radium Girls” reference, I am wondering if anyone knows whether or not H.D. was involved in labor issues?


One thought on “H.D. Blog 12: "the sand-heap maze"

  1. craig, your posts on h.d. have led me to buy her collected works instead of just sea garden. trilogy sounds great, and because i’m more a prose than poetry person (as you can tell from my blogs), i’m glad to be reading your posts on it because they model a “good” example of how to read poetry. so thanks!

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