H.D.'s interest in Taoism is demonstrated in her early work as the premier "Imagiste," in which she eschews Western concepts of time progression and subject-object syntax in order to produce a harmony with nature in her meditations on natural objects.

Mabel Collins Cook. Light on the Path: A treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the eastern wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence. One of several copies owned and annotated by H.D. London: Theosophical Publishing House, 1920.

Light on the Path: A treatise written for the personal use of those who are ignorant of the eastern wisdom, and who desire to enter within its influence

H. D. "Sea Rose." In Sea Garden. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1916. An "Imagist" poem from H. D.'s first book.

Rose, harsh rose,
marred and with stint of petals,
meagre flower, thin,
sparse of leaf,

more precious
than a wet rose
single on a stem --
you are caught in the drift.

Stunted, with small leaf,
you are flung on the sand,
you are lifted
in the crisp sand
that drives in the wind

Can the spice-rose
drip such acrid fragrance
hardened in a leaf?


Amy Lowell's elder brother, Percival, lived in Japan during much of her childhood: "[A] constant stream of pictures, prints, and kakemanos flowed in upon me. . .[which] made Japan so vivid to my imagination that I cannot realize that I have never been there."

Amy Lowell. Pictures of the Floating World. New York: Macmillan, 1919.

Pictures of the Floating World

Lowell's poems offer direct tribute to Japanese prints by Hokusai. By 1915, she had wrested the Imagist movement from Pound by taking over the group's annual anthology.

Amy Lowell with Florence Ayscough, translator. Fir-Flower Tablets: Poems from the Chinese. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1921.

Fir-Flower Tablets: Peom from the Chinese

Ayscough was raised in China. She offered Lowell a chance to try her hand at making English verse from the Chinese.


When John Gould Fletcher's move from Arkansas to Harvard in 1903 caused him to lose faith in his Christian upbringing, he turned for solace to a study of Buddhism and Oriental art. He published Goblins and Pagodas, a book of poems, in 1916, and Japanese Prints, a critical study, in 1918.

John Gould Fletcher. "Blue Symphony." In Goblins and Pagodas. Boston and New York: Houghton Mifflin, 1916.

The darkness rolls upward.
The thick darkness carries with it
rain and a ravel of cloud.
The sun comes forth upon earth.
.    .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .   .
Oh, old pagodas of my soul, how you glittered across green trees!
Blue and cool:
Blue, tremulously,
Blow faint puffs of smoke
Across sombre pools.
The damp green smell of rotted wood;
And a heron that cries from out the water.

The Twentieth Century: American Modernists:
Katherine Anne Porter and Arthur Davison Ficke
Witter Bynner
Wallace Stevens
Eastern Themes and Modernist Theater; Eugene O'Neill
Thornton Wilder
William Carlos Williams and Marianne Moore
E.E. Cummings and Gertrude Stein

Exhibition Introduction

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