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Short poem

David Herbert Lawrence (1885-1930)

Whales Weep Not!

              1They say the sea is cold, but the sea contains
              2the hottest blood of all, and the wildest, the most urgent.

              3All the whales in the wider deeps, hot are they, as they urge
              4on and on, and dive beneath the icebergs.
              5The right whales, the sperm-whales, the hammer-heads, the killers
              6there they blow, there they blow, hot wild white breath out of the sea!

              7And they rock, and they rock, through the sensual ageless ages
              8on the depths of the seven seas,
              9and through the salt they reel with drunk delight
            10and in the tropics tremble they with love
            11and roll with massive, strong desire, like gods.
            12Then the great bull lies up against his bride
            13in the blue deep of the sea

            14as mountain pressing on mountain, in the zest of life:
            15and out of the inward roaring of the inner red ocean of whale blood
            16the long tip reaches strong, intense, like the maelstrom-tip, and comes to rest
            17in the clasp and the soft, wild clutch of a she-whale's fathomless body.

            18And over the bridge of the whale's strong phallus, linking the wonder of whales
            19the burning archangels under the sea keep passing, back and forth,
            20keep passing archangels of bliss
            21from him to her, from her to him, great Cherubim
            22that wait on whales in mid-ocean, suspended in the waves of the sea
            23great heaven of whales in the waters, old hierarchies.
            24And enormous mother whales lie dreaming suckling their whale-tender young
            25and dreaming with strange whale eyes wide open in the waters of the beginning and the end.

            26And bull-whales gather their women and whale-calves in a ring
            27when danger threatens, on the surface of the ceaseless flood
            28and range themselves like great fierce Seraphim facing the threat
            29encircling their huddled monsters of love.
            30and all this happiness in the sea, in the salt
            31where God is also love, but without words:
            32and Aphrodite is the wife of whales
            33most happy, happy she!

            34and Venus among the fishes skips and is a she-dolphin
            35she is the gay, delighted porpoise sporting with love and the sea
            36she is the female tunny-fish, round and happy among the males

            37and dense with happy blood, dark rainbow bliss in the sea.


1] The first two lines are quoted by Captain Kirk in the film Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home (1986), where the intrepid Enterprise ventures back in time to save the Earth by re-establishing the humpback whale in its oceans so that an alien ship may communicate with them.
Gilbert says that Melville's Moby Dick, especially chapters 87 and 132, influences Lawrence's memory of whaleshere (280-81).

21] Cherubim: order of angels renowned for their knowledge.

28] Seraphim: order of angels renowned for their love.

32] Aphrodite: Venus, Greek goddess of love, born of the ocean foam.

36] tunny-fish: tuna.

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, Last Poems, ed. Richard Aldington (London: Martin Secker, 1933): 33-35. PR 6023 A93 A17 Robarts Library
First publication date: 1933
Publication date note: See Roberts A62
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: RPO 2000.
Recent editing: 4:2002/1/12

Composition date: October 1929
Composition date note: See Ellis, 802
Form: Free Verse

Other poems by David Herbert Lawrence