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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)

The Wild Common

The quick sparks on the gorse bushes are leaping,
Little jets of sunlight-texture imitating flame;
Above them, exultant, the pee-wits are sweeping:
They are lords of the desolate wastes of sadness their screamings proclaim.

Rabbits, handfuls of brown earth, lie
Low-rounded on the mournful grass they have bitten down to the quick.
Are you they asleep?—Are they alive?—Now see, when I
Move my arms the hill bursts and heaves under their spurting kick.

The common flaunts bravely: but below, from the rushes
Crowds of glittering king-cups surge to challenge the blossoming bushes;
There the lazy streamlet pushes
Its curious course mildly; here it wakes again, leaps, laughs, and gushes.

Into a deep pond, an old sheep-dip,
Dark, overgrown with willows, cool, with the brook ebbing through so slow,
Naked on the steep, soft lip
Of the bank I stand watching my own white shadow quivering to and fro.

What if the gorse flowers shriveled and kissing were lost?
Without the pulsing waters, where were the marigolds and the songs of the brook?
If my veins and my breasts with love embossed
Withered, my insolent soul would be gone like flowers that the hot wind took.

So my soul like a passionate woman turns,
Filled with remorseful terror to the man she scorned, and her love
For myself in my own eyes’ laughter burns,
Runs ecstatic over the pliant folds rippling down to my belly from the breast-lights above.

Over my sunlit skin the warm, clinging air,
Rich with the songs of seven larks singing at once, goes kissing me glad.
And the soul of the wind and my blood compare
Their wandering happiness, and the wind, wasted in liberty, drifts on and is sad.

Oh but the water loves me and folds me,
Plays with me, sways me, lifts me and sinks me as though it were living blood,
Blood of a heaving woman who holds me,
Owning my supple body a rare glad thing, supremely good. 
 

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

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

poem

Out of the darkness, fretted sometimes in its sleeping,
Jets of sparks in fountains of blue come leaping
To sight, revealing a secret, numberless secrets keeping.

Sometimes the darkness trapped within a wheel
Runs into speed like a dream, the blue of the steel
Showing the rocking darkness

poem

Somewhere the long mellow note of the blackbird
Quickens the unclasping hands of hazel,
Somewhere the wind-flowers fling their heads back,
Stirred by an impetuous wind. Some ways’ll
All be sweet with white and blue violet.
    (Hush now, hush. Where am I?—Biuret—)

On the