“Take me anywhere” (from Hermetic Definition: ‘Red Rose and a Beggar’)

Hilda Doolittle

In “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” by Hilda Doolittle, the poet-speaker addresses a lover, expressing the way in which she takes refuge in their affection.

Hilda Doolittle

Nationality: America

Hilda Doolittle was one of the leading members of the Imagist movement.

Her work is packed full of beautiful, memorable images.

Key Poem Information

Central Message: Heartbreak and longing do not follow the rules of logic.

Speaker: Hilda Doolittle herself

Poetic Form: Free Verse

Time Period: 20th Century

"Take me anywhere, anywhere;" by Hilda Doolittle is a bittersweet poem about longing for a lover so much that the poet would sacrifice herself.

“Take me anywhere, anywhere;” is a direct address to an archetypical lover, fitting within the greater context of ‘The Red Rose and the Beggar,” the first part of her book Hermetic Definition. In this section of the book, Hilda Doolittle is the beggar seeking the rose, which symbolizes love. 

Accordingly, “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” is a direct address to every lover that Doolittle has ever had, although it is also a close inspection of the poet’s fascination with the dynamics of motherhood.


Summary

In “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” by Hilda Doolittle, the poet-speaker addresses an archetypical lover, expressing how she takes refuge in her partner’s affection.  

The speaker of “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” Hilda Doolittle, asks her lover to take her anywhere – it doesn’t matter much to her. No matter where they go, the poet will be inside her lover’s mind, hiding away from the rest of the world. 

The speaker then wonders what she will find in her lover’s mind, guessing whether it would be religion or magic. Finally, after some guessing as to whether she will find them there, she presumes that both religion and magic are there in the mind of her lover, equality matched and intertwined.

By frequently alluding to her former lovers and her personal past throughout the poem, Dolittle takes a tour of her romantic history, as if trying to figure out where it all went wrong. However, Hilda’s narrative is at the forefront of the poem, and as she pines for the attention of her lover, it is clear that she knows she’s the problem.


Literary Devices

Some of the most notable literary devices in “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” by Hilda Doolittle are:

  • Simile: There is a simile in stanza two, line two: “I would hide in your mind / as a child hides in an attic.” Using this comparison, Doolittle characterizes herself as a little child hiding away from the world under the protection of her lover. 
  • Enjambment: Enjambment, or the division of lines in an unnatural way, is one of Hilda Doolittle’s favorite literary devices. You can find a fantastic example in lines three of stanza three and line one of stanza four: “one or the other? together, matched, /mated, exactly the same,”
  • Metaphor: There are several metaphors in this poem, but an excellent example is in “you are my whole estate;” Using this metaphor, Doolittle expresses how important her lover is to her and how she has little else left to her name than love.
  • Allusion: Allusion is a reference to another person, place, or thing by using specific language. For example, when Doolittle speaks of “Doge,” she is referring to a specific building in Venice near where her ex-husband lives.


Form and Structure

This poem is written in free verse with four stanzas that include three lines. As a poet from the Imagist movement in the early 1900s, Hilda Doolittle almost exclusively wrote in free verse using enjambment and unique punctuation to divide the text.

Looking closely at the structure, the four stanzas divide into two parts, and if you count the total number of lines, you’ll notice that the sum is twelve. These even divisions by two drive home the theme of companionship and belonging in the poem.


Themes

“Take me anywhere, anywhere;” by Hilda Doolittle contains themes such as love, desperation, dependence, and hope.

Although the poet seems invested and devoted to her lover, she takes on a codependent role, like that of a child to a parent, when addressing her lover in this poem. Though the poet is desperate, she still has hope of finding companionship and uniting with her lover.


Detailed Analysis

Stanza One

Take me anywhere, anywhere;

I walk into you,

Doge—Venice—

As in the rest of Hermetic Definition, the poet is the speaker. 

She opens the poem by asking an unnamed lover to take her anywhere. Instead of being in that place, Doolittle will be in the lover’s mind. 

She mentions the Doge’s Palace in Venice, a medieval Venetian palace, in allusion to two things. 

Firstly, while Doolittle was writing this poem, her ex-husband Richard Aldington lived in Venice. The two had also toured Florence and Venice early in their courtship in 1912, 48 years earlier. 

Secondly, Doolittle refers to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice, where, in Act 1, Scene one, Antonio speaks: 

“My ventures are not in one bottom trusted, / Nor to one place; nor is my whole estate” (44-45)

In this quote, Antonio asserts that he has many investments in many places, so his finances are safe. If one fails, the others will make up for the loss. 

Thus, by mentioning Venice, Doolittle refers to specific lovers from her life while expressing that love is the only thing she has invested herself in. This love, however, has failed her, and she is left a beggar. 

With the emotive repetition of “anywhere, anywhere,” Doolittle pleads to her lover to take her somewhere where they, at one point, were still in love. 


Stanza Two

you are my whole estate;

as a child hides in an attic,

In stanza two of “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” the speaker expresses to the lover that he is her everything. She tells him that, no matter where he takes her, she would hide away in his mind “as a child hides in an attic.”

This stanza positions the poet as a submissive child, crawling into her lover’s mind to hide away from the world. 

While, at face value, this metaphor seems innocent enough, it is yet another allusion. While under the analysis of Sigmund Freud, Freud stated that Doolittle was suffering from a maternal fixation, always seeking the comforting embrace or “womb” of a mother.

By illustrating herself as a child walking into her lover’s mind, Doolittle recognizes that she sees her lover as someone to be crawled into or a guardian who will care for her. 

However, by stating, “I would hide in your mind,” Doolittle evolves from her ‘maternal fixation’ a bit, recognizing that what she wants in a lover is an intellectual “womb” and an academic parent. 


Stanza Three

what would I find there?

one or the other? together, matched,

By stanza three, the poet guesses what she will find inside her lover’s mind. Her only and best guess, though, is religion and “majic.”

The spelling of majic, again, creates an allusion, this time to Hilda Doolittle’s unpublished book, The Majic Ring, written in the 1940s. Doolittle recorded her spiritual experiences, including her mystical visions, in this book.

However, in the context of this poem, she divides religion and majic to make a clear point about spirituality and love. 

Here, majic and religion are related in the same way a child is related to a parent and in the same way she is related to her lovers. As suggested by the question “one or the other?” the poet and her lover are not mutually exclusive. While each can exist separately, they are of the same essence. 

Immediately following her questions, though, the poet seems to have answered herself, listing the adjectives “together” and “matched.”

The last line of stanza three and the first line of stanza four are excellent examples of enjambment. This division creates a rift between “matched” and “mated,” further explaining that, although the poet may be apart from her lover, they are a pair. 


Stanza Four

mated, exactly the same,

your eyes’ amber.

Finally, in stanza four, the poet lists more adjectives to describe her relationship with her lovers. They are equal in power, even though, in stanza two, Doolittle paints herself as a little child hiding in her lover’s mind. 

The statements “exactly the same, / equal in power, together yet separate,” then illustrate the complicated relationship that Doolittle has experienced in her romantic life. While she may believe that she is the more submissive “child” in the relationship, she is still “equal in power” to her lovers. Without her, the relationship could not be fulfilled. 

Finally, the poet closes with the line, “your eyes’ amber.” This is an allusion to amber formations. Like an insect or piece of debris caught inside a drop of amber, Doolittle is a part of her lover’s mind and sight, “together yet separate.”

In Greek myth, there are many stories about gods and spirits, such as the sisters of Meleager and the Hesperides, weeping tears of amber after the death of a young man. In these myths, the young man is usually related to the sun, regarded as a masculine force. 

Thus, in the poem, the amber of the lover’s eyes may be due to their loss of masculinity in their relationship with Doolittle.


FAQs

What is the main message of the poem “Take me anywhere, anywhere;?”

The main message of the poem “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” is that love is complicated. Although Hilda Doolittle speaks admiringly of her lovers, whom she has grouped up as one person in this poem, things have not worked out, and she is left to beg for their affection. She takes on a submissive yet equal role, careless of everything but her lover.

Was Hilda Doolittle an Imagist poet?

Hilda Doolittle was an imagist poet, and by many accounts, she was the best of the imagists, using clear, concise language and free verse in her poems. She and her then-fiance, Ezra Pound, started the Imagist movement in the early 1900s. However, the movement did not last long and was absorbed into the greater Modernist movement.

What is the tone of “Take me anywhere, anywhere;?”

The tone of “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” is dark, desperate, and admiring. While the poet Hilda Doolittle expresses her love and devotion to her lover in this poem, there are bitter undertones of dependence and rejection that haunt the text. Doolittle seems careless about where she goes and what she does as long as she can be with her lover.

What is the purpose of “Take me anywhere, anywhere;?”

The purpose of “Take me anywhere, anywhere;” is to explore Hilda Doolittle’s role in relationships and express the longing that she feels for a lover who can stimulate her intellectually and guide her through life. However, the deeper meaning is that love is disappointing and often results in heartbreak.


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About
Aimee LaFon has a BAS with honors in English and Classics, focusing her studies on the translation of Latin poetry, manuscript traditions, and the analysis of medieval and neoclassical poetry. She is a full-time writer and poet passionate about making knowledge accessible to everyone.
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