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Title: Bay
       A Book of Poems

Author: D. H. Lawrence

Release Date: September 23, 2007 [EBook #22734]
Last Updated: April 19, 2019

Language: English

Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1

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HTML file produced by David Widger



D.H. Lawrence (1919) _Bay: A Book of Poems_


Transcriber's Note: These poems were first published
by the Beaumont Press in a limited edition. Facsimile
page images from the original publication, including
facsimile images of the original coloured illustrations
by Anne Estelle Rice, are freely available from the
Internet Archive.












BAY

A Book Of Poems

By D. H. Lawrence

1919



TO CYNTHIA ASQUITH






CONTENTS

GUARDS!

EVOLUTIONS OF SOLDIERS

THE LITTLE TOWN AT EVENING

LAST HOURS

TOWN

AFTER THE OPERA

GOING BACK

ON THE MARCH

BOMBARDMENT

WINTER-LULL

THE ATTACK

OBSEQUIAL ODE

SHADES

BREAD UPON THE WATERS.

RUINATION

RONDEAU OF A CONSCIENTIOUS

TOMMIES IN THE TRAIN

WAR-BABY

NOSTALGIA








GUARDS!

     A Review in Hyde Park 1913.
     The Crowd Watches.
WHERE the trees rise like cliffs, proud and
       blue-tinted in the distance,
     Between the cliffs of the trees, on the grey-
       green park
     Rests a still line of soldiers, red motionless range of
       guards
     Smouldering with darkened busbies beneath the bay-
       onets' slant rain.

     Colossal in nearness a blue police sits still on his horse
     Guarding the path; his hand relaxed at his thigh,
     And skyward his face is immobile, eyelids aslant
     In tedium, and mouth relaxed as if smiling—ineffable
     tedium!

     So! So! Gaily a general canters across the space,
     With white plumes blinking under the evening grey
       sky.
     And suddenly, as if the ground moved
     The red range heaves in slow, magnetic reply.








EVOLUTIONS OF SOLDIERS

     The red range heaves and compulsory sways, ah see!
       in the flush of a march
     Softly-impulsive advancing as water towards a weir
       from the arch
     Of shadow emerging as blood emerges from inward
       shades of our night
     Encroaching towards a crisis, a meeting, a spasm and
       throb of delight.

     The wave of soldiers, the coming wave, the throbbing
       red breast of approach
     Upon us; dark eyes as here beneath the busbies glit-
       tering, dark threats that broach
     Our beached vessel; darkened rencontre inhuman, and
       closed warm lips, and dark
     Mouth-hair of soldiers passing above us, over the wreck
       of our bark.

     And so, it is ebb-time, they turn, the eyes beneath the
       busbies are gone.
     But the blood has suspended its timbre, the heart from
       out of oblivion
     Knows but the retreat of the burning shoulders, the
       red-swift waves of the sweet
     Fire horizontal declining and ebbing, the twilit ebb of
       retreat.








THE LITTLE TOWN AT EVENING

THE chime of the bells, and the church clock
       striking eight
     Solemnly and distinctly cries down the babel
       of children still playing in the hay.
     The church draws nearer upon us, gentle and great
     In shadow, covering us up with her grey.

     Like drowsy children the houses fall asleep
     Under the fleece of shadow, as in between
     Tall and dark the church moves, anxious to keep
     Their sleeping, cover them soft unseen.

     Hardly a murmur comes from the sleeping brood,
     I wish the church had covered me up with the rest
     In the home-place. Why is it she should exclude
     Me so distinctly from sleeping with those I love best?








LAST HOURS

THE cool of an oak's unchequered shade
     Falls on me as I lie in deep grass
     Which rushes upward, blade beyond blade,
     While higher the darting grass-flowers pass
     Piercing the blue with their crocketed spires
     And waving flags, and the ragged fires
     Of the sorrel's cresset—a green, brave town
     Vegetable, new in renown.

     Over the tree's edge, as over a mountain
     Surges the white of the moon,
     A cloud comes up like the surge of a fountain,
     Pressing round and low at first, but soon
     Heaving and piling a round white dome.
     How lovely it is to be at home
     Like an insect in the grass
     Letting life pass.

     There's a scent of clover crept through my hair
     From the full resource of some purple dome
     Where that lumbering bee, who can hardly bear
     His burden above me, never has clomb.
     But not even the scent of insouciant flowers
     Makes pause the hours.

     Down the valley roars a townward train.
     I hear it through the grass
     Dragging the links of my shortening chain
     Southwards, alas!








TOWN

LONDON
     Used to wear her lights splendidly,
     Flinging her shawl-fringe over the River,
     Tassels in abandon.

     And up in the sky
     A two-eyed clock, like an owl
     Solemnly used to approve, chime, chiming,
     Approval, goggle-eyed fowl.

     There are no gleams on the River,
     No goggling clock;
     No sound from St. Stephen's;
     No lamp-fringed frock.

     Instead,
     Darkness, and skin-wrapped
     Fleet, hurrying limbs,
     Soft-footed dead.

     London
     Original, wolf-wrapped
     In pelts of wolves, all her luminous
     Garments gone.

     London, with hair
     Like a forest darkness, like a marsh
     Of rushes, ere the Romans
     Broke in her lair.

     It is well
     That London, lair of sudden
     Male and female darknesses
     Has broken her spell.








AFTER THE OPERA

DOWN the stone stairs
     Girls with their large eyes wide with tragedy
     Lift looks of shocked and momentous emotion
       up at me.
     And I smile.

     Ladies
     Stepping like birds with their bright and pointed feet
     Peer anxiously forth, as if for a boat to carry them out
       of the wreckage,
     And among the wreck of the theatre crowd
     I stand and smile.

     They take tragedy so becomingly.
     Which pleases me.

     But when I meet the weary eyes
     The reddened aching eyes of the bar-man with thin
       arms,
     I am glad to go back to where I came from.








GOING BACK

THE NIGHT turns slowly round,
     Swift trains go by in a rush of light;
     Slow trains steal past.
     This train beats anxiously, outward bound.

     But I am not here.
     I am away, beyond the scope of this turning;
     There, where the pivot is, the axis
     Of all this gear.

     I, who sit in tears,
     I, whose heart is torn with parting;
     Who cannot bear to think back to the departure
       platform;
     My spirit hears

     Voices of men
     Sound of artillery, aeroplanes, presences,
     And more than all, the dead-sure silence,
     The pivot again.

     There, at the axis
     Pain, or love, or grief
     Sleep on speed; in dead certainty;
     Pure relief.

     There, at the pivot
     Time sleeps again.
     No has-been, no here-after; only the perfected
     Silence of men.








ON THE MARCH

WE are out on the open road.
     Through the low west window a cold light
       flows
     On the floor where never my numb feet trode
     Before; onward the strange road goes.

     Soon the spaces of the western sky
     With shutters of sombre cloud will close.
     But we'll still be together, this road and I,
     Together, wherever the long road goes.

     The wind chases by us, and over the corn
     Pale shadows flee from us as if from their foes.
     Like a snake we thresh on the long, forlorn
     Land, as onward the long road goes.

     From the sky, the low, tired moon fades out;
     Through the poplars the night-wind blows;
     Pale, sleepy phantoms are tossed about
     As the wind asks whither the wan road goes.

     Away in the distance wakes a lamp.
     Inscrutable small lights glitter in rows.
     But they come no nearer, and still we tramp
     Onward, wherever the strange road goes.

     Beat after beat falls sombre and dull.
     The wind is unchanging, not one of us knows
     What will be in the final lull
     When we find the place where this dead road goes.

     For something must come, since we pass and pass
     Along in the coiled, convulsive throes
     Of this marching, along with the invisible grass
     That goes wherever this old road goes.

     Perhaps we shall come to oblivion.
     Perhaps we shall march till our tired toes
     Tread over the edge of the pit, and we're gone
     Down the endless slope where the last road goes.

     If so, let us forge ahead, straight on
     If we're going to sleep the sleep with those
     That fall forever, knowing none
     Of this land whereon the wrong road goes.








BOMBARDMENT

THE TOWN has opened to the sun.
     Like a flat red lily with a million petals
     She unfolds, she comes undone.

     A sharp sky brushes upon
     The myriad glittering chimney-tips
     As she gently exhales to the sun.

     Hurrying creatures run
     Down the labyrinth of the sinister flower.
     What is it they shun?

     A dark bird falls from the sun.
     It curves in a rush to the heart of the vast
     Flower: the day has begun.








WINTER-LULL

     Because of the silent snow, we are all hushed
               Into awe.
     No sound of guns, nor overhead no rushed
               Vibration to draw
     Our attention out of the void wherein we are crushed.

     A crow floats past on level wings
               Noiselessly.
     Uninterrupted silence swings
               Invisibly, inaudibly
     To and fro in our misgivings.

     We do not look at each other, we hide
               Our daunted eyes.
     White earth, and ruins, ourselves, and nothing beside.
               It all belies
     Our existence; we wait, and are still denied.

     We are folded together, men and the snowy ground
               Into nullity.
     There is silence, only the silence, never a sound
               Nor a verity
     To assist us; disastrously silence-bound!








THE ATTACK

WHEN we came out of the wood
     Was a great light!
     The night uprisen stood
     In white.

     I wondered, I looked around
     It was so fair. The bright
     Stubble upon the ground
     Shone white

     Like any field of snow;
     Yet warm the chase
     Of faint night-breaths did go
     Across my face!

     White-bodied and warm the night was,
     Sweet-scented to hold in my throat.
     White and alight the night was.
     A pale stroke smote

     The pulse through the whole bland being
     Which was This and me;
     A pulse that still went fleeing,
     Yet did not flee.

     After the terrible rage, the death,
     This wonder stood glistening?
     All shapes of wonder, with suspended breath,
     Arrested listening

     In ecstatic reverie.
     The whole, white Night!—
     With wonder, every black tree
     Blossomed outright.

     I saw the transfiguration
     And the present Host.
     Transubstantiation
     Of the Luminous Ghost.








OBSEQUIAL ODE

SURELY you've trodden straight
     To the very door!
     Surely you took your fate
     Faultlessly. Now it's too late
     To say more.

         It is evident you were right,
         That man has a course to go
     A voyage to sail beyond the charted seas.
     You have passed from out of sight
         And my questions blow
     Back from the straight horizon that ends all one sees.

         Now like a vessel in port
         You unlade your riches unto death,
     And glad are the eager dead to receive you there.
         Let the dead sort
     Your cargo out, breath from breath
     Let them disencumber your bounty, let them all share.

         I imagine dead hands are brighter,
         Their fingers in sunset shine
     With jewels of passion once broken through you as a
       prism
     Breaks light into jewels; and dead breasts whiter
         For your wrath; and yes, I opine
     They anoint their brows with your blood, as a perfect
       chrism.

         On your body, the beaten anvil,
         Was hammered out
     That moon-like sword the ascendant dead unsheathe
     Against us; sword that no man will
         Put to rout;
     Sword that severs the question from us who breathe.

     Surely you've trodden straight
         To the very door.
     You have surely achieved your fate;
     And the perfect dead are elate
         To have won once more.

     Now to the dead you are giving
         Your last allegiance.
     But what of us who are living
     And fearful yet of believing
         In your pitiless legions.








SHADES

SHALL I tell you, then, how it is?—
     There came a cloven gleam
     Like a tongue of darkened flame
     To flicker in me.

     And so I seem
     To have you still the same
     In one world with me.

     In the flicker of a flower,
     In a worm that is blind, yet strives,
     In a mouse that pauses to listen

     Glimmers our
     Shadow; yet it deprives
     Them none of their glisten.

     In every shaken morsel
     I see our shadow tremble
     As if it rippled from out of us hand in hand.

     As if it were part and parcel,
     One shadow, and we need not dissemble
     Our darkness: do you understand?

     For I have told you plainly how it is.








BREAD UPON THE WATERS.

SO you are lost to me!
     Ah you, you ear of corn straight lying,
     What food is this for the darkly flying
     Fowls of the Afterwards!

     White bread afloat on the waters,
     Cast out by the hand that scatters
     Food untowards,

     Will you come back when the tide turns?
     After many days? My heart yearns
     To know.

     Will you return after many days
     To say your say as a traveller says,
     More marvel than woe?

     Drift then, for the sightless birds
     And the fish in shadow-waved herds
     To approach you.

     Drift then, bread cast out;
     Drift, lest I fall in doubt,
     And reproach you.

