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Short poem

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

Bavarian Gentians

              1Not every man has gentians in his house
              2in Soft September, at slow, Sad Michaelmas.

              3Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark
              4darkening the day-time torch-like with the smoking blueness of Pluto's gloom,
              5ribbed and torch-like, with their blaze of darkness spread blue
              6down flattening into points, flattened under the sweep of white day
              7torch-flower of the blue-smoking darkness, Pluto's dark-blue daze,
              8black lamps from the halls of Dis, burning dark blue,
              9giving off darkness, blue darkness, as Demeter's pale lamps give off light,
            10lead me then, lead me the way.

            11Reach me a gentian, give me a torch!
            12let me guide myself with the blue, forked torch of this flower
            13down the darker and darker stairs, where blue is darkened on blueness.
            14even where Persephone goes, just now, from the frosted September
            15to the sightless realm where darkness is awake upon the dark
            16and Persephone herself is but a voice
            17or a darkness invisible enfolded in the deeper dark
            18of the arms Plutonic, and pierced with the passion of dense gloom,
            19among the splendour of torches of darkness, shedding darkness on the lost bride and her groom.


1] gentians: blue-flowered herbs.

2] Michaelmas: September 29, Christian feast of St. Michael.

8] Dis: "Dio" in edition, but in manuscript as here, corrected by Vivian de Sola Pinto and Warren Roberts, Complete Poems (Penguin, 1993): 1019.
Pluto, god of the classical underworld, took Persephone,daughter of Demeter, goddess of natural growth, to be his queenbut allowed her to return to the living world from May to Augustevery year.

11] Pinto and Roberts supply the final exclamation mark, also missing from the printed edition.

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, Last Poems, ed. Richard Aldington (London: Martin Secker, 1933): 37-38. PR 6023 A93 A17 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1933
Publication date note: 1933. Roberts A62
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/28

Composition date: August 1929 - October 1929
Composition date note: see Ellis, 602
Form: free verse

Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence