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Wednesday 8 January 2014

D. H. Lawrence: Grief


coastal tree, Tokonama: photo by Stephen Cairns, 25 November 2013

The darkness steals the forms of all the queens.
But oh, the palms of her two black hands are red!

It is Death I fear so much, it is not the dead --
Not this gray book, but the red and bloody scenes.
The lamps are white like snowdrops on the grass;
The town is like a churchyard, all so still

And gray, now night is here; nor will 
Another torn red sunset come to pass.
And so I sit and turn the book of gray, 
Feeling the shadows like a blind man reading,
All fearful lest I find some next word bleeding. 
Nay, take my painted missal book away.


D. H. Lawrence (1885-1930): Grief, from The New Poetry: An Anthology, ed. Harriet Monroe, 1917

D.H. Lawrence

D. H. Lawrence: photo by Nickolas Muray (1892-1965), n.d. (George Eastman House)

pulling strings [traditional fishing in the Nagara River, Japan] : photo by Stephen Cairns, 24 August 2012

snow day (Saint John, New Brunswick): photo by Gillian Barfoot (Seeing Is), 15 December 2013

plum tree in snow: photo by Stephen Cairns, 26 January 2013

Bare Tree #2: photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarnley), 1 January 2014

Three Trees #2: photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarnley), 3 January 2014

Adams Pasture in Winter #7, Newbury, Massachusetts photo by Jim Rohan (LowerDarnley), 29 December 2013


Nin Andrews said...

Beautiful. The photos remind me of the chilly weather here, and my fear that global warming will mess with the jet stream in a permanent way and cause more than grief. One of the more extreme models predicts another ice age could happen . . .
Of course, I am thinking of that as I prepare to head out into it.

TC said...

Lawrence's poem has to with his mother's death from stomach cancer in 1910. A wrenching time for him; what he would later call his "sick" year.

From personal grief to grief for the fate of the planet is perhaps too great a leap, a leap beyond the strictly "logical"; but it seems that is the sort of leap which is being implied by the selection of images here.

ACravan said...

The poem, which I did not know, is extraordinarily powerful. My daughter has been assigned a "poem explication" this week (the subject poem is Hardy's "The Convergence of the Twain") and, while not wishing to overburden her, I would like her to read these three stanzas first to re-acclimate her to poetry's deep powers and subtle devices, which can affect you so powerfully as you live the daily surface of your life also. I know what Nin means about the photos and our current weather events here. I just returned from an 8 am doctor's appointment in Philadelphia at the University of Pennsylvania's latest, grandest megalopolis medical facility (just the thing to put you in the mood for a poem like this) and seeing the ice floes in the Schuylkill was actually frightening. Thank you for this. Curtis

Barry Taylor said...

I've been away a while, on my own sick year or two, and this was the poem to come back in on. Really happy to see the conversation's still going and the beauty's still flaring up from the dark. And a whole load more archive treasure to dive into! Happy new year indeed.

TC said...


Here's one for you and Jane:

Thomas Hardy: Snow in the Suburbs


You might be surprised to know how often we've we've spoken of you. Oh, those bad years, we've had ours as well; but it's inspiring, indeed encouraging to hear from you now, from out there in the big dark.

(Bigger and darker than ever it looks from here, though of course that's rumoured to be merely a matter of perspective.)

Barry Taylor said...

Tom - I'm touched and slightly amazed to hear that. Thank you. The bad years do strike home and leave their barbs under the skin, but here we are nonetheless, and this is still such a great, enlivening place to sit and reflect. It's one of the things I'll look forward to in 2014.

Mose23 said...

The poem, the pictures and the comments are all very moving.

some next word bleeding

A cluster of words both direct and strange.