Are there elements of homosexuality in H. D's poem "Oread"? How are they expressed?

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lfawley eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The poem can definitely be read as a love poem, a request to the sea to blanket two lovers. The imagery is tight, but active, Whirl and Splash are strong verbs and suggest a tempestuous image that critics have called climactic even in its short verse. Hurl is aggressive, violent, while cover denotes security, secrecy, and the act of covering one's lover's body. The mood of the poem can be viewed as suggestive of coupling, and as one critic notes, the lines "have a movement of breathless crescendo, or rather of repeated climax, suggestive of the surging of sea and forest alike" (Jackson, 2009).

Now, to the question of whether or not this image is "homosexual" in nature, we must first consider Doolittle's own sexuality. She was an openly bisexual poet during the modernist period. A colleague and friend of T.S. Elliot and William Carlos Williams as well as lover to both Ezra Pound and a woman by the name of Josepha Gregg (for whom many of her poems were written) and another woman, heiress Winnifred Ellerman. She was psychoanalyzed by Freud who labeled her bisexual in an era when Freudian themes were as prevalent as the theories of Marx and Neitszche in literature. As Oread was written in 1915, this would have been after her relationship with Gregg or 1911, it is possible this poem relates to homosexual love, but it could equally relate to heterosexual love.