Form and Content

(Masterpieces of Women's Literature)

Trilogy brings together in one poetic sequence three volumes of poems, The Walls Do Not Fall (1944), Tribute to the Angels (1945), and The Flowering of the Rod (1946). Each of the three volumes in turn consists of forty-three numbered poems.

The poems of The Walls Do Not Fall were written during World War II while the bombs fell on London: “but when the shingles hissed// in the rain of incendiary,/ other values were revealed to us,// other standards hallowed us.” They are war poems, but the war in question is not only World War II but also the war of the biblical book Revelation—apocalyptic war when that which has been hidden is revealed: “over us, Apocryphal fire,/ under us, the earth sway, dip of a floor.” The Walls Do Not Fall is also about Egypt, and specifically Karnak, which H. D. had visited with her companion Winifred Ellerman, known by the pen name Bryher. The tombs of the Egyptian dead opened to the air by archaeology resemble the rooms sliced open in London by German bombs: “we pass on// to another cellar, to another sliced wall/ where poor utensils show/ like rare objects in a museum.” Still the walls do not fall. Visionary experiences, a kind of ecstasy in the heart of wartime London, and the uncovering and assimilation of memories thread through the poems of this sequence until, at the last, some hope of reaching safe “haven, heaven” can be found.

H. D. called Tribute to the Angels a...

(The entire section is 615 words.)