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Short poem

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

The Mosquito

              1When did you start your tricks

              3What do you stand on such high legs for?
              4Why this length of shredded shank
              5You exaltation?

              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,
            17A nothingness.

            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
            27Winged Victory.

            28Settle, and stand on long thin shanks
            29Eyeing me sideways, and cunningly conscious that I am aware,
            30You speck.

            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.
            37Now then!

            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
            51Forbidden liquor.

            52I behold you stand
            53For a second enspasmed in oblivion,
            54Obscenely ecstasied
            55Sucking live blood
            56My blood.

            57Such silence, such suspended transport,
            58Such gorging,
            59Such obscenity of trespass.

            60You stagger
            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
            69Winged Victory?
            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: 1921
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: April 1920 - August 1920
Composition date note: See Kinkead-Weekes, 747
Form: Free Verse

Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence