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David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

Almond Blossom


              1Even iron can put forth,
              2Even iron.

              3This is the iron age,
              4But let us take heart
              5Seeing iron break and bud,
              6Seeing rusty iron puff with clouds of blossom.

              7The almond-tree,
              8December's bare iron hooks sticking out of earth.

              9The almond-tree,
            10That knows the deadliest poison, like a snake
            11In supreme bitterness.

            12Upon the iron, and upon the steel,
            13Odd flakes as if of snow, odd bits of snow,
            14Odd crumbs of melting snow.

            15But you mistake, it is not from the sky;
            16From out the iron, and from out the steel,
            17Flying not down from heaven, but storming up,
            18Strange storming up from the dense under-earth
            19Along the iron, to the living steel
            20In rose-hot tips, and flakes of rose-pale snow
            21Setting supreme annunciation to the world.

            22Nay, what a heart of delicate super-faith,
            23Iron-breaking,
            24The rusty swords of almond-trees.

            25Trees suffer, like races, clown the long ages.
            26They wander and are exiled, they live in exile through long ages
            27Like drawn blades never sheathed, hacked and gone black,
            28The alien trees in alien lands: and yet
            29The heart of blossom,
            30The unquenchable heart of blossom!

            31Look at the many-cicatrised frail vine, none more scarred and frail,
            32Yet see him fling himself abroad in fresh abandon
            33From the small wound-stump.

            34Even the wilful, obstinate, gummy fig-tree
            35Can be kept down, but he'll burst like a polyp into prolixity.

            36And the almond-tree, in exile, in the iron age!

            37This is the ancient southern earth whence the vases were baked, amphoras, craters, cantharus, œnochœ, and open-hearted cylix,
            38Bristling now with the iron of almond-trees

            39Iron, but unforgotten,
            40Iron, dawn-hearted,
            41Ever-beating dawn-heart, enveloped in iron against the exile, against the ages.

            42See it come forth in blossom
            43From the snow-remembering heart
            44In long-nighted January,
            45In the long dark nights of the evening star, and Sirius, and the Etna snow-wind through the long night.

            46Sweating his drops of blood through the long-nighted Gethsemane
            47Into blossom, into pride, into honey-triumph, into most exquisite splendour.
            48Oh, give me the tree of life in blossom
            49And the Cross sprouting its superb and fearless flowers!

            50Something must be reassuring to the almond, in the evening star, and the snow-wind, and the long, long, nights,
            51Some memory of far, sun-gentler lands,
            52So that the faith in his heart smiles again
            53And his blood ripples with that untenable delight of once-more-vindicated faith,
            54And the Gethsemane blood at the iron pores unfolds, unfolds,
            55Pearls itself into tenderness of bud
            56And in a great and sacred forthcoming steps forth, steps out in one stride
            57A naked tree of blossom, like a bridegroom bathing in dew, divested of cover,
            58Frail-naked, utterly uncovered
            59To the green night-baying of the dog-star, Etna's snow-edged wind
            60And January's loud-seeming sun.

            61Think of it, from the iron fastness
            62Suddenly to dare to come out naked, in perfection of blossom, beyond the sword-rust.
            63Think, to stand there in full-unfolded nudity, smiling,
            64With all the snow-wind, and the sun-glare, and the dog-star baying epithalamion.

            65Oh, honey-bodied beautiful one,
            66Come forth from iron,
            67Red your heart is.
            68Fragile-tender, fragile-tender life-body,
            69More fearless than iron all the time,
            70And so much prouder, so disdainful of reluctances.

            71In the distance like hoar-frost, like silvery ghosts communing on a green hill,
            72Hoar-frost-like and mysterious.

            73In the garden raying out
            74With a body like spray, dawn-tender, and looking about
            75With such insuperable, subtly-smiling assurance,
            76Sword-blade-born.

            77Unpromised,
            78No bounds being set.
            79Flaked out and come unpromised,
            80The tree being life-divine,
            81Fearing nothing, life-blissful at the core
            82Within iron and earth.

            83Knots of pink, fish-silvery
            84In heaven, in blue, blue heaven,
            85Soundless, bliss-full, wide-rayed, honey-bodied,
            86Red at the core,
            87Red at the core,
            88Knotted in heaven upon the fine light.

            89Open,
            90Open,
            91Five times wide open,
            92Six times wide open,
            93And given, and perfect;
            94And red at the core with the last sore-heartedness,
            95Sore-hearted-looking.

Fontana Vecchia.

Notes

31] many-cicatrised: scarred through the dropping of leaves from the stem.

37] amphoras: two-handled storage jars.
craters: large bowls for mixing wine with water.
cantharus: large two-handled drinking cup.
œnochœ: dipper to fill drinking cup from a wine bowl.
cylix: shallow tall-stemmed cup.

45] Sirius: the dog star, the brightest star in Canis Major.
Etna: Sicilian volcano.

46] Gethsemane: the garden where Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers to be tried, convicted, and crucified.

64] epithalamion: wedding poem.


Online text copyright © 2003, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: D. H. Lawrence, Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems (London: Martin Secker, 1923): 51-55. PR 6023 A93B5 1923 Robarts Library
First publication date: February 1922
Publication date note: The English Review (Feb. 1922)
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/28

Composition date note: by Jan. 28, 1921 (Kinkead-Weekes, 627, 748)
Form: free verse


Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence