Date of Award




Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Department of English

Content Description

1 online resource (xxv, 225 pages)

Dissertation/Thesis Chair

Eric Keenaghan

Committee Members

Eric Keenaghan, Kir Kuiken, Charles Shepherdson


H.D., Levertov, Poetics, Poetry, Twentieth-Century, Visionary Poetry, American poetry, Feminism in literature, Visions in literature

Subject Categories

American Literature | Arts and Humanities | Creative Writing


H.D. and Denise Levertov, two visionary poets of the twentieth century, represent both female poets’ awakening of political and historical consciousness and their engagement with the poetics of vulnerability and survival. H.D. and Levertov offer lyrical visions that dismantle the binaries of real and unreal, earthly and transcendent, and individual and communal. The subject of this project is visionary imagination and its various reverberations, limitations, and potentialities. What is at stake in feminine visionary twentieth-century poetics is the creation of imaginative worlds, the space of possibility, and the shaping of a lyrical form that encompasses the voices of survival, vulnerability, and engagement in the midst of human struggles with social and political crises. The lyrical stance of these visionary poets is rooted in the depths of personal suffering and the desire to effect healing on both a personal and social scale. My project considers the visionary as well as mythopoetic articulations of their lyrical voices as they engage with the critical historical moments of the twentieth century, re-envisioning the past and creating new possibilities for gendered poetics. Their lyrical voices, which go beyond the vision of the individual self into the realm of collective and communitarian consciousness, still seem relevant and, at times, prophetic. The intention to transform the audience, to invite its participation and empathetic understanding through visionary poetry, is at the heart of both Levertov’s and H.D.’s work. While this project engages in the critical study of the twentieth-century articulations of the visionary imagination in two female poets who walk through the shards of the charred present and past to find the core of what is worth saving, it is also a creative exploration into the lyrical and narrative manifestations of the visionary imagination in my own creative work. My second poetry collection The House of Wandering, included here, is invested both in the content of their visionary poetics as they grapple with their respective social and historical realities as well as their application of lyrical voice – the choice between the personal “I” employed by Levertov but seeking connection through empathetic imagination and the choral “we” chosen by H.D. as she navigates between the voice of the self and the community of civilians in the wartime London. The personal vision of the self is more prominent in my poetry, as the self – and the divided identities of the displaced self – becomes the bearer of the memory.