D.H. Lawrence was an English writer and one of the most important poets and novelists of the 20th century. His work often explored the increasingly detrimental effects of industrialization and its influence on morality. Explore D.H. Lawrence’s poetry below.
This is a short poem that compares domestic conflict and abuse to a storm outside the house. The poem describes a family huddling inside a home while the wind whips around outside. The speaker describes how the branches moved through the air, making shrieking noising as if trying to slash at the wind. There are “Two voices,” a mother and father, who sound angry. As the poem concludes, it becomes clear that one voice, the father’s, overcame the mother’s. The final image is of the “silence of blood.” Here are a few lines:
Outside the house an ash-tree hung its terrible whips,
And at night when the wind arose, the lash of the tree
Shrieked and slashed the wind, as a ship’s
Weird rigging in a storm shrieks hideously.
‘Love on the Farm’ by D.H. Lawrence is a poem about the universality of love, passion, and death. By describing what one could see on a farm, through numerous very lyrical lines, he alludes to these various themes. Death is one of the primary characters in this piece. As the poem comes to its conclusion, death, or this unnamed and loosely described predator, comes for the speaker themselves. Here are the first lines:
What large, dark hands are those at the window
Lifted, grasping the golden light
Which weaves its way through the creeper leaves
To my heart’s delight?
This D.H. Lawrence poem is told from the perspective of a teacher exhausted with his thoughtless class of students. He’s in charge of sixty students who do lazy work and ignore his instruction. He’s tired of it. The speaker determines that the last “embers” of his life are not going to be wasted on these students. This piece is one of three sections in the volume titled, “The Schoolmaster”. Here are a few lines:
When will the bell ring, and end this weariness?
How long have they tugged the leash, and strained apart
My pack of unruly hounds: I cannot start
Them again on a quarry of knowledge they hate to hunt,
‘Bei Hennef’ describes the effect twilight has to clear a speaker’s mind and make him see the strength of his love. The speaker can look around him, and at his love, and know how pure and full his relationship is or could be. He loves “you” fully and completely. Despite this, he concludes, the two still suffer from the annoyances of reality, and their love isn’t as strong as it could be. This poem is filled with some of the best examples of Lawrence’s poetic writing. Here are a few lines:
What else—it is perfect enough,
It is perfectly complete,
You and I.
Strange, how we suffer in spite of this!
‘Winter-Lull’ is a short, four-stanza, emotional poem that describes a snow-covered battlefield and the silence it is trapped in during WWI. The snow is concealing the reality of the situation. It is covering the incredibly dark images of the field and the ruins left behind by a battle. The speaker feels that he and the men who are fighting alongside him are bound to remain forever in this silence or in the silence of death. Here are the last lines of the poem:
We are folded together, men and the snowy ground
There is silence, only the silence, never a sound
Nor a verity
To assist us; disastrously silence-bound!
This incredible poem describes a speaker’s depression over what he considers a betrayal on the part of the woman he loves. The speaker believes that his lover, or perhaps just his object of affection, has betrayed him, and he goes wandering through the streets in a depression. By the end of the poem, she has returned and he watches as she rushes into the house as if trying to avoid being seen. Here are the first lines:
Hollow rang the house when I knocked on the door,
And I lingered on the threshold with my hand
Upraised to knock and knock once more:
‘The White Horse’ is one of D.H. Lawrence’s shortest poems. Despite this, its power earns it a place on this list. It explores themes of solitude and animal/human relationships. The poem describes a youth, a white horse, and how the two exist in their own world. The young man puts a halter on the horse, and they look at one another quietly, then the poem ends. The first two lines are:
The youth walks up to the white horse, to put its halter on
and the horse looks at him in silence.
This interesting poem contains the musings of a speaker enchanted by a hummingbird’s fantastical past. He ends the poem by stating that humanity has gotten the history of this tiny bird wrong, and perhaps that is for the best. Their presence, even in the historical past, would’ve been too much for modern life to handle. Here are a few lines:
I can imagine, in some otherworld
Primeval-dumb, far back
In that most awful stillness, that gasped and hummed,
Humming-birds raced down the avenues.
‘Snake’ describes a speaker’s interactions with a snake that came to drink at his water-trough. When he first sees the snake, he’s pleased about its presence nearby. But, there is an inner voice inside him that tells him to kill it and that he’s only refraining from doing so because he’s a coward. He admits that he’s frightened of it, but he doesn’t want to drive it away. Eventually, the snake disappears, and the speaker feels as though he has something to atone for. Here are the last lines:
And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords
And I have something to expiate:
This is a poem in which Lawrence imagines a world in which old age is truly revered and hoped for. He describes what that world would feel like if this were the case. The poem’s speaker tells a young girl and boy that they should see their parents as figures of strength and wisdom with fully successful lives. The poem begins with these lines:
It ought to be lovely to be old
to be full of the peace that comes of experience
and wrinkled ripe fulfilment.
Readers are often split on which D.H. Lawrence poem is the best. Some of the most commonly read include ‘Snake,’ ‘Discord in childhood,’ ‘Humming-Bird,’ and ‘Beautiful Old Age.’ It will be up to you to determine which of his poems you consider to be the best.
D.H. Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire, in the United Kingdom on September 11, 1885. He died in Vence, France, on March 2, 1930, at the age of 44.
This quote is attributed to fellow writer E.M. Forester. It was included in an obituary notice after Lawrence passed away.