David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)
1When did you start your tricks
3What do you stand on such high legs for?
4Why this length of shredded shank
6Is it so that you shall lift your centre of gravity upwards
7And weigh no more than air as you alight upon me,
8Stand upon me weightless, you phantom?
9I heard a woman call you the Winged Victory
10In sluggish Venice.
11You turn your head towards your tail, and smile.
12How can you put so much devilry
13Into that translucent phantom shred
14Of a frail corpus?
15Queer, with your thin wings and your streaming legs
16How you sail like a heron, or a dull clot of air,
18Yet what an aura surrounds you;
19Your evil little aura, prowling, and casting a numbness on my mind.
20That is your trick, your bit of filthy magic:
21Invisibility, and the anæsthetic power
22To deaden my attention in your direction.
23But I know your game now, streaky sorcerer.
24Queer, how you stalk and prowl the air
25In circles and evasions, enveloping me,
26Ghoul on wings
28Settle, and stand on long thin shanks
29Eyeing me sideways, and cunningly conscious that I am aware,
31I hate the way you lurch off sideways into air
32Having read my thoughts against you.
33Come then, let us play at unawares,
34And see who wins in this sly game of bluff.
35Man or mosquito.
36You don't know that I exist, and I don't know that you exist.
38It is your trump
39It is your hateful little trump
40You pointed fiend,
41Which shakes my sudden blood to hatred of you:
42It is your small, high, hateful bugle in my ear.
43Why do you do it?
44Surely it is bad policy.
45They say you can't help it.
46If that is so, then I believe a little in Providence protecting the innocent.
47But it sounds so amazingly like a slogan
48A yell of triumph as you snatch my scalp.
49Blood, red blood
52I behold you stand
53For a second enspasmed in oblivion,
55Sucking live blood
57Such silence, such suspended transport,
59Such obscenity of trespass.
61As well as you may.
62Only your accursed hairy frailty
63Your own imponderable weightlessness
64Saves you, wafts you away on the very draught my anger makes in its snatching.
65Away with a pæan of derision
66You winged blood-drop.
67Can I not overtake you?
68Are you one too many for me
70Am I not mosquito enough to out-mosquito you?
71Queer, what a big stain my sucked blood makes
72Beside the infinitesimal faint smear of you!
73Queer, what a dim dark smudge you have disappeared into!
9] Winged Victory: Victory of Samothrace, a statue of Nike (daughter of Pallas and the River Styx), erected by the Rhodians in 203 BC, discovered in 1863, and now in the Louvre.
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): 89-92. PR 6023 A93B5 1923 Robarts Library. Roberts A27.
First publication date:
Publication date note: Bookman 53 (July 1921): 430-31. Roberts C81
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/8
Composition date note: See Kinkead-Weekes, 747
Form: Free Verse
Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence