David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)
Last Words to Miriam
Version 1 (1921)
1Yours is the shame and sorrow,
2 But the disgrace is mine;
3Your love was dark and thorough,
4Mine was the love of the sun for a flower
5 He creates with his shine.
6I was diligent to explore you,
7 Blossom you stalk by stalk,
8Till my fire of creation bore you
9Shrivelling down in the final dour
10 Anguish -- then I suffered a balk.
11I knew your pain, and it broke
12 My fine, craftsman's nerve;
13Your body quailed at my stroke,
14And my courage failed to give you the last
15 Fine torture you did deserve.
16You are shapely, you are adorned,
17 But opaque and dull in the flesh,
18Who, had I but pierced with the thorned
19Fire-threshing anguish, were fused and cast
20 In a lovely illumined mesh.
21Like a painted window: the best
22 Suffering burnt through your flesh,
23Undrossed it and left it blest
24With a quivering sweet wisdom of grace: but now
25 Who shall take you afresh?
26Now who will burn you free
27 From your body's terrors and dross,
28Since the fire has failed in me?
29What man will stoop in your flesh to plough
30 The shrieking cross?
31A mute, nearly beautiful thing
32 Is your face, that fills me with shame
33As I see it hardening,
34Warping the perfect image of God,
35 And darkening my eternal fame.
Version 2 (1928)
1Yours is the sullen sorrow,
2 The disgrace is also mine;
3Your love was intense and thorough,
4Mine was the love of a growing flower
5 For the sunshine.
6You had the power to explore me,
7Blossom me stalk by stalk;
8You woke my spirit, you bore me
9To consciousness, you gave me the dour
10 Awareness -- then I suffered a balk.
11Body to body I could not
12 Love you, although I would.
13We kissed, we kissed though we should not.
14You yielded, we threw the last cast,
15 And it was no good.
16You only endured, and it broke
17 My craftsman's nerve.
18No flesh responded to my stroke;
19So I failed to give you the last
20 Fine torture you did deserve.
21You are shapely, you are adorned
22 But opaque and null in the flesh;
23Who, had I but pierced with the thorned
24Full anguish, perhaps had been cast
25 In a lovely illuinined mesh
26Like a painted window; the best
27 Fire passed through your flesh,
28Undrossed it, and left it blest
29In clean new awareness. But now
30 Who shall take you afresh?
31Now who will burn you free
32 From your body's deadness and dross?
33Since the fire has failed in me,
34What man will stoop in your flesh to plough
35 The shrieking cross?
36A mute, nearly beautiful thing
37 Is your face, that fills me with shame
38As I see it hardening;
39I should have been cruel enough to bring
40 You through the flame.
1] See Vivian de Sola Pinto, "D. H. Lawrence, Letter-writer and Craftsman in Verse," Renaissance and Modern Studies 1 (1957): 1-34 for an account of the making of this poem.
10] balk: check, setback.
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: (1) D. H. Lawrence, Amores: Poems (London: Duckworth, ): 42-45. PR 6023 A93A7 Robarts Library. Roberts A9. (2) D. H. Lawrence, Collected Poems (New York: Jonathan Cape, 1929): I, 133-34. PR 6023 A93A17.
First publication date:
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/8
Composition date note: late 1910 to early 1911, and revised November 1927 (Ellis, 574)
Rhyme: abacb dedce ....
Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence