(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

In The Walls Do Not Fall, the walls are those of Karnak and London, physically, and the walls of that view of life which was under attack by Adolf Hitler. Yet they are also H. D.’s own walls—the walls of what she calls “our own house of life,” in which “outer violence” touches “the deepest hidden subconscious terrors.” If Karnak is London, then the Egyptian scribes and their gods are also present in London: H. D. herself is scribe, visionary, and poet, and the gods are her protectors, the protectors of poetry and vision. As H. D. suggests in a letter to her friend Norman Holmes Pearson, “Protection for the scribe seems to be the leit-motif. And the feeling of assurance back of it, of the presence of the God of the Scribe.”

The angels in Tribute to the Angels, as a hint in the twenty-fourth poem suggests (“Every hour, every moment/ has its specific attendant Spirit”), can be read as the different Angels of the Hours venerated during H. D.’s Moravian childhood. They are also the angels she helped her friend Gustav Davidson research for Dictionary of Angels. Again, they are the angels of Revelation, of John Milton’s Paradise Lost (1667, 1674) and the literary tradition of which she is a part. Finally, they are the men she termed “initiators” in her life, from Ezra Pound (“Azrael”) on. Likewise the Mary of her vision is herself. This is implicit in the reference to Mary as Santa Sophia, Holy Wisdom (that is, poetic inspiration) in the thirty-sixth poem and explicit in the statement that she is Psyche (that is, the soul) in the thirty-eighth poem. So “her book is our book,” the book of a feminine wisdom yet to be written.

The theme of The Flowering of the Rod is introduced in Tribute to the...

(The entire section is 737 words.)