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Trilogy: The Walls Do Not Fall / Tribute to the Angels / The Flowering of the Rod

4.25  ·  Rating Details  ·  824 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
As civilian war poetry (written under the shattering impact of World War II). Trilogy's three long poems rank with T.S. Eliot's "Four Quartets" and Ezra Pound's "Pisan Cantos." The first book of the Trilogy, "The Walls Do Not Fall," published in the midst of the "fifty thousand incidents" of the London blitz, maintains the hope that though "we have no map; / possibly we wi ...more
Paperback, 206 pages
Published September 17th 1998 by New Directions (first published January 1st 1973)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,463)
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Matthew Hittinger
Aug 17, 2008 Matthew Hittinger rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Of all of H.D.'s work, next to Notes on Thought and Vision (which proves a good key or legend to understanding Trilogy) this is my favorite and I suspect her most important epic poem (though I am fond of Helen in Egypt and Hermetic Definitiontoo).

Trilogy consists of three books: These Walls Do Not Fall; Tribute to the Angels; and The Flowering of the Rod. Each of these divisions is made up of 43 parts or poems, the poems divided only by the number they bear, the 43 adding up to the mystical numb
Dec 13, 2008 Arielle rated it it was amazing
This reads like a bible to me. I learn so much about poetry and writing poetry and reading poetry from Trilogy. It is edited, constructed, lucid and huge - intricate and sparse at the same time. The images and constructions - constructed and built of something physical, yet dreamlike, prophetic - are a whole world and I live inside every time I read it or even open a page and glance at a word in the middle of a line. Every word is its own world and sound, reading like prayer and reality that is ...more
Jun 30, 2008 Lisa rated it really liked it
Modernism from a woman's perspective.

A friend and I are working through all the "groundbreaking books" on the Academy of American Poets list, and near the halfway mark, we hit this book, a collection of three poetic sequences which form a larger sequence together. Written during and after WWII, Trilogy addresses the themes of modernism; like Pound and Eliot, H.D. looks at putting back together the shards of civilization--her take, though, melds Egyptian and Christian mythology and addresses both
"O heart, small urn
of porphyry, agate or cornelian,

how imperceptibly the grain fell
between a heart-beat of pleasure

and a heart-beat of pain;
I do not know how it came

nor how long it had lain there,
nor can I say

how it escaped tempest
of passion and malice,

nor why it was not washed away
in flood of sorrow,

or dried up in the bleak drought
of bitter thought."

If this passage doesn't grab you, you're probably not going to be drawn in otherwise. Very surreal; crystalline images; very strange spiritualism a
Mar 06, 2008 Steven rated it liked it
In this collection of three book-length poems, exploring the search for spirituality amidst the confusion of war and its aftermath, I was most impressed with H.D.’s subtle call to reclaim the feminine idols of religion in a time when masculine wars were dominating the world. Throughout these three imagistic narratives, H.D. draws parallels between Eve, Mary Magdalene and the Virgin Mary, calling for them to be our guides and leaders as countries resurrect themselves from World War II. Even when ...more
Nov 15, 2011 Celeste rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, own
So beautiful, but "The Walls Do Not Fall" didn't resonate emotionally as consistently as I wanted it to. I think it may have to do with the lack of a clear crisis in the poem, which is something that characterizes the other long poems ("Song of Myself," "The Wasteland," etc.) I read for this class. The religious and spiritual ether-world the poem inhabits wasn't as satisfying without a grounding in a specific literal event (for example: Schnackenberg's "Heavenly Questions" is a meditation on phi ...more
Sarah Elizabeth Chitwood
May 30, 2014 Sarah Elizabeth Chitwood rated it it was amazing
H.D. masterfully reinvents dense, poetic verse. The lines have a regenerative quality which combine life and death, echoing similar characteristics of T.S. Eliot's poetry. Between H.D.'s focus on the spiritual and physical, the circle of life, quite simply, reveals itself in the recreation of old things into new and the everlasting similarities which the new maintains from the old.
H.D.'s poetry and the readers' notes by Aliki Barnstone in this text give me insight into the creative process and
Apr 25, 2010 Steve rated it it was amazing
Perhaps more later, but I'll need to think about it, and re-read portions. Actually, in order to do it justice, I would probably need to re-read the entire book a few times. The 3 long poems are drenched in images and symbols, but not in a way that they become speed bumps for the reader, probably because overall the book has a great beauty that carries it along. Trilogy also has an intensity of vision that you'll rarely encounter in a poetry collection. Read it.
Apr 28, 2015 Jacquelyn rated it really liked it
Shelves: own
H.D. is a master of using the space between words to say as much as the words themselves. And somehow, the conservation of words seems to make the poetry that much denser.
Jun 28, 2015 Tristan rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry, classic
This book was a wild ride, and the missing fifth star is definitely me. H.D.'s brilliance is unquestionable reading this; she is writing a scripture of poetry("poets are useless,//...this is the new heresy"), a revelation of the feminine divine, a tale of the spirit in the form of a person, and I don't know what else in a (generally) lucid and strong poem--or three poems. While each poem is a "long poem" that could, theoretically, be a complete longer verse work in and of itself, the parts of Tr ...more
May 26, 2015 Matthew rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
H.D.'s Trilogy is composed of three books: The Walls Do Not Fall, Tribute to the Angels, and The Flowering of the Rod .

My initial response to H.D.'s Trilogy was admiration mixed with disinterest regarding the poet's use of Biblical imagery. ("I admire H.D., but this particular collection was of less interest to me because of the excess of Biblical imagery.") Upon revisiting H.D.'s Trilogy, my opinion has improved.

The Walls Do Not Fall is dedicated to Bryher. "Bryher" is the pen name of H.D.'s
Jan 25, 2014 Jenna rated it liked it
"Re-vivify the eternal verity."

-H.D., from section #35 of "The Walls Do Not Fall"

"I know, I feel
the meaning that words hide;

they are anagrams, cryptograms,
little boxes, conditioned

to hatch butterflies..."

-H.D., from section #39 of "The Walls Do Not Fall"

Contemporary students of American poetry know H.D. (the pen name of Hilda Doolittle) as a poet of the 1910s, an erstwhile girlfriend of Ezra Pound who, together with Pound, pioneered the Imagism movement. While this description is not technically
Mar 23, 2014 Deborah rated it really liked it
Flowing poetry, beautiful verse.

We are voyagers, discoverers
of the not known.

O Heart, small urn
of porphyry, agate or cornelian,

how imperceptibly the grain fell
bewteen a heart-beat of pleasure

and a heart-beat of pain;
I do not know how it came

nor how long it had lain there,
nor can I say

how it escaped tempest
of passion and malice,

nor why it was not washed away
in flood of sorrow,

or dried up in the bleak drought
of bitter thought.

Grant us strength to endure
a little longer,

now the heart’s alabaster
is b
Jun 21, 2013 Hesper rated it liked it
Hmmm... this should be subtitled "A Gospel Reworking and Some Semantic Games According to H. D." It is straight-up mystical poetry, constructed around what looks like an intensely personal mythology. For this reason, it's not very accessible.

Not that I've ever had the pleasure, if that's what it would be, but it felt a lot like I had walked in the middle of a mystery cult ceremony and was expected to know exactly what was going on.
Matt Martinson
Jan 15, 2015 Matt Martinson rated it it was amazing
All three books were famously written in London during Germany's WWII blitz. Not surprisingly, then, there's a sense of morality and defiant hopefulness in the poems. Moreover, all three are both unique to themselves yet carry over similar themes and subjects. Specifically, all three books use heavy religious symbolism. Doolittle brilliantly mixes traditional Judeo-Christian tropes and characters and mixes them with other ancient religious symbols. But it's more than just the playful pseudo-blas ...more
Steven Felicelli
Feb 28, 2014 Steven Felicelli rated it liked it
like a lot of modernist poetry, it's pretty dated now - overly confident of its allusions (biblical, classical -
stuff that late 19th/early 20th C. intellectuals would be versed in, but are now Greek to everyone)
May 31, 2016 Emily rated it it was amazing
Beautiful. Even though there are 3 books, they flow together very well. HD's use of couplets and references make her stand out among modernist poets. This was such a treat to read.
Oct 04, 2011 Rob rated it really liked it
(8/10) A landmark work in modernist poetry, Trilogy can be read as H.D.'s attempt to compose a new kind of religion, one that is polysemous, mystical and distinctly feminist. It's also a kind of attempt to reconcile all of the various mythologies over the years and the traumatic experience of the Blitz into one succinct story, celebrating the spiritual while eviscerating dogmatism. And on top of all this H.D. mounts a defense of the poet in a society of war. It's a lot to tackle, and sometimes t ...more
Oct 25, 2015 Vendela rated it it was amazing
I need to think about this more, but stunning and epic are poor adjectives to describe what is unquestionably one of our more important modernist works.
Nov 06, 2014 Hannah rated it really liked it
Epic poetry, mythology, H.D. in old age/a woman writer who survived. "Psyche the butterfly, out of the cocoon." Divinity and femininity in archetype.
Jan 01, 2015 Will rated it really liked it
Shelves: poetry
H.D. is a strange writer of semi-epic poetry. These three poems about destruction, rebuilding, and rebirth and love are heavily mixed with ancient Greek and Biblical imagery. Written during the London Blitz, H.D. has a weird, refreshing, sometimes morose view of rebirth. The Flowering of the Rod (a symbol itself throughout all three poems) was my favorite, using the story of Mary Magdalene and Kaspar the magi to explain love and rebirth. If you like weird contemporary poetry, read this. If not, ...more
Dillon Westbrook
Jun 01, 2008 Dillon Westbrook rated it really liked it
I was amazed by how much varied I found the quality of writing in this, I suppose in part because I'm usually turned off by the kinds of archetypal/myth-exploring work she was interested in throughout all these volumes. At the same time, her explosion, literally, of discreet moments into this painfully beautiful language, her insertion of an ethereal and damaged subjectivity into the advent of mechanized war are amazing accomplishments.
Thomas Young
May 30, 2016 Thomas Young rated it it was amazing
H.D.'s three long poems carried me through straight from cover to cover in the span of two hours, and again a few days later, and again, and again. This is one of the greatest pieces I have ever read.
Sep 22, 2014 Abby rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
H.D. manages to create a universe both foreign and familiar with Trilogy. Her multi-layered approach to art and anthropology is consistently flooring. It's a book I hope to return to again and again. (One that I will always associate with the word "palimpsest" and the figure of the woman as goddess.) Brief thoughts here:
Feb 19, 2008 Jocelyn rated it really liked it
Recommended to Jocelyn by: read in Dr.Calland's poetry class
What I learned from this book: palimsest. Wrap mythology around itself like bubble gum around your finger, then weave it through itself to the point your mother would snatch away your gum. That's what H.D. does, expertly. If you want intriguing images and something to ponder, read this.
Jun 23, 2011 Emily rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry, read-in-2011
the last section, "the flowering of the rod," blew my mind. i read it in a park on a sunny day and halfway through, i could barely see the words on the page, but i couldn't stop reading.
Sep 06, 2009 Ed rated it really liked it
I read HD years back in post-grad school and have this book around somewhere. Lyrical. Love her Moravian connection. Interesting literary figure and contemporary of Ezra. Enough said.
Feb 11, 2012 Anna rated it it was ok
Shelves: poetry
Was a bit disappointed with this, especially because I loved some of the poems prior to reading "Triology" but didn't like the collection quite as much.
Kenyatta Garcia
Dec 23, 2013 Kenyatta Garcia rated it it was amazing
Incomparable. An absolutely essential read. Imagism taken to another level. Vorticism at its best on display in an utterly distinctive voice.
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H.D., Hilda Doolittle, was born on September 10, 1886, in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Her mother a Moravian, and her father an astronomer, she grew up to be what some have called the finest of all Imagist poets. Her accomplishments, though, extended far beyond her early Imagist poems. Her poetry, fiction, and non-fiction writings were published on both sides of the Atlantic, and her roles in a few ea ...more
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“...if you do not even understand what words say,
how can you expect to pass judgement
on what words conceal?”
“Let us search the old highways.” 8 likes
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