A Study of the Poems of D. H. Lawrence: Thinking in Poetry by M. Lockwood

By M. Lockwood

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The first period of Lawrence's poetry-writing career, as I have chosen to follow it, ends, then, with a further example of the sort of interference the poetry later suffered from outside ideas and attitudes. Specifically, in Love on the Farm, we see the first appearance of a large, masculine thumb placed in the balance in which the relationship between man and woman is being weighed. , with which Cruelty and Love is contemporary. It enters when Lawrence attempts to describe woman's surrender of her own free will to the brute male, the 'terrible other', from her own point of view, making her die the good death of the beloved.

There is the same one God, the gist of the letter is, yet he is all the gods that men care to see him as in their traditional or their private religions, and none of these is any more or less God than any of the others. so Lawrence always has his conception of the one ultimate God, and he always holds by his appeasing pluralism too - this is as true of the Last Poems as it is of these early ones - and he apparently feels under no necessity to choose between the two. It is simply that at different times the stress falls differently, and in the early work, especially in the early poetry, it tends to fall preponderantly, when the name of God is mentioned, on the quality of his oneness: possibly this is the influence of the 'crude Monism' of Lawrence's youth.

The revisions Lawrence made, after a gap of seven years, tend only to add to the faults of the English Review poem. Separated from its original context, the poem has become even more abstract. The fragments of the original setting which remain, the men walking along the railway, the boys bending over their books, are merely bathetic in company with 'a generation', 'mankind', 'the world', and 'the Creator'. Yet part of the point that Lawrence wants to make, as in The Wild Common, is that the railway workers and the schoolboys, the actual, substantial here and now, are vitally important: if not the only reality, then the only agency through which we can know it.

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