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    D.H. Lawrence

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    Snap-Dragon

      She bade me follow to her garden where
      The mellow sunlight stood as in a cup
      Between the old grey walls; I did not dare
      To raise my face, I did not dare look up
      Lest her bright eyes like sparrows should fly in
      My windows of discovery and shrill 'Sin!'

      So with a downcast mien and laughing voice
      I followed, followed the swing of her white dress
      That rocked in a lilt along: I watched the poise
      Of her feet as they flew for a space, then paused to press
      The grass deep down with the royal burden of her:
      And gladly I'd offered my breast to the tread of her.

      'I like to see,' she said, and she crouched her down,
      She sunk into my sight like a settling bird;
      And her bosom crouched in the confines of her gown
      Like heavy birds at rest there, softly stirred
      By her measured breaths: 'I like to see,' said she,
      'The snap-dragon put out his tongue at me.'

      She laughed, she reached her hand out to the flower
      Closing its crimson throat: my own throat in her power
      Strangled, my heart swelled up so full
      As if it would burst its wineskin in my throat,
      Choke me in my own crimson; I watched her pull
      The gorge of the gaping flower, till the blood did float

      Over my eyes and I was blind --
      Her large brown hand stretched over
      The windows of my mind,
      And in the dark I did discover
      Things I was out to find:

      My grail, a brown bowl twined
      With swollen veins that met in the wrist,
      Under whose brown the amethyst
      I longed to taste: and I longed to turn
      My heart's red measure in her cup,
      I longed to feel my hot blood burn
      With the lambent amethyst in her cup.

      Then suddenly she looked up
      And I was blind in a tawny-gold day
      Till she took her eyes away.

      So she came down from above
      And emptied my heart of love . . .
      So I helf my heart aloft
      To the cuckoo that fluttered above,
      And she settled soft.

      It seemed that I and the morning world
      Were pressed cup-shape to take this reiver
      Bird who was weary to have furled
      Her wings on us,
      As we were weary to receive her:

             This bird, this rich
             Sumptuous central grain,
             This mutable witch,
             This one refrain,
             This laugh in the fight,
             This clot of light,
             This core of night.

      She spoke, and I closed my eyes
      To shut hallucinations out.
      I echoed with surprise
      Hearing my mere lips shout
      The answer they did devise.

             Again, I saw a brown bird hover
             Over the flowers at my feet;
             I felt a brown bird hover
             Over my heart, and sweet
             Its shadow lay on my heart.
             I thought I saw on the clover
             A brown bee pulling apart
             The closed flesh of the clover
             And burrowing into its heart.

      She moved her hand, and again
      I felt the brown bird hover
      Over my heart . . . and then
      The bird came down on my heart,
      As on a nest the rover
      Cuckoo comes, and shoves over
      The brim each careful part
      Of love, takes possession and settles down,
      With her wings and her feathers does drown
      The nest in a heat of love.

      She turned her flushed face to me for the glint
      Of a moment. 'See,' she laughed, 'if you also
      Can make them yawn.' I put my hand to the dint
      In the flower's throat, and the flower gaped wide with woe.
      She watched, she went of a sudden intensely still,
      She watched my hand, and I let her watch her fill.

      I pressed the wretched, throttled flower between
      My fingers, till its head lay back, its fangs
      Poised at her: like a weapon my hand stood white and keen,
      And I held the choked flower-serpent in its pangs
      Of mordant anguish till she ceased to laugh,
      Until her pride's flag, smitten, cleaved down to the staff.

      She hid her face, she murmured between her lips
      The low word 'Don't!' I let the flower fall,
      But held my hand afloat still towards the slips
      Of blossom she fingered, and my crisp fingers all
      Put forth to her: she did not move, nor I,
      For my hand like a snake watched hers that could not fly.
      Then I laughed in the dark of my heart, I did exult
      Like a sudden chuckling of music: I bade her eyes
      Meet mine, I opened her helpless eyes to consult
      Their fear, their shame, their joy that underlies
      Defeat in such a battle: in the dark of her eyes
      My heart was fierce to make her laughter rise . . .
      Till her dark deeps shook with convulsive thrills, and the dark
      Of her spirit wavered like water thrilled with light,
      And my heart leaped up in longing to plunge its stark
      Fervour within the pool of her twilight:
      Within her spacious gloom, in the mystery
      Of her barbarous soul, to grope with ecstasy.

      And I do not care though the large hands of revenge
      Shall get my throat at last -- shall get it soon,
      If the joy that they are lifted to avenge
      Have risen red on my night as a harvest moon,
      Which even Death can only put out for me,
      And death I know is beter than not-to-be.


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