THE CLUE TO ALL
EXISTENCE IS BEING
Poems by D H Lawrence
D H LAWRENCE (1885 – 1930)
Although commonly associated with his novels, D H Lawrence was a prolific writer in other fields. After a short bout of teaching he lived solely by his pen.
The lesser known – and potentially the best of him – is to be found in some of the short stories and essays, the travel books (or books about his inner state of mind while travelling), his letters and of course his poetry.
This selection starts after the volume Look! We’ve Come Through that D H L wrote when he first “threw in his lot” with Frieda, for he wanted that group of poems to be seen as a whole. First there are some poems from Birds, Beasts and Flowers! (which D H L considered his best book of poems), then come some of the short utterances he called Pansies, then some from Last Poems. The locations of the poems include Italy, Australia, New Mexico, then Italy again.
D H L’s moving poem 'The Ship Of Death' is placed last. It was written towards the end of his comparatively short life after he had visited the Etruscan tombs.
“When D H L writes a poem (like the letters), it is as if he is leaning over your shoulder right now. After his first phase of 'rhyming poems', they breathe in a free organic form that follows his dowsing consciousness.” (Excerpt from four page introduction to The Clue To All Existence Is Being).
His voice is always unmistakable. Opposite are lines from 'We Are Transmitters':
Give, and it shall be given unto you
is still the truth about life.
But giving life is not so easy.
It doesn’t mean handing it out to some mean fool
or letting the living dead eat you up.
It means kindling the life-quality where it was not,
even if it’s only in the whiteness of a washed
P E A C H
Would you like to throw a stone at me?
Here, take all that’s left of my peach.
Heaven knows how it came to pass.
Somebody’s pound of flesh rendered up.
Wrinkled with secrets
And hard with the intention to keep them.
Why, from silvery peach-bloom,
From that shallow-silvery wine-glass on a short stem
This rolling, dropping, heavy globule?
I am thinking, of course, of the peach before I ate it.
Why so velvety, why so voluptuous heavy?
Why hanging with such inordinate weight?
Why so indented?
Why the groove?
Why the lovely, bivalve roundnesses?
Why the ripple down the sphere?
Why the suggestion of incision?
Why was not my peach round and finished like a billiard ball?
It would have been if man had made it.
Though I’ve eaten it now.
But it wasn’t round and finished like a billiard ball.
And because I say so, you would like to throw something at me.
Here, you can have my peach stone.
San Gervasio, Tuscany