Summary Of The Poem Amaranth

1918 Words 8 Pages
In H.D.’s poem “Amaranth,” the speaker attempts to assert her autonomy amidst the goddess’s demand for absolute devotion and her lover’s need for affection and beauty. Torn between these two figures, the speaker occupies no-place, or rather an absence of self that she attempts to fill with compulsive repetition. Despite the speaker’s sporadic assertions of self-worth and independence however, repeated phrases do not signify what the speaker possesses, but what she lacks; focusing on themes such as blindness and grief, the speaker constructs a rhetoric of absence that repetition highlights rather than subverts. This absence in turn aligns the speaker’s persona with the early 20th century female poet, whose artistic potential is suppressed by …show more content…
The ways in which repetition highlights the differences between the speaker and the Lady particularly construct this lack. The speaker’s main object of comparison throughout the poem is the goddess, whose “radiant and shameless” (H.D. III, 13) beauty coupled with the Victorian connotation of “Lady” (III, 1) aligns her with Virginia Woolf’s concept of “The Angel in the House.” (Woolf 150) H.D.’s Lady possesses the ideal and almost inhuman grace of Woolf’s Angel, who haunts the professional women with her perfect domesticity. H.D.’s speaker nonetheless ties herself to the Lady, stating, “I too have followed her path, / I too have bent at her feet” (I, 3-4). In the first line, “followed” functions as a grammatical mirror that links subject and object by equating their experiences as women. As “her” is a reflection of the speaker’s “I,” the speaker thus defines her femininity in relation to the Lady’s. The speaker simultaneously recognizes and misrecognizes herself however, as her reflection in the Lady is not actually the speaker, but an …show more content…
In this sense, her negations counteract the blind lack she originally experiences; while she was blind to the lover’s manipulation, the assertions “I was not asleep” or “I was not blind” suggest the speaker now understands the unfair, and even patriarchal, power structure that exists between her and her lover. The incessant repetition of “I was not” or “I did not” undermines the strength of these assertions however, as the speaker’s choice to state “I was not blind” rather than “I could see” illustrates her struggle to describe what she is. Moreover, the above passage assumes an anxious, uncertain tone as the speaker’s reassertion suggests that she needs to convince herself rather than her lover. Asserting her sight once is not enough– in order to quell her doubt, she must repeatedly remind herself. The speaker’s statements are thus more evasive than revealing, in that she deliberately avoids positive assertions because she is not sure of what she is, only what she is not. The repetition of “not” thus further constructs the speaker’s differential and lacking sense of self. Likewise, these negations inhibit her sense of artistic direction; while she is not blind to the conventional gender roles that contradict her poetic inclinations, she cannot see any alternative route. Repetition therefore manifests the speaker’s self-doubt and

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