Pomegranate by D. H. Lawrence explores love and the loss of love through connection with the metaphor of a pomegranate. Lawrence relates the color, shape, and internal ‘kaleidoscope’ of pomegranates and hearts, using the fruit as a representation of love. Lawrence takes the reader on a tour of three different cities, addressing the differing pomegranates he finds in each, reflecting different lovers and types of people.
Summary of Pomegranate
Pomegranate by D. H. Lawrence begins by directly questioning the reader’s authority on right and ‘wrong’. The start of the poem is strange, Lawrence’s use of the direct address seemingly angry and pointed. Considering this is a poem about love, it is only right that Lawrence draws upon further strong emotions, dictating to the reader that he will be telling the story, no one else. How he decides to live his life is up to him, ‘I am not wrong’. Lawrence takes us on a journey around three cities, ‘Syracuse’, ‘Venice’, and ‘Tuscany’ in order to compare the differing Pomegranates that he finds in each of the locations. This symbol of the pomegranate can be understood as a metaphor for love, Lawrence connecting the red heart and the deep red color of the pomegranate. The final image of the poem focuses on how Lawrence ‘prefer[s] my heart to be broken’, as in line with a pomegranate, a fissure allows for one to see ‘within the crack’.
Lawrence writes Pomegranate in 9 stanzas, with the number of lines per stanza ranging between one and eight. The consistent change in stanza structure could reflect the different lovers and types of people Lawrence comes across in his travels, the structural form of the poem engendering the metaphor of differing pomegranates.
You can read the full poem Pomegranate here.
You tell me I am wrong.Who are you, who is anybody to tell me I am wrong?I am not wrong.
For much of Lawrence’s life, his public reputation was one of little standing, his work often being censored and deemed perverted. Within this opening line, I believe Lawrence is rebelling against this notion, with the author and poet rebutting the social conception of himself. The first line, with a harsh end stop, is incredibly forceful, furthering the bluntness of the message. Moreover, the opening line is monosyllabic, the forceful nature of each word furthering the next and ending on ‘wrong’, again giving the opening of the poem an incredibly harsh tone.
This extends throughout much of the poem, the harsh tone being the focus of this first stanza. The pointed ‘Who are you’ directly connects with the reader through the direct address, challenging the social perceptions that surround the writer. The final affirmation of this first stanza, ‘I am not wrong’, again using a monosyllabic structure, furthers this defiant idea, Lawrence attempting to clear up ideas of his perversion before the love poem continues.
Stanza Two, Three & Four
In Syracuse, rock left bare by the viciousness of Greek women,No doubt you have forgotten the pomegranate trees in flower,Oh so red, and such a lot of them.Whereas at Venice,Abhorrent, green, slippery cityWhose Doges were old, and had ancient eyes,In the dense foliage of the inner gardenPomegranates like bright green stone,And barbed, barbed with a crown.Oh, crown of spiked green metalActually growing!Now, in Tuscany,Pomegranates to warm your hands at;And crowns, kingly, generous, tilting crownsOver the left eyebrow.
These three stanzas detail Lawrence’s travels through three towns, ‘Syracuse’, ‘Venice’, and ‘Tuscany’, denoting the type of people within each town through the metaphor of how their pomegranates look.
The first town, ‘Syracuse’, focuses on the deep ‘red’ of the ‘pomegranate trees in flower’, how there are ‘such a lot of them’, starkly contrasting to the ‘viciousness of Greek women’. The focus on ‘vicious’ could relate to the symbolism of ‘red’, the color invoking ideas of passion and strength.
The third stanza moves to ‘Venice’, the city being described through the asyndetic list of ‘abhorrent, green, slippery’, then coupled with ‘doges were old, and had ancient eyes’, giving a sense of history to the floating city. The city seems penetrated by ‘green’, both the ‘dense foliage of the inner garden’, and the general ‘green’ description portraying the tint of the city. Within this green city lies ‘Pomegranates like bright green stone’, the fruit seemingly taking on a representative characteristic of its surroundings. It is from these ideas that we can see the connection between a city, those living in it, and the pomegranates of the city. Lawrence uses the image of a ‘pomegranate’ to represent those people, his experiences with them, and his adventures in their cities.
Finally, Lawrence explores ‘Tuscany’, focusing on the ‘warm[th]’ of the ‘pomegranates’. This can be understood as a metaphor for the friendliness of the people that live in Tuscany, Lawrence seeming to prefer this city with its ‘crowns, kingly, generous’ features, rather than the ‘abhorrent’ Venice.
Stanza Five & Six
And, if you dare, the fissure!Do you mean to tell me you will see no fissure?Do you prefer to look on the plain side?
At this point in Pomegranate, Lawrence introduces the idea of a ‘fissure’ in the fruit, representing a form of heartbreak. Lawrence suggests you must be daring in love, ‘if you dare’ being a quality attributed to those that end up heartbroken. Yet, heartbreak is not something to run away from within the poem, Lawrence again directly addressing the reader, ‘you will see no fissure?’. The borderline annoyance Lawrence feels when he realizes that some people will not ‘dare’ to risk for fear of heartbreak is evident through the question marks within these lines.
Lawrence suggests that a life without heartbreak is life ‘on the plain side’, something boring, uncolored, and only half-finished. Heartbreak is a part of life.
For all that, the setting suns are open.The end cracks open with the beginning:Rosy, tender, glittering within the fissure.
Lawrence extends the idea of the importance of heartbreak by using the image of ‘setting suns’. Indeed, the end of a day could be a reflection of the end of relationships or affairs, Lawrence using this imagery to present the beauty within the end of things.
The adjectives that Lawrence uses when describing the ‘fissure’ [heartbreak] are rich, ‘rosy, tender, glittering’, furthering the idea that the poet enjoys this feeling.
Stanza Eight and Nine
Do you mean to tell me there should be no fissure?No glittering, compact drops of dawn?Do you mean it is wrong, the gold-filmed skin, integument,shown ruptured?For my part, I prefer my heart to be broken.It is so lovely, dawn-kaleidoscopic within the crack.
Again within the eighth stanza, Lawrence returns to the direct address, laughing at the reader who tries to avoid heartbreak. Lawrence imagines that they seemingly don’t understand the beauty of heartbreak, again only seeing ‘wrong’ within his ideas.
The final two lines of the poem clarify Lawrence’s own opinion of heartbreak, he prefers ‘my heart to be broken’, knowing that there is a lot to gain from lost love. The final image is of a ‘kaleidoscope’ within the ‘crack’ of the heart, this acting as a metaphor for the beauty and growth that can come from a broken heart.