This programme is not currently available on BBC iPlayer Radio

Hilda Doolittle

It is one hundred years since the American poet Hilda Doolittle came to live in London. She lived through explosive changes in twentieth century culture with her dramatic life often overshadowing her work.

Considered for decades as Ezra Pound's Imagiste acolyte, she held her own through psychoanalysis with Freud, travelled extensively, had numerous long term relationships with both men and women, and an intense emotional and artistic connection with DH Lawrence.

Yet it was her poetry that was the core of her being. Though her early Imagist poems are her best known work, it was World War 2 that saw her at the height of her powers. Breaking from the Imagist tradition, in Trilogy, her epic poem, she reports on the war torn city from a pacifist perspective. The life of the bombed city is central and Doolittle redefines the heroic in terms of the suffering of ordinary people. Her trilogy is ranked alongside and Eliot's Four Quartets and Pound's Pisan Cantos as among the greatest civilian poetry of war in the 20th century.

Writer and broadcaster Diana Collecott is our guide to the world of Hilda Doolittle and Sara Kestelman reads a selection of her poetry.

Producer: Merilyn Harris
A Testbed production for BBC Radio 4.

Release date:

30 minutes

Last on

Sat 26 Nov 2011 23:30