Philosophy David Herbert Lawrence
I wonder, can the night go by;
Can this shot arrow of travel fly
Shaft-golden with light, sheer into the sky
Of a dawned to-morrow,
Without ever sleep delivering us
From each other, or loosing the dolorous
What is it then that you can see
That at the window endlessly
You watch the red sparks whirl and flee
And the night look through?
Your presence peering lonelily there
Oppresses me so, I can hardly bear
To share the train with you.
You hurt my heart-beats’ privacy;
I wish I could put you away from me;
I suffocate in this intimacy,
For all that I love you;
How I have longed for this night in the train,
Yet now every fibre of me cries in pain
To God to remove you.
But surely my soul’s best dream is still
That one night pouring down shall swill
Us away in an utter sleep, until
We are one, smooth-rounded.
Yet closely bitten in to me
Is this armour of stiff reluctancy
That keeps me impounded.
So, dear love, when another night
Pours on us, lift your fingers white
And strip me naked, touch me light,
Light, light all over.
For I ache most earnestly for your touch,
Yet I cannot move, however much
I would be your lover.
Night after night with a blemish of day
Unblown and unblossomed has withered away;
Come another night, come a new night, say
Will you pluck me apart?
Will you open the amorous, aching bud
Of my body, and loose the burning flood
That would leap to you from my heart?
Don't you care for my love? she said bitterly.
I handed her the mirror, and said:
Please address these questions to the proper person!
Please make all requests to head-quarters!
In all matters of emotional importance
please approach the supreme authority direct! -
So I handed her the mirror.
And she would have broken it over my head,
but she caught sight of her own reflection
and that held her spellbound for two seconds
while I fled.
Now and again
All my body springs alive,
And the life that is polarised in my eyes,
That quivers between my eyes and mouth,
Flies like a wild thing across my body,
Leaving my eyes half-empty, and clamorous,
Filling my still breasts with a flush and a flame,
Gathering the soft ripples below my breast
Into urgent, passionate waves,
And my soft, slumbering belly
Quivering awake with one impulse of desire,
Gathers itself fiercely together;
And my docile, fluent arms
Knotting themselves with wild strength
To clasp—what they have never clasped.
Then I tremble, and go trembling
Under the wild, strange tyranny of my body,
Till it has spent itself,
And the relentless nodality of my eyes reasserts itself,
Till the bursten flood of life ebbs back to my eyes,
Back from my beautiful, lonely body
Tired and unsatisfied.
I thought he was dumb, said he was dumb,
Yet I've heard him cry.
First faint scream,
Out of life's unfathomable dawn,
Far off, so far, like a madness, under the horizon's dawning rim,
Far, far off, far scream.
Tortoise in extremis.
Why were we crucified into sex?
Why were we not left rounded off, and finished in ourselves,
As we began,
As he certainly began, so perfectly alone?
A far, was-it-audible scream,
Or did it sound on the plasm direct?
Worse than the cry of the new-born,
All tiny, tiny, far away, reptile under the first dawn.
War-cry, triumph, acute-delight, death-scream reptilian,
Why was the veil torn?
The silken shriek of the soul's torn membrane?
The male soul's membrane
Torn with a shriek half music, half horror.
Male tortoise, cleaving behind the hovel-wall of that dense female,
Mounted and tense, spread-eagle, out-reaching out of the shell
Long neck, and long vulnerable limbs extruded, spreadeagle over her house-roof,
And the deep, secret, all-penetrating tail curved beneath her walls,
Reaching and gripping tense, more reaching anguish in uttermost tension
Till suddenly, in the spasm of coition, tupping like a jerking leap, and oh!
Opening its clenched face from his outstretched neck
And giving that fragile yell, that scream,
From his pink, cleft, old-man's mouth,
Giving up the ghost,
Or screaming in Pentecost, receiving the ghost.
His scream, and his moment's subsidence,
The moment of eternal silence,
Yet unreleased, and after the moment, the sudden, startling jerk of coition, and at once
The inexpressible faint yell --
And so on, till the last plasm of my body was melted back
To the primeval rudiments of life, and the secret.
So he tups, and screams
Time after time that frail, torn scream
After each jerk, the longish interval,
The tortoise eternity,
Age-long, reptilian persistence,
Heart-throb, slow heart-throb, persistent for the next spasm.
I remember, when I was a boy,
I heard the scream of a frog, which was caught with his foot in the mouth of an up-starting snake;
I remember when I first heard bull-frogs break into sound in the spring;
I remember hearing a wild goose out of the throat of night
Cry loudly, beyond the lake of waters;
I remember the first time, out of a bush in the darkness, a nightingale's piercing cries and gurgles startled the depths of my soul;
I remember the scream of a rabbit as I went through a wood at midnight;
I remember the heifer in her heat, blorting and blorting through the hours, persistent and irrepressible,
I remember my first terror hearing the howl of weird, amorous cats;
I remember the scream of a terrified, injured horse, the sheet-lightning,
And running away from the sound of a woman in labour, something like an owl whooing,
And listening inwardly to the first bleat of a lamb,
The first wail of an infant,
And my mother singing to herself,
And the first tenor singing of the passionate throat of a young collier, who has long since drunk himself to death,
The first elements of foreign speech
On wild dark lips.
And more than all these,
And less than all these,
Strange, faint coition yell
Of the male tortoise at extremity,
Tiny from under the very edge of the farthest far-off horizon of life.
The wheel on which our silence first is broken,
Sex, which breaks up our integrity, our single inviolability, our deep silence,
Tearing a cry from us.
Sex, which breaks us into voice, sets us calling across the deeps, calling, calling for the complement,
Singing, and calling, and singing again, being answered, having found.
Torn, to become whole again, after long seeking for what is lost,
The same cry from the tortoise as from Christ, the Osiris-cry of abandonment,
That which is whole, torn asunder,
That which is in part, finding its whole again throughout the universe.
The White Horse
The youth walks up to the white horse, to put its halter on
and the horse looks at him in silence.
They are so silent, they are in another world.
Dolor of Autumn
The acrid scents of autumn,
Reminiscent of slinking beasts, make me fear
Everything, tear-trembling stars of autumn
And the snore of the night in my ear.
For suddenly, flush-fallen,
All my life, in a rush
Of shedding away, has left me
Naked, exposed on the bush.
I, on the bush of the globe,
Like a newly-naked berry, shrink
Disclosed: but I also am prowling
As well in the scents that slink
Abroad: I in this naked berry
Of flesh that stands dismayed on the bush;
And I in the stealthy, brindled odours
Prowling about the lush
And acrid night of autumn;
My soul, along with the rout,
Rank and treacherous, prowling,
For the night, with a great breath intaken,
Has taken my spirit outside
Me, till I reel with disseminated consciousness,
Like a man who has died.
At the same time I stand exposed
Here on the bush of the globe,
A newly-naked berry of flesh
For the stars to probe.
I can’t stand Willy Wet-Leg,
Can’t stand him at any price.
He’s resigned, and when you hit him
he lets you hit him twice.
Butterfly, the wind blows sea-ward,
strong beyond the garden-wall!
Butterfly, why do you settle on my
shoe, and sip the dirt on my shoe,
Lifting your veined wings, lifting them?
big white butterfly!
Already it is October, and the wind
blows strong to the sea
from the hills where snow must have
fallen, the wind is polished with
Here in the garden, with red
geraniums, it is warm, it is warm
but the wind blows strong to sea-ward,
white butterfly, content on my shoe!
Will you go, will you go from my warm
Will you climb on your big soft wings,
as up an invisible rainbow, an arch
till the wind slides you sheer from the
and in a strange level fluttering you go
out to sea-ward, white speck!
Trees In The Garden
Ah in the thunder air
how still the trees are!
And the lime-tree, lovely and tall, every leaf silent
hardly looses even a last breath of perfume.
And the ghostly, creamy coloured little tree of leaves
white, ivory white among the rambling greens
how evanescent, variegated elder, she hesitates on the green grass
as if, in another moment, she would disappear
with all her grace of foam!
And the larch that is only a column, it goes up too tall to see:
and the balsam-pines that are blue with the grey-blue blueness of
things from the sea,
and the young copper beech, its leaves red-rosy at the ends
how still they are together, they stand so still
in the thunder air, all strangers to one another
as the green grass glows upwards, strangers in the silent garden.
A Sane Revolution
If you make a revolution, make it for fun,
don't make it in ghastly seriousness,
don't do it in deadly earnest,
do it for fun.
Don't do it because you hate people,
do it just to spit in their eye.
Don't do it for the money,
do it and be damned to the money.
Don't do it for equality,
do it because we've got too much equality
and it would be fun to upset the apple-cart
and see which way the apples would go a-rolling.
Don't do it for the working classes.
Do it so that we can all of us be little aristocracies on our own
and kick our heels like jolly escaped asses.
Don't do it, anyhow, for international Labour.
Labour is the one thing a man has had too much of.
Let's abolish labour, let's have done with labouring!
Work can be fun, and men can enjoy it; then it's not labour.
Let's have it so! Let's make a revolution for fun!
Brother and Sister
The shorn moon trembling indistinct on her path,
Frail as a scar upon the pale blue sky,
Draws towards the downward slope: some sorrow hath
Worn her down to the quick, so she faintly fares
Along her foot-searched way without knowing why
She creeps persistent down the sky’s long stairs.
Some day they see, though I have never seen,
The dead moon heaped within the new moon’s arms;
For surely the fragile, fine young thing had been
Too heavily burdened to mount the heavens so.
But my heart stands still, as a new, strong dread alarms
Me; might a young girl be heaped with such shadow of woe?
Since Death from the mother moon has pared us down to the quick,
And cast us forth like shorn, thin moons, to travel
An uncharted way among the myriad thick
Strewn stars of silent people, and luminous litter
Of lives which sorrows like mischievous dark mice chavel
To nought, diminishing each star’s glitter,
Since Death has delivered us utterly, naked and white,
Since the month of childhood is over, and we stand alone,
Since the beloved, faded moon that set us alight
Is delivered from us and pays no heed though we moan
In sorrow, since we stand in bewilderment, strange
And fearful to sally forth down the sky’s long range.
We may not cry to her still to sustain us here,
We may not hold her shadow back from the dark.
Oh, let us here forget, let us take the sheer
Unknown that lies before us, bearing the ark
Of the covenant onwards where she cannot go.
Let us rise and leave her now, she will never know.
The Song of a Man Who has Come Through
Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me!
A fine wind is blowing the new direction of Time.
If only I let it bear me, carry me, if only it carry me!
If only I am sensitive, subtle, oh, delicate, a winged gift!
If only, most lovely of all, I yield myself and am borrowed
By the fine, fine wind that takes its course though the chaos of the world
Like a fine, and exquisite chisel, a wedge-blade inserted;
If only I am keen and hard like the sheer tip of a wedge
Driven by invisible blows,
The rock will split, we shall come at the wonder, we shall find the Hesperides.
Oh, for the wonder that bubbles into my soul,
I would be a good fountain, a good well-head,
Would blur no whisper, spoil no expression.
What is the knocking?
What is the knocking at the door in the night?
It's somebody wants to do us harm.
No, no, it is the three strange angels.
Admit them, admit them.
A Passing Bell
Mournfully to and fro, to and fro the trees are waving;
What did you say, my dear?
The rain-bruised leaves are suddenly shaken, as a child
Asleep still shakes in the clutch of a sob—
Yes, my love, I hear.
One lonely bell, one only, the storm-tossed afternoon is braving,
Why not let it ring?
The roses lean down when they hear it, the tender, mild
Flowers of the bleeding-heart fall to the throb—
It is such a little thing!
A wet bird walks on the lawn, call to the boy to come and look,
Yes, it is over now.
Call to him out of the silence, call him to see
The starling shaking its head as it walks in the grass—
Ah, who knows how?
He cannot see it, I can never show it him, how it shook—
Don’t disturb him, darling.
—Its head as it walked: I can never call him to me,
Never, he is not, whatever shall come to pass.
No, look at the wet starling.
A Winter's Tale
Yesterday the fields were only grey with scattered snow,
And now the longest grass-leaves hardly emerge;
Yet her deep footsteps mark the snow, and go
On towards the pines at the hills' white verge.
I cannot see her, since the mist's white scarf
Obscures the dark wood and the dull orange sky;
But she's waiting, I know, impatient and cold, half
Sobs struggling into her frosty sigh.
Why does she come so promptly, when she must know
That she's only the nearer to the inevitable farewell;
The hill is steep, on the snow my steps are slow—
Why does she come, when she knows what I have to tell?
Service of all the Dead
Between the avenues of cypresses,
All in their scarlet cloaks, and surplices
Of linen, go the chaunting choristers,
The priests in gold and black, the villagers.
And all along the path to the cemetery
The round, dark heads of men crowd silently
And black-scarved faces of women-folk, wistfully
Watch at the banner of death, and the mystery.
And at the foot of a grave a father stands
With sunken head, and forgotten, folded hands;
And at the foot of a grave a woman kneels
With pale shut face, and neither hears not feels
The coming of the chaunting choristers
Between the avenues of cypresses,
The silence of the many villagers,
The candle-flames beside the surplices.
I look at the swaling sunset
I look at the swaling sunset
And wish I could go also
Through the red doors beyond the black-purple bar.
I wish that I could go
Through the red doors where I could put off
My shame like shoes in the porch,
My pain like garments,
And leave my flesh discarded lying
Like luggage of some departed traveller
Gone one knows not where.
Then I would turn round,
And seeing my cast-off body lying like lumber,
I would laugh with joy.
There's always the hyena of morality at the garden gate, and the real wolf at the end of the street.David Herbert Lawrence
Ours is an excessively conscious age. We know so much, we feel so little.David Herbert Lawrence
A Baby Asleep after Pain
As a drenched, drowned bee
Hangs numb and heavy from a bending flower,
So clings to me
My baby, her brown hair brushed with wet tears
And laid against her cheek;
Her soft white legs hanging heavily over my arm
Swinging heavily to my movements as I walk.
My sleeping baby hangs upon my life,
Like a burden she hangs on me.
She has always seemed so light,
But now she is wet with tears and numb with pain
Even her floating hair sinks heavily,
As the wings of a drenched, drowned bee
Are a heaviness, and a weariness.
I hate the actor and audience business. An author should be in among the crowd, kicking their shins or cheering them on to some mischief or merriment.David Herbert Lawrence