Article Index

 

 

MLA 2017 

 

 

 

 

H.D., BRYHER AND POUND: THE PRIMAL SCENE OF MODERNIST MONEY

Susan McCabe, University of Southern California

 

INTERVIEWER

Does your particular interest in coinage start from your father’s work at the mint?

POUND

You can go on for a long time on that. The government offices were more informal then, though I don’t know that any other kids got in and visited. Now the visitors are taken through glass tunnels and see things from a distance, but you could then be taken around in the smelting room and see the gold piled up in the safe. You were offered a large bag of gold and told you could have it if you could take it away with you. You couldn’t lift it.

When the Democrats finally came back in, they recounted all the silver dollars, four million dollars in silver. All the bags had rotted in these enormous vaults, and they were heaving it into the counting machines with shovels bigger than coal shovels. This spectacle of coin being shoveled around like it was litter—these fellows naked to the waist shoveling it around in the gas flares—things like that strike your imagination.

Then there’s the whole technique of making metallic money. First, the testing of the silver is much more tricky than testing gold. Gold is simple. It is weighed, then refined and weighed again. You can tell the grade of the ore by the relative weights. But the test for silver is a cloudy solution; the accuracy of the eye in measuring the thickness of the cloud is an aesthetic perception, like the critical sense. I like the idea of the fineness of the metal, and it moves by analogy to the habit of testing verbal manifestations. At that time, you see, gold bricks, and specimens of iron pyrites mistaken for gold, were brought up to Dad’s office. You heard the talk about the last guy who brought a gold brick and it turned out to be fool’s gold.

from “Interview” by Donald Hall, Paris Review 28 (Summer-Fall 1962).

 

Ezra Pound’s answer to Donald Hall’s interview question about money leads to a response that reveals a “primal scene,” though Pound would recoil at this attempt to apply psychology to him.  The scene was entirely male, with men naked to the waist, hefting huge sacks of rotting silver into the fire: coinage was reborn.  Pound’s ideas about money turned into trouble, particularly when he confused Jeffersonian ideas with Mussolini’s.  To say that the cosmopolitan Pound gained his most ingrained “visions” from his father’s work at the Mint might not be going too far: after all his father’s name was Homer, and he weighed and fathomed silver’s “cloudy solution,” refining it until it became manifest.  Alec Marsh’s Money and Modernity unfolds the diametric principles debated during the period of Pound’s appearance on the scene of modernism. Broadly speaking, Pound favored Jeffersonian principles to those of Hamilton: the former he linked with use as value, with the male freeholder who should, by all rights, reap what he sowed. Value rose from the soil, out of labor. But Pound was a poet, who, excepting the troubadour Pound, would be able to judge the “use” or “value” of a poem; he admitted, for starters, very few women into his canon—H.D., Marianne Moore, Mina Loy rose to his expectations in varying degrees; Bryher, as writer, heiress and lover of his old flame H.D., counted as nil. He famously supported and helped his friends, other “great men”: Eliot, Joyce, Aiken, Zukofsky, Cournos, Hemingway, and others. 

The space limits of this paper won’t allow for a presentation of the full spectrum of the complex relationship to money among the trio, H.D., Bryher and Pound, after the two women formed in 1919 their own alternate ménage, supplemented by H.D.’s illegitimate infant, Perdita, whom Bryher (born Annie Winifred Ellerman) took under her wing, taking charge of her care and education so H.D. could focus on her poetry.  Pound’s presence in the trio was a “negative” one, or rather, a foil to their queer liaison—as well as their joined vision of the artistic process as one of collaboration, exchange, and a more communitarian view of poetry. Necessarily, H.D and Bryher had different, complementary, relationships to money, but both met in their ultimate calling for a “gift economy” that would challenge Pound’s notion that money should not be regulated by the government, that its values should not be tied to a fluctuating Market.  

Pound’s Jeffersonian fervor led him, after twists and turns, to anti-Semitism, given the fact that he believed that there was “a clique of financier an usurers” whose only conspiratorial desire was “enslaving the world through perpetual indebtedness” (Marsh 3).  Silver was favored over paper, with its less arbitrary feel; it was the fruit of men’s labor, as he witnessed close up in his dad’s workplace.  He associated gold with the engorged bankers.  Credit and scarcity meant artistic and social debt and death, to Pound. Poetry could be compared to Pound’s own minting, or coinage model for his poetics: “the accuracy of the eye in measuring the thickness of the cloud is an aesthetic perception, like the critical sense. I like the idea of the fineness of the metal, and it moves by analogy to the habit of testing verbal manifestations.”  Inheriting the Mint as a psychic trope shaped his Oedipal outstripping of his congenial father: he would render the poet a craftsman who labored in accuracy, measurement, perception to shape a newly “coined” poetics.  He wanted his to be the coin of the realm.  Pound griped, rightly, that the artist or poet was not valued enough, and he strived to borrow from X to help Y (i.e. his fund to get T.S. Eliot out of Lloyd’s was a generous bit of showmanship), yet what he missed was the interfering presence of his own “ego”; Pound strove to be the arbiter of an art work’s value, to be the one to separate the wheat from the chaff.  He thought he possessed the cipher to read for a poet’s excellence.

Each in this trio had influential fathers haunting them, shaping a primal relationship to materiality and money: Homer at his Mint, Sir John Ellerman at his Shipping Industry, Charles Leander Doolittle, a renowned astronomer, at the helm of the Zenith Telescope at the Flower Observatory at Penn. To put the three together is to trigger numerous associations. I’ve touched briefly on Pound’s witnessing up front the workers at the Mint. Pound’s self-appointed role as arbiter of poetic “truth” was one factor in the distance created between H.D. and himself, engaged in their youth, when he called her his “Dryad.” The other factor was the emergence of H.D.’s new love, the illegitimate proto-transgender heiress Bryher, whose relationship to finance went as deep as Pound’s: her father, the shipping magnate, Sir John Ellerman, died the richest man in England in 1933. Ellerman’s will was complex, but he released all debts, and saw that his employees were looked after. Pound complained that Ellerman gave nothing to artists, implicitly negating the artists who were already beneficiaries—analysts, poets, artists, refugees, pensioners (many women to make up for Pound’s touted aid to male modernists)—of Bryher’s wealth. Pound picked up on Ellerman’s erasure of the second “n” in his name, and played up his possible Jewish descent. 

Shipping for Bryher signified not just travel but also making “commerce” between multiple individuals, believing in widening the circle to create “lines” of support for those otherwise neglected: a case in point is Bryher’s close relation to Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare & CO. in Paris as a locus where Beach with Adrienne Monnier created a literary community Bryher lubricated with her ample gifts and funds. Beach called her “fairy god-mother,” for her funds clearly sustained the bookstore. Attenuated as it sounds, Bryher made up for years of Joyce putting his hands in Beach’s cash-box for advances and royalties and loans never paid back—and can thus be acknowledged as part of the production of Joyce’s work. (Robert McAlmon, Bryher’s first husband of convenience, also wined and dined Joyce, at Bryher’s expense.) Bryher, too, continued to support Beach through her interment during part of World War II, through Monnier’s ailing health and, finally, with a constant outpouring of money, gifts and encouragement. This example suggests how women’s voices and their toil was routinely repressed, and Bryher took upon herself the support of others—like Dorothy Richardson, to whom she gave a washing machine (too large to fit through her window!) and also sponsored most of her seventeen volume Pilgrimage. Yet Bryher distinctively hid her multiple contributions.

For H.D, Ellerman seemed larger-than-life, “not a monster, simply an abstraction,” and consequently shared some affinity with him because she could “understand the magic of numbers.” H.D. herself regarded money more abstractly than either Pound or Bryher through the lens of the abstract mathematics she gleaned from her father’s measurements. In H.D.’s story “Mouse Island,” Eleonor Fitzroy or Fizz (stand-in for Bryher) is depicted in one scene, probably characteristic:2 “Fizz sat on the bed, dressed. She poured useful articles out of a bag and made calculations with a silver pencil” (34). Conscious of endless conversions and their relative worth, “Fizz said, ‘a drachma is a lire, is a franc, isn’t quite a shilling – isnt’ it?’  Madelon (mask for H.D) evaluates: “Money seemed to her to be seen in museum-cases, numismatic, she believed the word was, collections, a red Indian penny carefully mounted and the reverse side.  She thought of money in terms of numismatics, for Fizz had relieved her of that counting and re-considering, two-and-six is more than fifty cents, for so long”—this had left her feeling “unweighted” (35). H.D. would continuously acknowledge how Bryher helped her gain artistic buoyancy, shielding her from painful incursions so she could focus on the “nuministic.” Money as object in itself could be potentially spiritually endowed for its pictorial as well as historical significance, a notion reinforced by her Moravian ancestry, embodied through her female lineage passing down the “secret” wisdom of a faith based on love, singing, stitching, and a belief in the dual gender of Christ. Moravians might differently value the “red Indian penny” because of the religion’s historical peace negotiations with the Native Americans in Bethlehem, with its graveyard’s burial of Native Americans beside Whites, including H.D., who wrote towards the ineffable “gift”— a “secret seed” of peace—in The Gift in 1943 while bombs rained down on H.D. and Bryher, living through the Blitz. Ultimately, H.D. regarded the artist as medium (not “ego scriptor”), a stance with more humility than the virile laborer that Pound had envisioned. Further reflecting her collaborative bent, H.D acknowledged Bryher’s psychic contribution to The Gift that allowed her to work up her trance memory and vision.

My emphasis here is to direct the reader to the trio’s interrelated differential psychological relationship to the modern crisis of money. It isn’t, after all, far-fetched to see Pound as deeply shaped by his childhood memory of the smelting metals: his father dealt in making tangibles that came forth through the alchemy of labor and technology. Pound appeared to equate the ability to mint coins to his own poetic inscriptions; he was striving to get beyond industry, lumber, railroads, and American philistine “usefulness.” Moore wrote of Pound’s “disrespect” for America in a telling way: “Defiance being a form of dependence, according to Freud, we perhaps should be honored” (Selected Letters 160).3 Pound railed against the very dependencies and contingencies that made him modern, as well as against Freud and psychoanalysis, calling the latter a “pig stye” and equating analysis with Circe’s hold.

Calling himself her closest relative, Pound always arrived at the “wrong” time, coming to the primal scene of St. Faith’s nursery for H.D’s “labor,” after all the arrangements had already been made by Bryher, saying he wished the child had been his, or that it could have been.  (He had stopped H.D. of course, from running off with Frances Gregg on at least two occasions).  But the small, quiet, steady, fierce Bryher was a challenge to the flamboyant Pound: he couldn’t woo her! Bryher functioned in this trio’s drama, in opposition to Pound’s ideas about money’s relationship to art—and politics.   

There has been a powerful resistance by critics to tender Bryher her rightful major role in H.D’s “chosen family,” or if included, she is often reduced to merely fiduciary, rather than a fecund force.  Bryher gave massively and widely, and with special sensitivity to the needs of the beneficiary, so much so that Moore, who probably wouldn’t have survived the Depression without Bryher’s aid, was accurate in describing her psychological motivation as “suicidally generous” (Selected Letters 351).4 Moore detected that Bryher felt she had to make up for some amorphous lack: not being a boy, being stunted, illegitimate.  She became “Fido” (one of H.D.’s nicknames for her), but her fidelity was active and productive.  Elsewhere, I have written about her melancholia, using Freud’s notion that it functioned in an “economic sense”—the melancholic cannot “substitute” for the lost object and, in short, the melancholic “ego turns against itself with all the ammunition supplied by an identification with the abandoning object” (“Mourning and Melancholia” 242).

Anna Freud pleaded with Bryher not to send money, but made an exception she said, after “in phantasy [she, Anna] put it to many different uses.”  By making the Freudian analogy of feces to money, she could joke with Bryher: “20 cartloads of old and well-rotted cow manure, the only sensible thing to spend money on.”5 Anna touched upon the very aspect of money Pound could have learned more about from Freud than he knew.  The bold pioneer into the human mind dubbed the bowel movement as a child’s first “gift” to his mother, and elaborated on the long historical relationship between fecal material and gold (“Faeces-symbolism” 2528). Psychoanalysis teaches that in early childhood feces are highly prized.  With the repression of this instinct, excrement falls into conscious contempt, becoming a tool of expressing disdain.  However, the once esteemed still remains preserved in the unconscious, transferred to another substance, into which the child learns in life to prize above almost all else – gold!  Anna’s letter, reflecting that this was an annual gift, enacts a therapeutic gesture: “The funny thing is that you are the only person in the world I would have accepted a money-present from, so my first impulse always was to give it away again.  But I am very grateful and last year’s manure was a great success.” Anna Freud immediately converted the money into its most direct equivalence; there could be no ego shadow upon either beneficiary or benefactor. The money offered the means to re-seed her garden and farm, to sustain their circle and, as it were, bypassing the weight of unnecessary debt or gratitude—central in primal emotional attachments.

***

Pound inspired, injured, infuriated, confused, and annoyed H.D.—their affair before she met Frances Gregg and later Bryher—had the effect of showing him as an “irreverent male youth” whose pummeling impact felt like a degrading of value.  This was her first farewell to Pound, composed after meeting Bryher in 1918:

Midget [H.D.] had left school, had left childhood, girlhood: was drifting unsatisfied, hurt and baffled out of a relationship with a hectic, adolescent, blundering, untried, mischievous, and irreverent male youth.  When she was nineteen, she had parted with the youth, having gained nothing from him but a feeling that someone had tampered with an oracle, had banged on a temple door, had dragged out small curious, sacred ornaments, had not understood their inner meaning, yet with a slight sense of their outer value, their perfect tint and carving, had not stolen hem, but left them, perhaps worse, exposed by the roadside, left from the shelter and their holy setting. (Paint It Today 7)

In other language, H.D. felt like a “mummy” with her gifts laid bare, unprotected; she embodied herself as a desecrated temple with precious shared “objects” cast to the wayside. 

H.D. claimed she did not care about money; rather, she cared about value and connection; but unlike Pound, she tied value to the connective “gift,” the kind that Marcel Mauss describes about North Pacific Tribes with their “potlatches,” feasts that translate as a verb, alternately “to nourish” and “to consume”(Hyde 9).6 (Much like the coffee feasts in Moravian culture, she could indeed “have her cake and eat it too.”)  It may be argued that H.D. didn’t have to care about money, except during the war, when she might have missed an allowance sent in the mail from her solidly middle-class family. In fact, before she met Bryher, H.D. joined with Amy Lowell and four other “Imagists,” suggesting they forego the title of “Some Imagists,” substituting “The Six,” given Pound threatened legal action for using his supposedly “patented” Imagism, and it was Lowell H.D. turned to when funds dipped down, encouraging her to set up a fund for artists who, like D.H. Lawrence, were in financial trouble. Certainly, H.D. did find Bryher’s monetary help comforting, but she loved and admired Bryher for her practical, playful and visionary qualities.

Moore recounted to her brother about Bryher’s meeting Ezra at her shared flat (her first) with H.D.: “Bryher said, ‘I let him in; I thought it was the bread or the potatoes and I was very sorry I had.  He talked to me an hour about a Saxon king and a Danish chief and how one wanted to carry off the other’s wife and things went on till but one was left.  He said afterward I didn’t stand up very well without H.D’” (italics mine) (Selected Letters 143).7 Pound’s anecdote about the exchange of wives signals the paternal control artists like H.D., Moore and Bryher tried to overcome.  He preferred duos: Artist and One of several circulating female muses. Yet in a larger picture of Bryher’s self-fashioning as pioneer, her promotion of modernists, like Pound’s, went well beyond her partnership with H.D.—and she fulfilled, with or without melancholia, what H.D. herself called the “secondary function of poet” –the role of “ambassador” (Heart to Artemis 155).

Pound found his own ideas of artistic fecundity amplified in his postscript to his translation (begun in 1913) of Remy de Gourmont’s The Natural Philosophy of Love; describing the brain as a repository of seminal fluid that charged creativity. “[I]f we consider that the power of the spermatozoid is precisely the power of exteriorizing a form,” Pound consigned women to a passive, non-generational function. Pound’s male dandy, at home with his “phallic religions,” found the creative process amounted to “the phallus or spermatozoid charging, head-on, the female chaos; integration of the male in the male organ. Even oneself has felt it, driving any new idea into the great passive vulva of London, a sensation analogous to the male feeling in copulation” (“Postscript” 204). Pound’s strangely related excitement over the Eleusinian Mystery cults of Demeter and Persephone fixated upon the supposed conclusion of the rites: the performance of Zeus and Persephone in a sexual union that led to a burst of light, much like the “burst” Pound experienced plunging through London.  He disregarded the search for Persephone, the ingesting of grains and libations, or the cutting of corn in silence.8 Pound interpreted the cult as having a crowning achievement, an ejaculatory burst, rather than the consort, loss, and salvation provided in the performance of these rites. For women, Carl Kerenyi cites Erich Neumann’s notion that woman “experiences herself first and foremost as the source of life,” but in “historical fact,” according to Kerenyi, “both men and women” were “to envisage the feminine source of life” (xxxiii). Gift-giving has significant connection with this “source of life,” this sustenance H.D. ascribed to Bryher, that was both consuming and sustaining. H.D. and Bryher’s psychoanalytic understandings reverberated with the Demeter/Persephone mystery cult that they both internalized.  Perdita did feel she had “two mothers,” and the mothers mothered each other—and others through the wars.  Writing from Vienna, H.D acknowledged Fido’s significance, after an illuminating visit with “Papa”: “You are evidently in some way, are food, help, support, mother, though of course, it mixes over into father too. It is really reversible.”9

Pound’s “populist” economics was built upon a vision of an independent and “natural” relationship to the land, with “the man/nature relationship as a marriage, often imagined as the male freeholder’s monogamous relationship to his female property.”  Mussolini spouted various ideological fantasies about agrarianism as well as the values in the labor of high art, as in the Malatesta Cantos.  Pound’s theory of the artist as one who needs to be free of usual domestic responsibilities accords with the freeholder’s relation to land and earth, but not with any real test of how value could be found in money or poetry that was not a subjective one.  One might speculate that Pound naively figured the freeholder of land in America to find some equivalence for the artist, unappreciated in America, in Europe, where his “goods” might find appropriate value. 

One last primal scene which reveals much about Pound as entitled artist, transcending the world of practicality, devoted to the mother/daughter cult which he usurped for his own purposes: vegetation had to depend upon male insemination. Pound’s letter to Bryher in 1925 opened with a peculiar demand, related to how he saw her—she was a mere vehicle in the “hymenal” scene: “will you now take on our parental functions and look about for some suitable lying-in hospital or maternity home or whatever, in French Switzerland… Also, if possible find out what the registration formalities are,” adding that “Switzerland is supposed to be expensive.”10 (Another taunt, and hint.) A follow-up letter in February asked for complete “secrecy” and for her not to tell Robert McAlmon or H.D., stating that the newborn, envisioned as commodity, would have to be “stalled somewhere” after its “production.”

When Bryher did not help him with his requests, he turned on her with an attack on her “mentor” Amy Lowell (who would die of gastric problems two months later, and Pound knew of her ailment), implicitly comparing her to Hollywood’s fat showman, Arbuckle. He wrote “Dearest Bryher” in March 1925, informing her that she’d be “glad to know” that Mr. Arbuckle, “author of a two vol. work on Keats is coming to England   to do a film with Amy Lowell [. . .]  Mr Arbuckle’s last film sold 12,000,000 reels” and that “When it comes to sellin the goods, she is right there with the sellumouick (sic?) . . . she will probably receive a honorary degree from the university (sic) of Oxford or Bullsneck into the bargain.”  He apparently wrote to thank her for her “researches” into a home where his mistress could have her baby, without prying eyes or gossip; Bryher had begged off. His epistolary turn-about would come as no surprise given the circumstances of their first meeting, and his sense that H.D. had made a very wrong love-choice. 

Bryher dreamed one night that Pound had asked her to set up funds for a tribute to honor and remember great men.  She was very angry and upset. She would not do this.  Well, Bryher might have dreamed this, but it was my dream after weeks and months at the Beinecke archive where H.D. and Bryher’s papers are housed. My dream was actually no dream at all. On June 26, 1970, Bryher received a formal request from Hamilton College to contribute to a fund for a Pound lectureship.11 The writer, an associate professor named Austin Briggs, quotes “Homage to Sextus Propertius”: “It is a custom” . . . “this care for past men.”  It is precisely this custom, especially in relationship to Pound, that so reviled Bryher, after hearing his radio broadcasts in light of her work with refugees, and her close personal relationship with Beach, who was herself interned in Paris.  The wound cut too deep and too far back.

Pound has hovered over other moderns and modernism, identified himself as one of its prime movers, and still does.  H.D is currently the woman poet pressed upon to make the literary world safe for Pound: the twenty-first century is not the age of “great men.” (David Moody’s three-volume biography of Pound, dedicated and thorough as it is, begs to differ.) Pound’s impassioned relationship to H.D., in fact, might have saved Pound from diminution; but with H.D and Bryher as a couple in mind, his prominence begins to lessen within a wider modernist cultural fabric.

Between the poles of the artist as self-promoter and the cultivation of a more communitarian notion of the artistic process as well as one who is “gifted,” who is worthy, decided by affection and an ethics of giving without the need to control the “product,” supporting many who were otherwise marginal—much of Bryher’s wealth went to women, Jews, pensioners, refugees, and gay men—many of whom were struggling. Simply start with “A” in Bryher’s correspondence at the Beinecke to find Louisa Ash, long-time housekeeper for H.D. at the Lowndes Street flat in London.  In one of Miss Ash’s last letters she told Bryher about her 88-year-old sister, thanking her profusely for receiving her money from Guardian Insurance Company. Heart-felt gratitude, distinctive and repetitive, runs throughout the archive; here’s Miss Ash: “I think madam you are very kind to everyone as you have been kind to me[.] I don’t know what I would have done if you had not been so kind to me and helped me for which I do thank you so very much.”12 The point here is that Bryher’s generosity spanned the needs of her housekeeper to someone, as distinct as the philosopher Walter Benjamin, who was taken to a “Voluntary Worker’s Camp” in Nevers.

Pound was caught within the very terms of a commodity culture, and couldn’t recognize those not in his ken. Bryher may have underestimated herself; Pound certainly overestimated himself. Yet surely Bryher did understand the principle of passing on the gift (or gifts in her case) as a means to undermine commodity exchange which functions without human contact or affection. Hyde writes: “The gift not only moves, it moves in a circle,” beyond the singular ego, or even the couple and, furthermore, “the gift that is not used will be lost, while the one that is passed along remains abundant” (10).

Barbara Guest told Kevin Killian in an interview that when she first started her biography of H.D., all the papers at the Beinecke were in disarray, but that she stumbled on a pouch with a million dollars in cash, left in the basement, she said, by “a wealthy woman to help with preservation costs.”  That woman was evidently Bryher, and sadly Guest’s biography could not fathom Bryher--H.D.’s most significant relationship, but it is revealing that the “cash,” so denigrated, and the woman, both make it possible for resurrections: even to my current mapping of H.D and Bryher’s own relationship.  The primal scene of the archive supplies the fodder for a new modernism, with Bryher’s resting place near H.D.’s., until the “great men” pass back the baton.  H.D. might have told him: love coins itself.

***

I imagine a scene with Pound on Freud’s couch . . . Did he have a father-complex-obsession that wouldn’t let him cede his fecal “gift” to his mother (descendent of Longfellow) so that he could instead seed the Modern masculine virile tradition?  This analysis could take some time . . .

 

_______
NOTES
  1. From H.D.’s letter to George Plank, May 2, 1935; held in H.D. Papers: Correspondence.
  2. The story “Pontikinisi (Mouse Island)” was first published under the pseudonym “Rhoda Peters” in the magazine Pagany in July-September issue of 1932.
  3. From Moore’s letter to Bryher, dated May 9, 1921.
  4. From Moore’s letter to Bryher, dated August 9, 1935.
  5. Anna Freud’s comments to Bryher are found in her letter written in 1937; held in Bryher Papers: Correspondence.
  6. Lewis Hyde cites Mauss’s famous formulation in his work, The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property.
  7. From Moore’s letter to Bryher, dated February 13, 1921.
  8. See Demetres Tryphonopoulos’ The Celestial Tradition: A Study of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos. The study, with its painstaking understanding of Greek cults, notes Pound’s “conviction of the centrality of the hieros gamos” (i.e. the union of Zeus and Persephone) (31).
  9. From H.D.’s letter to Bryher, dated November 27, 1934. See Friedman’s Analyzing Freud.
  10. From Pound’s letter to Bryher, dated (pencilled-in) February 23, 1925; held in Bryher Papers: Correspondence.
  11. See Bryher Papers, folder 71.
  12. Letter dated November 16, 1961; Bryher Papers, Box 2, folder 61.

 

___________

WORKS CITED

Bryher Ellerman Papers: Correspondence. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Lib., New Haven.

Bryher. The Heart to Artemis: A Writer’s Memoirs. New York: Harcourt, 1962.

Friedman, Susan Stanford, ed. Analzying Freud: Letters of H.D., Bryher and Their Circle. New York: New Directions, 2002.

Freud, Sigmund. “Faeces-symbolism and related dream actions.” Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud. Vol. 11. London: Hogarth, 1955.

—. “Mourning and Melancholia.” Standard Edition. Vol.14. London: Hogarth, 1955.

H.D. Papers: Correspondence. Yale Collection of American Literature, Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Lib., New Haven.

H.D. Paint It Today. New York: NYU P, 1992.

—. “Pontikinisi (Mouse Island).” Narthex and Other Stories. Canada: Book Thug, 2011. 34-35.

Hyde, Lewis. The Gift: Imagination and the Erotic Life of Property. New York: Random House, 1979.

Kerényi, Carl. Eleusis: Archetypal image of Mother and Daughter. Princeton: Princeton UP, 1967.

Marsh, Alec. Money and Modernity: Pound, Williams, and the Spirit of Jefferson. Tuscaloosa, AL: U of Alabama P, 1998.

Moore, Marianne. Selected Letters. Ed. Bonnie Costello, Celeste Goodridge, and Cristanne Miller. New York: Penguin, 1997.

Pound, Ezra. “Postscript to The Natural Philosophy of Love.Pavannes & Divagations. New York: New Directions, 1958. 203-14.

Tryphonopoulos, Demetres P. The Celestial Tradition: A Study of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos.” Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier UP, 1992.

 

 

Response to Susan McCabe’s Paper
Demetres Tryphonopoulos

In retelling the story of Hilda Doolittle’s relationship with Frances Gregg, her Philadelphia friend, A. David Moody reports “a strange incident” that occurred likely in March 1912 and involves Pound’s intervention as H.D. was about to take a taxi to the station where the newly-wed Gregg, along with her husband, “an English University Extension lecturer,” were waiting for H.D. to join them so that all three could travel together to Belgium where Gregg’s husband taught. Forced to watch her plans being spoiled by the “glowering and savage” Pound “Pounding” with his stick the pavement as the train pulls off, H.D. sees Pound in all his patriarchal, tyrannical glory. Moody pronounces that, “As she tells the story there is no room for reflecting on her own behaviour, nor for seeing Pound’s in another light. But it is possible to see him as acting with an unexpected worldly wisdom, and with a sense of common decency” (Ezra Pound Poet. Volume I: The Young Genius 1885-1920, 180-81).

Moody’s response to Pound’s concern for H.D. and his reading of his actions as those of a benevolent, paternal figure looking after H.D. (whom he famously baptised “H.D. Imagiste” in the British Museum tea room around 1912) is the one that has prevailed for a long time. However, there is another way of looking at this and other incidents in Pound’s and H.D.’s lives: In “H.D., Bryher and Pound: The Primal Scene of Modernist Money” but also in other recent work, Susan McCabe delves into the H.D. and Bryher archives at the Beinecke to discover details and instances that offer the possibility for reading not only Pound’s attitude to these women but also his contribution to modernism in quite a new light. In this essay, McCabe goes so far as to question Pound’s identification of himself as one of the prime movers of modernism, suggesting that it was H.D. and Bryher who may have made the literary world safe for Pound—to the point that “Pound’s impassioned relationship to H.D. . . . might have saved Pound [in the 21st century] from diminution” since “with H.D. and Bryher as a couple in mind, his prominence begins to lessen within a wider modernist cultural fabric.”

Poundians and modernists alike may be surprised and offended by such an argument. On the other hand, McCabe’s recent work and her forthcoming dual literary biography of H.D. and Bryher (H.D. and Bryher: The Love Story of Modernism) promises to question the place of a benevolent and wise Pound who, like Odysseus, knew all about and controlled what happened in the wide world of modernism in the first fifty years of the 20th century.