Tuesday, 5 February 2008

D H Lawrence, the poet

It will soon be 78 years since David Herbert Lawrence died of tuberculosis in the charming town of Vence (France). P-i-R imagines the great man propped up on his pillows with a final breathtaking view of the moonlit sea in the middle-distance. It's reported that he died at 10 o'clock in the evening.
Smutty schoolboys of a certain generation, and P-i-R must admit to being of that generation, perused well-thumbed copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover in unexpurgated form after the famous 1961 court proceeedings. A couple of us, believe it or not, read the whole thing purely for its literary merit. And that was our introduction to one of the greatest writers that England has ever produced. A writer who could produce a masterpiece like Sons and Lovers wasn't even on any school's English Literature GCE syllabus! The stuffed shirts of the establishment had a lot to answer for - but then they always did.
Fortunately we now live in more enlightened times. Today you can find Allen Ginsberg in the public libraries! But back to Lawrence and in particular his poems.
During the next few weeks Poet-in-Residence intends to feature a selection of sample poems and poem extracts from D H Lawrence, as great a poet as he was a novelist, as will soon become clear.

from Fish

Fish, oh Fish,
So little matters!

Whether the waters rise and cover the earth
Or whether the waters wilt in the hollow places,
All one to you.

Aqueous, subaqueous,
And wave-thrilled.

As the waters roll
Roll you.
The waters wash,
You wash in oneness
And never emerge.

Never know,
Never grasp.

Your life a sluice of sensation along your sides,
A flush at the flails of your fins, down the whorl of your tail,
And water wetly on fire in the grates of your gills;
Fixed water-eyes.

Even snakes lie together.

But oh, fish, that rock in water,
You lie only with the waters;
One touch.

No fingers, no hands and feet, no lips,
No tender muzzles,
No wistful bellies,
No loins of desire,

D H Lawrence 1921


  1. Dear Poet - I'm no person to judge poetry at all, but I have a passing interest in DH. And I have to slightly correct you; "Sons and Lovers" by the man himself was "done" by us in Eng Lit when I was at school back in the early 70s.Not sure that did the man or his book any favours, BTW

  2. Mike, thanks for your comment - I suppose by the early 70s, as you say, D H Lawrence literature was quite acceptable in schools.
    In the early 60s when I was doing Eng.Lit, before the Lady Chatterly trial blew the locks off the book cabinets, we were playing safe with the likes of Thomas Hardy and H G Wells.
    Hope you find time to read some of the poems on here. They may surprise you! Cheers, Gwilym


Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.