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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

D. H. Lawrence: The Grudge of the Old


Susanna and the Elders: Gert Van Ort, 1520-25, stained glass, diameter 24 cm (Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York)

The old ones want to be young, and they aren't young,
and it rankles, they ache when they see the young,
and they can't help wanting to spite it on them

The old ones say to themselves: We are not going to be old,
we are not going to make way, we are not going to die,
we are going to stay on and on and on and on and on
and make the young look after us
till they are old. We are stronger than the young.
We have more energy, and our grip on life is harder.
Let us triumph, and let the young be listless
with their puny youth.
We are younger even now than the young, we can put their youth in abeyance.

And it is true.
And they do it.
And so it goes on.


D. H. Lawrence: The Grudge of the Old, from Pansies (1929)


vanderleun said...

Years ago in an interview with an octogenarian businessman who was being sued by everyone in his family, the old parking-lot magnate was asked: "Why are you so angry? Don't you know you can't take it with you?"

His answer? "I'm not leaving."



Lawrence's "Grudge" next to Van Ort's "Susanna" -- kind of wake-up call, as in "we are going to stay on and on and on and on and on" (maybe).


light coming into sky above still black
plane of ridge, robin calling on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

cross hatching of the curve,
relations of features

to place that is, just what
is the event, becomes

shadowed green of ridge across channel,
clouds on horizon to the left of point

Wooden Boy said...

"...let the young be listless with their puny youth". I love the disdain in this.

TC said...

On this subject, I cannot but echo the sentiments expressed by another poet, here.

Anonymous said...

"Let's dance in style, lets dance for a while
Heaven can wait we're only watching the skies
Hoping for the best but expecting the worst
Are you going to drop the bomb or not? .............etc...."

TC said...

Sandra, it's the next line of that song gets me:

"Let us die young or let us live forever"

A year before that song was written, there appeared a film about a group of elderly people rejuvenated by aliens. It was filmed in a place called St Petersburg, Florida, where old people (in real life) go... to never die. In the end, one of the old people, afflicted by cancer, elects to stay on Earth to die a "natural" death, while the other old people accept the aliens' invitation to travel to an interstellar world where they will never be ill, never age, and never die.


The film is well played, but schmaltzy and sentimental; though the actors were old, the film-maker was not.

Until one has experienced drastic physical breakdown, it is difficult to speak of these things honestly; and then, once one has entered that experience, it becomes difficult to speak of anything at all.

D. H. Lawrence was never an old man, but he had an acute sense of being oppressed by the narrow-mindedness of the old. And as he suffered from a terminal illness (tuberculosis, in his case) while still a young man, he perhaps possessed an uncommon wisdom, regarding these unpleasant matters.

Anonymous said...

love that song Tom...interesting comments those you have told..!

TC said...

(By the by, Vanderleun, I suppose your practise of lifting my posts directly to your blog and posting them there for want of "content" of your own appears entirely ethical to you, but to me it appears the easy-way ruse of a scoundrel; the fact you are able to "get away with it" demonstrates your cleverness, perhaps, in your shriveled little mind, but to me it merely demonstrates the paucity and insubstantiality of your entire enterprise. I would appreciate it if you would henceforth imitate flypaper and stick to your trademark boob-shows, thank you very much!)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

from one of my Sentences, 1976--when I was "younger"


Now, the night

around me when
I look

I'm falling

my foot
steps follow

the leader, kick
the can, Annie

over, it's over
my dead body.

TC said...

Yes, those damned old people, constantly leaving their dead bodies in the way of progress and traffic flow!

(The witness to the near vehicular murder of this particular senior citizen reported, "Well, I saw his shoe rolling down the street... but I bet he's one of those Medicare types anyway!)

Nin Andrews said...

I didn't begin to feel old till my mom and I never thought of her as old. Even at 94 she seemed young. Hmm.

TC said...

Nin, I do think that's the way of it -- things change, the normal course of things shifts, there's a lurch, and then...

The year since I was run over in the street may as well have been ten, body wrecked for good and I'm now a lame old man and no more denying it; so that part's simple enough.

The "problem arises" (as they say) when each day brings two or three new acute annoyances, and the old get tired of those very fast -- or one might say, they get old, more quickly than ever.

Dalriada said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
TC said...

Amen to that.