poem index

sign up to receive a new poem-a-day in your inbox

About this poet

David Herbert Lawrence, novelist, short-story writer, poet and essayist, was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, England, on September 11, 1885. Though better known as a novelist, Lawrence's first-published works (in 1909) were poems, and his poetry, especially his evocations of the natural world, have since had a significant influence on many poets on both sides of the Atlantic. His early poems reflect the influence of Ezra Pound and Imagist movement, which reached its peak in the early teens of the twentieth century. When Pound attempted to draw Lawrence into his circle of writer-followers, however, Lawrence decided to pursue a more independent path.

He believed in writing poetry that was stark, immediate and true to the mysterious inner force which motivated it. Many of his best-loved poems treat the physical and inner life of plants and animals; others are bitterly satiric and express his outrage at the puritanism and hypocrisy of conventional Anglo-Saxon society. Lawrence was a rebellious and profoundly polemical writer with radical views, who regarded sex, the primitive subconscious, and nature as cures to what he considered the evils of modern industrialized society. Tremendously prolific, his work was often uneven in quality, and he was a continual source of controversy, often involved in widely-publicized censorship cases, most famously for his novel Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928). His collections of poetry include Look! We Have Come Through (1917), a collection of poems about his wife; Birds, Beasts, and Flowers (1923); and Pansies (1929), which was banned on publication in England.

Besides his troubles with the censors, Lawrence was persecuted as well during World War I, for the supposed pro-German sympathies of his wife, Frieda. As a consequence, the Lawrences left England and traveled restlessly to Italy, Germany, Ceylon, Australia, New Zealand, Tahiti, the French Riviera, Mexico and the United States, unsuccessfully searching for a new homeland. In Taos, New Mexico, he became the center of a group of female admirers who considered themselves his disciples, and whose quarrels for his attention became a literary legend. A lifelong sufferer from tuberculosis, Lawrence died in 1930 in France, at the age of 44.


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

Amores (1916)
Bay (1919)
Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1923)
Collected Poems (1932)
Collected Poems (1964)
Complete Poems (1957)
Fire and Other Poems (1940)
Last Poems (1932)
Look! We Have Come Through (1917)
Love Poems and Others (1913)
Nettles (1930)
New Poems (1918)
Pansies (1929)
Poems (1939)
The Ship of Death (1933)
Tortoises (1921)

Prose

Apocalypse (1932)
Democracy (1936)
Etruscan Places (1927)
Fantasia of the Unconscious (1922)
Letters (1932)
Mornings in Mexico (1927)
Movements in European History (1921)
Pornography and Obscenity (1930)
Psychoanalysis and the Unconscious (1921)
Reflections on the Death of a Porcupine (1934)
Sea and Sardinia (1921)
Selected Literary Criticism (1955)
Studies in Classic American Literature (1923)
The Letters of D. H. Lawrence (1991)
Twilight in Italy (1916)

Letters

Aaron's Rod (1922)
Complete Short Stories (1955)
Lady Chatterley's Lover (1928)
Sons and Lovers (1913)
The Boy in the Bush (1924)
The Captain's Doll (1923)
The Lost Girl (1920)
The Man Who Died (1930)
The Plumed Serpent (1926)
The Rainbow (1915)
The Short Novels (1956)
The Trespasser (1912)
The White Peacock (1911)
Women in Love (1916)

Whales Weep Not!

D. H. Lawrence, 1885 - 1930
They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of
   the sea!

And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
on the depths of the seven seas, 
and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
and in the tropics tremble they with love
and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
Then the great bull lies up against his bride
in the blue deep bed of the sea,
as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life:
and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale-blood
the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom-tip, and
   comes to rest
in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she-whale's
   fathomless body.

And over the bridge of the whale's strong phallus, linking the
   wonder of whales
the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and
   forth,
keep passing, archangels of bliss
from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the
   sea
great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.

And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale-
   tender young
and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of
   the beginning and the end.

And bull-whales gather their women and whale-calves in a ring
when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood
and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat
encircling their huddled monsters of love.
And all this happens in the sea, in the salt
where God is also love, but without words:
and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
most happy, happy she!

and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin
she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea
she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males
and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.

From The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, edited by V. De Sola Pinto & F. W. Roberts. Copyright © 1964, 1971 by Angela Ravagli and C. M. Weekly, Executors of the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

From The Complete Poems of D. H. Lawrence, edited by V. De Sola Pinto & F. W. Roberts. Copyright © 1964, 1971 by Angela Ravagli and C. M. Weekly, Executors of the Estate of Frieda Lawrence Ravagli. Used by permission of Viking Penguin, a division of Penguin Books USA Inc.

D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence, novelist, short-story writer, poet and essayist, was born in Eastwood,

by this poet

poem
How beastly the bourgeois is
especially the male of the species--

Presentable, eminently presentable--
shall I make you a present of him?

Isn't he handsome?  Isn't he healthy?  Isn't he a fine specimen?
Doesn't he look the fresh clean Englishman, outside?
Isn't it God's own image? tramping his thirty miles a
poem
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.
poem
You know what it is to be born alone,
Baby tortoise!

The first day to heave your feet little by little from
   the shell,
Not yet awake,
And remain lapsed on earth, 
Not quite alive.

A tiny, fragile, half-animate bean.

To open your tiny beak-mouth, that looks as if it would
   never open
Like some iron door;