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karaejacobi eNotes educator| Certified Educator

The tone of H.D.'s poem "Huntress" is confident and aggressive, as one might expect of a poem narrated by a speaker who is on the hunt. The huntress describes the quick pace of the hunt and uses vivid imagery to illustrate the huntresses (there seem to be more than one of them, since the speaker uses the first person plural pronouns "we" and "us"). The poem opens with the huntress inviting an unknown subject to join the hunt. She writes,

Come, blunt your spear with us,
our pace is hot
and our bare heels
in the heel-prints—
we stand tense—do you see—
are you already beaten
by the chase? (1-7)

The huntress explains that the "pace is hot" and that they "stand tense." These phrases depict the typical actions of a hunter: they must chase their prey and they must sometimes wait quietly and observe. The huntress asks the invited party whether or not he or she can keep up: "are you already beaten / by the chase?" 

The next two stanzas confidently detail the actions of the huntress's party. They "lead the pace" (8), which shows that they are experienced and self-assured. Their "feet cut into the crust [of the earth] / as with spears" (13-14). This is a somewhat violent image that likens the huntresses' feet to a weapon. They also "broke the clod with [their] heels" in a similar image in line 17. Next, the speaker addresses a series of questions to the unknown subject, basically asking whether that subject will be able to stay on the level of the other huntresses. 

Finally, in the last stanza, the speaker writes,

Spring up—sway forward—
follow the quickest one,
aye, though you leave the trail
and drop exhausted at our feet. (24-27)

The speaker tells the subject to "follow the quickest one" and try to keep up with their pace, but imagines the subject will "drop exhausted at [their] feet." The huntress is confident in her abilities, and though she is welcoming another to join her party, she also feels that her skills are probably superior to this mysterious subject. 


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H. D.

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