Evening Study Guide

Hilda Doolittle is known widely by her initials, H.D. “Evening" is one of the poems belonging to Sea Garden (1916), a book of poems in which H.D. examines the themes of gender, sexuality, feminism, and the human condition through the metaphor and symbolism of natural scenery. Remarkable for its boldness and precision, Sea Garden was H.D.'s first published collection. Her vivid depiction of flowers traces a line connecting her Imagist style to other famous explorations of floral symbolism—such as the eroticized paintings of southwestern flowers by Georgia O’Keefe, or the enigmatic garden poems of Emily Dickinson.

Though a direct treatment of light and shadow around sundown, "Evening" also presents subtle allusions to the metaphysical and abstract notions of subjectivity, identity, memory, and psychic withdrawal. Arguably, the psychical undertones to the poem can be attributed the cultural fascination in this period with Sigmund Freud, psychoanalysis, and the unconscious mind. Many poets other than H.D. explored the theme of repression and the unsayable, including Emily Dickinson, T.S. Eliot, Anne Sexton, Seamus Heaney, Archibald MacLeish, and Billy Collins, among others. By the 1960s, Freud's vision had fully entered society's vernacular and shaped mainstream art, appearing even in some Alfred Hitchcock films.

Along with "Evening," other titles in the Sea Garden collection include “Sea Violet,” “Sea Poppies,” and “Sea Lily,” as well as several poems not addressing flowers, such as “The Helmsman,” and “Storm.” "Evening," despite its power and poignancy, has not been widely anthologized.