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Short poem

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, [1921]): 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: 1921
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/8

Composition date: 1910 - 1911
Composition date note: late 1910 to early 1911, and revised November 1927 (Ellis, 574)
Rhyme: abacb dedce ....

Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence