THE RENEWAL OF THE SENSE OF PLACE IN THE POEMS OF DOOLITTLE AND LEVERTOV
Pages: 64-71 Published: 7 Oct 2019
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Abstract: Hilda Doolittle and Denise Levertov, two twentieth-century women poets, have helped to preserve our sense of place – endangered as it is by globalization, new technologies, and the internet -- by giving our feeling of belonging somewhere new meanings through their poetry. Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961), or H.D., was an American poet whose career reflects a changing sense of place, from the physical to one more colored by the social concerns of feminism. An example of her poetic technique for presenting a place, for uniting details from the environment to show us how we feel inside, is “Oread,” which comes from the famous collection Sea Garden (1916). The way she first wrote changes during the next twenty years to include a new feminist sense of place, or the new sense of women in the world. As a second example of a twentieth-century poet whose work starts with a close concern with the immediate physical environment and then expands to the political, social, and religious context of human life is Denise Levertov (1923-1997). In her early work she uses places to show us the feelings we have inside us – the feelings we might have known that we had. This technique of externalization of inner feelings or the inner landscape so that it can be known clearly comes as a surprise and revelation. In her later life Levertov writes primarily religious poems; some of them transform her characteristic non-religious revelation of wonder in the physical place around her found in her early poems into ones having religious feeling.