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As in many of H.D.'s poems, voice, action, and objects here are treated as equal elements in a system, rather than as subordinate in syntactic or philosophical relation to one another. The oread, a nymph of the forest, demands of the sea an action which rises in crescendo from "whirl" to "splash" to "hurl," then settles into senescence with "cover." It is sexual, suicidal, and it connects the speaker to the sea in an intense, intimate manner.

The remaining images of the poem--the waves, the rocks, the pines--interact diaphorically with voice and action, superimposing one upon the other, creating ambiguity. The great pointed pines of the forest, for example, in a violent transference beyond simple juxtaposition, become the crashing waves of the sea; the "green . . . pools of fir" raise conflicting associations of warmth and coolness, safety and peril, life and death. "Our" and "us" are cloudy referents which both tighten and obscure relationships: the sea and the oread? The pines and the nymph? The speaker and some unnamed other? all of these? We read again, trying to feel our way through the poem, trying out combinations of terms--just as we must do with the work of Dickinson and Moore.


From Shakespeare’s Sisters: Feminist Essay on Women Poets. Ed. Sandra M. Gilbert and Susan Gubar. Copyright © 1979 by Indiana University Press.