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David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

Cruelty and Love / Love on the Farm


Version 1 (1913)
          1.1What large, dark hands are those at the window
          1.2Lifted, grasping the golden light
          1.3Which weaves its way through the creeper leaves
          1.4     To my heart's delight?

          1.5Ah, only the leaves! But in the west,
          1.6In the west I see a redness come
          1.7Over the evening's burning breast --
          1.8     -- 'Tis the wound of love goes home!

          1.9The woodbine creeps abroad
        1.10Calling low to her lover:
        1.11The sun-lit flirt who all the day
        1.12Has poised above her lips in play
        1.13And stolen kisses, shallow and gay
        1.14Of pollen, now has gone away
        1.15-- She woos the moth with her sweet, low word,
        1.16And when above her his broad wings hover
        1.17Then her bright breast she will uncover
        1.18And yield her honey-drop to her lover.

        1.19Into the yellow, evening glow
        1.20Saunters a man from the farm below,
        1.21Leans, and looks in at the low-built shed
        1.22Where hangs the swallow's marriage bed.
        1.23The bird lies warm against the wall.
        1.24She glances quick her startled eyes
        1.25Towards him, then she turns away
        1.26Her small head, making warm display
        1.27Of red upon the throat. His terrors sway
        1.28Her out of the nest's warm, busy ball,
        1.29Whose plaintive cry is heard as she flies
        1.30In one blue stoop from out the sties
        1.31Into the evening's empty hall.

        1.32Oh, water-hen, beside the rushes
        1.33Hide your quaint, unfading blushes,
        1.34Still your quick tail, and lie as dead,
        1.35Till the distance folds over his ominous tread.

        1.36The rabbit presses back her ears,
        1.37Turns back her liquid, anguished eyes
        1.38And crouches low: then with wild spring
        1.39Spurts from the terror of his oncoming
        1.40To be choked back, the wire ring
        1.41Her frantic effort throttling:
        1.42Piteous brown ball of quivering fears!

        1.43Ah soon in his large, hard hands she dies,
        1.44And swings all loose tohe swing of his walk.
        1.45Yet calm and kindly are his eyes
        1.46And ready to open in brown surprise
        1.47Should I not answer to his talk
        1.48Or should he my tears surmise.

        1.49I hear his hand on the latch, and rise from my chair
        1.50Watching the door open: he flashes bare
        1.51His strong teeth in a smile, and flashes his eyes
        1.52In a smile like triumph upon me; then careless-wise
        1.53He flings the rabbit soft on the table board
        1.54And comes towards me: ah, the uplifted sword
        1.55Of his hand against my bosom, and oh, the broad
        1.56Blade of his hand that raises my face to applaud
        1.57His coming: he raises up my face to him
        1.58And caresses my mouth with his fingers, which still smell grim
        1.59Of the rabbit's fur! God, I am caught in a snare!
        1.60I know not what fine wire is round my throat,
        1.61I only know I let him finger there
        1.62My pulse of life, letting him nose like a stoat
        1.63Who sniffs with joy before he drinks the blood:
        1.64And down his mouth comes to my mouth, and down
        1.65His dark bright eyes descend like a fiery hood
        1.66Upon my mind: his mouth meets mine, and a flood
        1.67Of sweet fire sweeps across me, so I drown
        1.68Within him, die, and find death good.

Version 2 (1928)
          2.1What large, dark hands are those at the window
          2.2Grasping in the golden light
          2.3Which weaves its way through the evening wind
          2.4At my heart's delight?

          2.5Ah, only the leaves! But in the west
          2.6I see a redness suddenly come
          2.7Into the evening's anxious breast --
          2.8'Tis the wound of love goes home!

          2.9The woodbine creeps abroad
        2.10Calling low to her lover:
        2.11The sunlit flirt who all the day
        2.12Has poised above her lips in play
        2.13And stolen kisses, shallow and gay
        2.14Of pollen, now has gone away --
        2.15She woos the moth with her sweet, low word;
        2.16And when above her his moth-wings hover
        2.17Then her bright breast she will uncover
        2.18And yield her honey-drop to her lover.

        2.19Into the yellow, evening glow
        2.20Saunters a man from the farm below;
        2.21Leans, and looks in at the low-built shed
        2.22Where the swallow has hung her marriage bed.
        2.23The bird lies warm against the wall.
        2.24She glances quick her startled eyes
        2.25Towards him, then she turns away
        2.26Her small head, making warm display
        2.27Of red upon the throat. Her terrors sway
        2.28Her out of the nest's warm, busy ball,
        2.29Whose plaintive cry is heard as she flies
        2.30In one blue stoop from out the sties
        2.31Into the twilight's empty hall.

        2.32Oh, water-hen, beside the rushes
        2.33Ride your quaintly scarlet blushes,
        2.34Still your quick tall, lie still as dead,
        2.35Till the distance folds over his ominous tread!

        2.36The rabbit presses back her ears,
        2.37Turns back her liquid, anguished eyes
        2.38And crouches low; then with wild spring
        2.39Spurts from the terror of his oncoming;
        2.40To be choked back, the wire ring
        2.41Her frantic effort throttling:
        2.42Piteous brown ball of quivering fears!
        2.43Ah, soon in his large, hard hands she dies,
        2.44And swings all loose from the swing of his walk!
        2.45Yet calm and kindly are his eyes
        2.46And ready to open in brown surprise
        2.47Should I not answer to his talk
        2.48Or should he my tears surmise.

        2.49I hear his hand on the latch, and rise from my chair
        2.50Watching the door open; he flashes bare
        2.51His strong teeth in a smile, and flashes his eyes
        2.52In a smile like triumph upon me; then careless-wise
        2.53He flings the rabbit soft on the table board
        2.54And comes towards me: ah! the uplifted sword
        2.55Of his hand against my bosom! and oh, the broad
        2.56Blade of his glance that asks me to applaud
        2.57His coming! With his hand he turns my face to him
        2.58And caresses me with his fingers that still smell grim
        2.59Of the rabbit's fur! God, I am caught in a snare!
        2.60I know not what fine wire is round my throat;
        2.61I only know I let him finger there
        2.62My pulse of life, and let him nose like a stoat
        2.63Who sniffs with joy before he drinks the blood.

        2.64And down his mouth comes to my mouth! and down
        2.65His bright dark eyes come over me, like a hood
        2.66Upon my mind! his lips meet mine, and a flood
        2.67Of sweet fire sweeps across me, so I drown
        2.68Against him, die, and find death good.

Notes

1.1] Gilbert suggests that Lawrence based these two on Will Chambers and Jessie (54).

1.9] woodbine: honeysuckle.

1.30] sties: pen, fenced area for livestock.

1.62] stoat: weasel.


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, "Cruelty and Love," Love Poems and Others (London: Duckworth, 1913). dun L397 L694 1913 Fisher Library. Roberts A3. (2) D. H. Lawrence, The Collected Poems, (London: Martin Secker, 1929): II, 23-25. PR 6023 A93A17 1929 Robarts Library. Roberts A43.
First publication date: 1913
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2001/12/28*2:2002/6/7

Composition date: October 1909
Composition date note: Revised Nov. 1927 (Ellis, 569)
Form note: varied couplets, triplets, quatrains, and quintain


Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence