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Short poem

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)


              1At evening, sitting on this terrace,
              2When the sun from the west, beyond Pisa, beyond the mountains of Carrara
              3Departs, and the world is taken by surprise ...

              4When the tired flower of Florence is in gloom beneath the glowing
              5Brown hills surrounding ...

              6When under the arches of the Ponte Vecchio
              7A green light enters against stream, flush from the west,
              8Against the current of obscure Arno ...

              9Look up, and you see things flying
            10Between the day and the night;
            11Swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.

            12A circle swoop, and a quick parabola under the bridge arches
            13Where light pushes through;
            14A sudden turning upon itself of a thing in the air.
            15A dip to the water.

            16And you think:
            17"The swallows are flying so late!"


            19Dark air-life looping
            20Yet missing the pure loop ...
            21A twitch, a twitter, an elastic shudder in flight
            22And serrated wings against the sky,
            23Like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light,
            24And falling back.

            25Never swallows!
            27The swallows are gone.

            28At a wavering instant the swallows gave way to bats
            29By the Ponte Vecchio ...
            30Changing guard.

            31Bats, and an uneasy creeping in one's scalp
            32As the bats swoop overhead!
            33Flying madly.

            35Black piper on an infinitesimal pipe.
            36Little lumps that fly in air and have voices indefinite, wildly vindictive;

            37Wings like bits of umbrella.


            39Creatures that hang themselves up like an old rag, to sleep;
            40And disgustingly upside down.

            41Hanging upside down like rows of disgusting old rags
            42And grinning in their sleep.

            44Not for me!


2] Carrara: city in Tuscany, north-central Italy.

6] Ponte Vecchio: "old bridge," an arch bridge built in 1345 over the Arno river in Florence.

8] Arno: Florence is the only feasible north-south crossing of this, the major river of the Tuscany region in Italy.

22] serrated: notched.

34] Pipistrello!: `bat' (Italian).

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): 100-02. PR 6023 A93B5 1923 Robarts Library. Roberts A27.
First publication date: November 1922
Publication date note: English Review 35 (Nov. 1922): 381-85. Roberts C98
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/28

Composition date note: by Sept. 17, 1921 (Kinkead-Weekes, 671, 748)
Form: free verse

Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence