Hermeticism By Mitrano, Mena
Though it originates in the work of H. D., hermeticism achieves its most lasting impact and enduring legacy in the work of mid-century Italian poets. Within modernism, hermeticism names an alternative sensibility which remains in the shadow of the dominant modernist motifs of rupture and novelty and is drawn, instead, to the paradox of a productive retreat, of strength in weakness. It insists upon the intimate relationship of reading, its community-making power, and the capacity of language to respond to the most brutal challenges of history. One of the symbols of this strain of modernism is the self-enclosed completeness of the pearl and the shell in H. D.’s earlier imagistic poems. Later, in the poems of Trilogy, the non-referential intimacy of the shell suggests the more extreme withdrawal of the closed-in ‘egg in egg-shell’ (Gubar), emblem of the power of natural objects to withstand apocalypse and the deluge of history.