Storm in the Black Forest by D.H. Lawrence

With this poem, author D.H. Lawrence uses the personal voice of a speaker to describe a storm in most vivid detail. This particular storm happens to be one that Lawrence saw while he was in the Black Forest (hence, the title) when he visited the forest in 1929, the year before he died. That reveals that this is one of the last poems and Lawrence ever wrote. The nature of Storm in the Black Forest is such that it makes the readers feel how truly vulnerable mankind is. The speaker in this poem does not claim to have any kind of control over nature. Rather, he scoffs at that idea and describes the storm in such a way as to make the readers feel that humanity is entirely at the mercies of nature. It is interesting, then, that he wrote this only a year before his death (Bio.com).

 

Storm in the Black Forest Analysis

Lines 1-4

Now it is almost night, from the bronzey soft sky

jugfull after jugfull of pure white liquid fire, bright white

tipples over and spills down,

and is gone

This is one of the most vivid descriptions found in poetry. The speaker is referring to lightning. He first describes the time and the way the sky looked. It was that time of evening just before the sun sets, when the whole sky looks “bronzey soft”. He describes the lightning as “jugfull after jugfull or pure white liquid fire”. One can picture what pure white liquid fire would look like. This description allows the readers to understand the true awe of the storm the speaker was describing. He then says that this pure white liquid fire “tipples over and spills down, and is gone”. This is the perfect description of lightening. One can imagine a streak of it trickling down the sky and then vanishing in an instant. These vivid descriptions create a setting which allows the reader to enter into the awe the speaker feels.

 

Lines 5-8

and gold-bronze flutters bent through the thick upper air.

And as the electric liquid pours out, sometimes

a still brighter white snake wriggles among it, spilled

and tumbling wriggling down the sky:

These lines continue the vivid description of the storm the speaker is experiencing. He describes how even the bronze sky seems to flutter under the power of the lightning.  The description of the air as thick allows the readers to feel what the speaker was feeling physically, and thereby enter into his experience. He continues to describe the lighting as “electric liquid” which “pours out”. He then describes the branches of lightning that come off of the main bolt. He calls that extra branch of lightning “a still brighter white snake” that “wriggles among it, spilled and tumbling wriggling down the sky”. This description makes it seem as though the lightning were alive, creating an even greater sense of awe and wonder at the power harnessed within the storm.

 

Lines 9-10

and then the heavens cackle with uncouth sounds.

And the rain won’t come, the rain refuses to come!

The speaker’s final description of the storm consists of the “heavens cackle”. This description also makes the storm appear as though it were alive, and the heavens as though they had a voice and laughed as they unleashed their power in the storm. The description of the heavens as “uncouth” suggests that the heavens have no regard for the social norms and customs of the people of earth. They do not care for politeness or even for our very lives. This causes the reader to understand the danger of the storm. It has no regard for human desires. This is why it is described as “uncouth”.

 

Lines 11-13

This is the electricity that man is supposed to have mastered

chained, subjugated to his use!

supposed to!

In the final lines of Storm in the Black Forest, the speaker scoffs at the notion that man has been able to “master” electricity. The sarcasm is heavy in his tone when he says, “This is the electricity that man is supposed to have mastered chained, subjugated to his use!” It is clear that the speaker does not believe that humanity has obtained the control it thinks it has obtained. As he stands and looks at the storm, he knows that there is no way a human being could ever fully harness and control that kind of power. It makes him feel small and helpless, and yet it also causes him to stand in awe of the power there is in nature.

 

D.H. Lawrence Background

D.H. Lawrence was born in England in 1885. Although he is now held in high esteem as one of the greatest writers of his time, he was not always regarded as such. In fact, when he first released some of his works, they were regarded as explicit and even pornographic. Although this particular poem is not sexual in nature, one can see through his vivid descriptions how his love poems and novels may have been viewed in such a way. In fact, some of his most famous works were banned in the United States (Bio.com). Lawrence was not only explicit and vivid in his physical descriptions, but also in his emotional descriptions. In this, he led the way in poetry by referring to specific emotions.

In fact, Lawrence seems to have been driven by his emotions more than anything else. He even fell in love with the wife of one of his friends (Bio.com). He eventually convinced her to run away with him, and she left her family to run away to Germany with Lawrence. He seems to have been a wildly emotional and passionate individual. Storm in the Black Forest reveals how even a storm could cause his emotions to run wild. He did not simply view the storm as a normal part of nature. Rather, he viewed it as a wonderful and powerful event which made him feel small, helpless, and insignificant. Lawrence effectively uses his speaker in this poem to portray such emotions through his vivid description of the storm, and his sarcastic remarks about humanity’s claim to have conquered lightning in the form of electricity. This tells much about Lawrence’s views on human nature. He does not believe humanity to have the kind of control it seems to claim. He also stands in awe of nature and views himself as at the mercies of nature.

Works Cited:

  • “L.H Lawrence.” Bio.com. A&E Networks Television, n.d. Web. 03 Aug. 2016.

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