     For you are lost to me!








RUINATION

THE sun is bleeding its fires upon the mist
     That huddles in grey heaps coiling and holding
       back.
     Like cliffs abutting in shadow a drear grey sea
     Some street-ends thrust forward their stack.

     On the misty waste-lands, away from the flushing grey
     Of the morning the elms are loftily dimmed, and tall
     As if moving in air towards us, tall angels
     Of darkness advancing steadily over us all.








RONDEAU OF A CONSCIENTIOUS

OBJECTOR.

THE hours have tumbled their leaden, mono-
       tonous sands
     And piled them up in a dull grey heap in the
       West.
     I carry my patience sullenly through the waste lands;
     To-morrow will pour them all back, the dull hours I
       detest.

     I force my cart through the sodden filth that is pressed
     Into ooze, and the sombre dirt spouts up at my hands
     As I make my way in twilight now to rest.
     The hours have tumbled their leaden, monotonous
       sands.

     A twisted thorn-tree still in the evening stands
     Defending the memory of leaves and the happy round
       nest.
     But mud has flooded the homes of these weary lands
     And piled them up in a dull grey heap in the West.

     All day has the clank of iron on iron distressed
     The nerve-bare place. Now a little silence expands
     And a gasp of relief. But the soul is still compressed:
     I carry my patience sullenly through the waste lands.

     The hours have ceased to fall, and a star commands
     Shadows to cover our stricken manhood, and blest
     Sleep to make us forget: but he understands:
     To-morrow will pour them all back, the dull hours
       I detest.








TOMMIES IN THE TRAIN

THE SUN SHINES,
     The coltsfoot flowers along the railway banks
     Shine like flat coin which Jove in thanks
     Strews each side the lines.

     A steeple
     In purple elms, daffodils
     Sparkle beneath; luminous hills
     Beyond—and no people.

     England, Oh DanaŽ
     To this spring of cosmic gold
     That falls on your lap of mould!
     What then are we?

     What are we
     Clay-coloured, who roll in fatigue
     As the train falls league by league
     From our destiny?

     A hand is over my face,
     A cold hand. I peep between the fingers
     To watch the world that lingers
     Behind, yet keeps pace.

     Always there, as I peep
     Between the fingers that cover my face!
     Which then is it that falls from its place
     And rolls down the steep?

     Is it the train
     That falls like meteorite
     Backward into space, to alight
     Never again?

     Or is it the illusory world
     That falls from reality
     As we look? Or are we
     Like a thunderbolt hurled?

     One or another
     Is lost, since we fall apart
     Endlessly, in one motion depart
     From each other.








WAR-BABY

THE CHILD like mustard-seed
     Rolls out of the husk of death
        Into the woman's fertile, fathomless lap.

     Look, it has taken root!
     See how it flourisheth.
        See how it rises with magical, rosy sap!

     As for our faith, it was there
     When we did not know, did not care;
        It fell from our husk like a little, hasty seed.

     Sing, it is all we need.
     Sing, for the little weed
        Will flourish its branches in heaven when we
          slumber beneath.








NOSTALGIA

THE WANING MOON looks upward; this
        grey night
     Slopes round the heavens in one smooth curve
     Of easy sailing; odd red wicks serve
     To show where the ships at sea move out of sight.

     The place is palpable me, for here I was born
     Of this self-same darkness. Yet the shadowy house
        below
     Is out of bounds, and only the old ghosts know
     I have come, I feel them whimper in welcome, and
        mourn.

     My father suddenly died in the harvesting corn
     And the place is no longer ours. Watching, I hear
     No sound from the strangers, the place is dark, and fear
     Opens my eyes till the roots of my vision seems torn.

     Can I go no nearer, never towards the door?
     The ghosts and I we mourn together, and shrink
     In the shadow of the cart-shed. Must we hover on
        the brink
     Forever, and never enter the homestead any more?

     Is it irrevocable? Can I really not go
     Through the open yard-way? Can I not go past the
        sheds
     And through to the mowie?—Only the dead in their
        beds
     Can know the fearful anguish that this is so.

     I kiss the stones, I kiss the moss on the wall,
     And wish I could pass impregnate into the place.
     I wish I could take it all in a last embrace.
     I wish with my breast I here could annihilate it all.








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