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 forty-four.


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)

Scent of Irises

A faint, sickening scent of irises
Persists all morning. Here in a jar on the table
A fine proud spike of purple irises
Rising above the class-room litter, makes me unable
To see the class’s lifted and bended faces
Save in a broken pattern, amid purple and gold and sable.

I can smell the gorgeous bog-end, in its breathless
Dazzle of may-blobs, when the marigold glare overcast you
With fire on your cheeks and your brow and your chin as you dipped
Your face in the marigold bunch, to touch and contrast you,
Your own dark mouth with the bridal faint lady-smocks,
Dissolved on the golden sorcery you should not outlast.

You amid the bog-end’s yellow incantation,
You sitting in the cowslips of the meadow above,
Me, your shadow on the bog-flame, flowery may-blobs,
Me full length in the cowslips, muttering you love;
You, your soul like a lady-smock, lost, evanescent,
You with your face all rich, like the sheen of a dove.

You are always asking, do I remember, remember
The butter-cup bog-end where the flowers rose up
And kindled you over deep with a cast of gold?
You ask again, do the healing days close up
The open darkness which then drew us in,
The dark which then drank up our brimming cup.

You upon the dry, dead beech-leaves, in the fire of night
Burnt like a sacrifice; you invisible;
Only the fire of darkness, and the scent of you!
—And yes, thank God, it still is possible
The healing days shall close the darkness up
Wherein we fainted like a smoke or dew.

Like vapour, dew, or poison. Now, thank God,
The fire of night is gone, and your face is ash
Indistinguishable on the grey, chill day;
The night had burst us out, at last the good
Dark fire burns on untroubled, without clash
Of you upon the dead leaves saying me Yea.

 

This poem is in the public domain. 

This poem is in the public domain. 

D. H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence

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.

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
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,
poem

Since I lost you I am silence-haunted,
  Sounds wave their little wings
A moment, then in weariness settle
  On the flood that soundless swings.

Whether the people in the street
  Like pattering ripples go by,
Or whether the theatre sighs and sighs
  With a loud, hoarse sigh: