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Best Famous D H Lawrence Poems

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Written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Create an image from this poem

Wild Dreams Of A New Beginning

 There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs
Lives cross lives
idling at stoplights
Beyond the cloverleaf turnoffs
'Souls eat souls in the general emptiness'
A piano concerto comes out a kitchen window
A yogi speaks at Ojai
'It's all taking pace in one mind'
On the lawn among the trees
lovers are listening
for the master to tell them they are one
with the universe
Eyes smell flowers and become them
There's a deathless hush
on the freeway tonight
as a Pacific tidal wave a mile high
sweeps in
Los Angeles breathes its last gas
and sinks into the sea like the Titanic all lights lit
Nine minutes later Willa Cather's Nebraska
sinks with it
The sea comes over in Utah
Mormon tabernacles washed away like barnacles
Coyotes are confounded & swim nowhere
An orchestra onstage in Omaha
keeps on playing Handel's Water Music
Horns fill with water
ans bass players float away on their instruments
clutching them like lovers horizontal
Chicago's Loop becomes a rollercoaster
Skyscrapers filled like water glasses
Great Lakes mixed with Buddhist brine
Great Books watered down in Evanston
Milwaukee beer topped with sea foam
Beau Fleuve of Buffalo suddenly become salt
Manhatten Island swept clean in sixteen seconds
buried masts of Amsterdam arise
as the great wave sweeps on Eastward
to wash away over-age Camembert Europe
manhatta steaming in sea-vines
the washed land awakes again to wilderness
the only sound a vast thrumming of crickets
a cry of seabirds high over
in empty eternity
as the Hudson retakes its thickets
and Indians reclaim their canoes
Written by Ernest Lawrence Thayer | Create an image from this poem

Casey At The Bat

The outlook wasn't brilliant for the Mudville nine that day, 
The score stood four to two, with but one inning more to play.
And then when Cooney died at first, and Barrows did the same, A pall-like silence fell upon the patrons of the game.
A straggling few got up to go in deep despair.
The rest clung to that hope which springs eternal in the human breast.
They thought, "if only Casey could but get a whack at that.
We'd put up even money now, with Casey at the bat.
" But Flynn preceded Casey, as did also Jimmy Blake; and the former was a hoodoo, while the latter was a cake.
So upon that stricken multitude, grim melancholy sat; for there seemed but little chance of Casey getting to the bat.
But Flynn let drive a single, to the wonderment of all.
And Blake, the much despised, tore the cover off the ball.
And when the dust had lifted, and men saw what had occurred, there was Jimmy safe at second and Flynn a-hugging third.
Then from five thousand throats and more there rose a lusty yell; it rumbled through the valley, it rattled in the dell; it pounded through on the mountain and recoiled upon the flat; for Casey, mighty Casey, was advancing to the bat.
There was ease in Casey's manner as he stepped into his place, there was pride in Casey's bearing and a smile lit Casey's face.
And when, responding to the cheers, he lightly doffed his hat, no stranger in the crowd could doubt t'was Casey at the bat.
Ten thousand eyes were on him as he rubbed his hands with dirt.
Five thousand tongues applauded when he wiped them on his shirt.
Then, while the writhing pitcher ground the ball into his hip, defiance flashed in Casey's eye, a sneer curled Casey's lip.
And now the leather-covered sphere came hurtling through the air, and Casey stood a-watching it in haughty grandeur there.
Close by the sturdy batsman the ball unheeded sped -- "That ain't my style," said Casey.
"Strike one!" the umpire said.
From the benches, black with people, there went up a muffled roar, like the beating of the storm waves on a stern and distant shore.
"Kill him! Kill the umpire!" shouted someone on the stand, and it's likely they'd have killed him had not Casey raised his hand.
With a smile of Christian charity, great Casey's visage shone, he stilled the rising tumult, he bade the game go on.
He signaled to the pitcher, and once more the dun sphere flew, but Casey still ignored it, and the umpire said, "Strike two!" "Fraud!" cried the maddened thousands, and echo answered "Fraud!" But one scornful look from Casey and the audience was awed.
They saw his face grow stern and cold, they saw his muscles strain, and they knew that Casey wouldn't let that ball go by again.
The sneer has fled from Casey's lip, the teeth are clenched in hate.
He pounds, with cruel violence, his bat upon the plate.
And now the pitcher holds the ball, and now he lets it go, and now the air is shattered by the force of Casey's blow.
Oh, somewhere in this favored land the sun is shining bright.
The band is playing somewhere, and somewhere hearts are light.
And, somewhere men are laughing, and little children shout, but there is no joy in Mudville mighty Casey has struck out.
Written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Create an image from this poem

Bird With Two Right Wings

 And now our government
a bird with two right wings
flies on from zone to zone
while we go on having our little fun & games
at each election
as if it really mattered who the pilot is
of Air Force One
(They're interchangeable, stupid!)
While this bird with two right wings
flies right on with its corporate flight crew
And this year its the Great Movie Cowboy in the cockpit
And next year its the great Bush pilot
And now its the Chameleon Kid
and he keeps changing the logo on his captains cap
and now its a donkey and now an elephant
and now some kind of donkephant
And now we recognize two of the crew
who took out a contract on America
and one is a certain gringo wretch
who's busy monkeywrenching
crucial parts of the engine
and its life-support systems
and they got a big fat hose
to siphon off the fuel to privatized tanks
And all the while we just sit there
in the passenger seats
without parachutes
listening to all the news that's fit to air
over the one-way PA system
about how the contract on America
is really good for us etcetera
As all the while the plane lumbers on
into its postmodern
manifest destiny
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Anxiety

 The hoar-frost crumbles in the sun, 
The crisping steam of a train 
Melts in the air, while two black birds 
Sweep past the window again.
Along the vacant road, a red Bicycle approaches; I wait In a thaw of anxiety, for the boy To leap down at our gate.
He has passed us by; but is it Relief that starts in my breast? Or a deeper bruise of knowing that still She has no rest.
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Snake

 A snake came to my water-trough
On a hot, hot day, and I in pyjamas for the heat,
To drink there.
In the deep, strange-scented shade of the great dark carob-tree I came down the steps with my pitcher And must wait, must stand and wait, for there he was at the trough before me.
He reached down from a fissure in the earth-wall in the gloom And trailed his yellow-brown slackness soft-bellied down, over the edge of the stone trough And rested his throat upon the stone bottom, And where the water had dripped from the tap, in a small clearness, He sipped with his straight mouth, Softly drank through his straight gums, into his slack long body, Silently.
Someone was before me at my water-trough, And I, like a second comer, waiting.
He lifted his head from his drinking, as cattle do, And looked at me vaguely, as drinking cattle do, And flickered his two-forked tongue from his lips, and mused a moment, And stooped and drank a little more, Being earth-brown, earth-golden from the burning bowels of the earth On the day of Sicilian July, with Etna smoking.
The voice of my education said to me He must be killed, For in Sicily the black, black snakes are innocent, the gold are venomous.
And voices in me said, If you were a man You would take a stick and break him now, and finish him off.
But must I confess how I liked him, How glad I was he had come like a guest in quiet, to drink at my water-trough And depart peaceful, pacified, and thankless, Into the burning bowels of this earth? Was it cowardice, that I dared not kill him? Was it perversity, that I longed to talk to him? Was it humility, to feel so honoured? I felt so honoured.
And yet those voices: If you were not afraid, you would kill him! And truly I was afraid, I was most afraid, But even so, honoured still more That he should seek my hospitality From out the dark door of the secret earth.
He drank enough And lifted his head, dreamily, as one who has drunken, And flickered his tongue like a forked night on the air, so black, Seeming to lick his lips, And looked around like a god, unseeing, into the air, And slowly turned his head, And slowly, very slowly, as if thrice adream, Proceeded to draw his slow length curving round And climb again the broken bank of my wall-face.
And as he put his head into that dreadful hole, And as he slowly drew up, snake-easing his shoulders, and entered farther, A sort of horror, a sort of protest against his withdrawing into that horrid black hole, Deliberately going into the blackness, and slowly drawing himself after, Overcame me now his back was turned.
I looked round, I put down my pitcher, I picked up a clumsy log And threw it at the water-trough with a clatter.
I think it did not hit him, But suddenly that part of him that was left behind convulsed in undignified haste.
Writhed like lightning, and was gone Into the black hole, the earth-lipped fissure in the wall-front, At which, in the intense still noon, I stared with fascination.
And immediately I regretted it.
I thought how paltry, how vulgar, what a mean act! I despised myself and the voices of my accursed human education.
And I thought of the albatross And I wished he would come back, my snake.
For he seemed to me again like a king, Like a king in exile, uncrowned in the underworld, Now due to be crowned again.
And so, I missed my chance with one of the lords Of life.
And I have something to expiate: A pettiness.
Taormina, 1923
Written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Create an image from this poem

Number 8

 It was a face which darkness could kill
     in an instant
a face as easily hurt
   by laughter or light

 'We think differently at night'
     she told me once
lying back languidly

   And she would quote Cocteau

'I feel there is an angel in me' she'd say
    'whom I am constantly shocking'

 Then she would smile and look away 
 light a cigarette for me
    sigh and rise

and stretch
 her sweet anatomy

   let fall a stocking
Written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Create an image from this poem

Constantly Risking Absurdity

 Constantly risking absurdity
and death
whenever he performs
above the heads
of his audience
the poet like an acrobat
climbs on rime
to a high wire of his own making
and balancing on eyebeams
above a sea of faces
paces his way
to the other side of the day
performing entrachats
and sleight-of-foot tricks
and other high theatrics
and all without mistaking
any thing
for what it may not be
For he's the super realist
who must perforce perceive
taut truth
before the taking of each stance or step
in his supposed advance
toward that still higher perch
where Beauty stands and waits
with gravity
to start her death-defying leap
And he
a little charleychaplin man
who may or may not catch
her fair eternal form
spreadeagled in the empty air
of existence
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Snap-Dragon

 She bade me follow to her garden where 
The mellow sunlight stood as in a cup 
Between the old grey walls; I did not dare 
To raise my face, I did not dare look up 
Lest her bright eyes like sparrows should fly in 
My windows of discovery and shrill 'Sin!' 

So with a downcast mien and laughing voice 
I followed, followed the swing of her white dress 
That rocked in a lilt along: I watched the poise 
Of her feet as they flew for a space, then paused to press 
The grass deep down with the royal burden of her: 
And gladly I'd offered my breast to the tread of her.
'I like to see,' she said, and she crouched her down, She sunk into my sight like a settling bird; And her bosom crouched in the confines of her gown Like heavy birds at rest there, softly stirred By her measured breaths: 'I like to see,' said she, 'The snap-dragon put out his tongue at me.
' She laughed, she reached her hand out to the flower Closing its crimson throat: my own throat in her power Strangled, my heart swelled up so full As if it would burst its wineskin in my throat, Choke me in my own crimson; I watched her pull The gorge of the gaping flower, till the blood did float Over my eyes and I was blind -- Her large brown hand stretched over The windows of my mind, And in the dark I did discover Things I was out to find: My grail, a brown bowl twined With swollen veins that met in the wrist, Under whose brown the amethyst I longed to taste: and I longed to turn My heart's red measure in her cup, I longed to feel my hot blood burn With the lambent amethyst in her cup.
Then suddenly she looked up And I was blind in a tawny-gold day Till she took her eyes away.
Written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Create an image from this poem

The Plough Of Time

 Night closed my windows and
The sky became a crystal house
The crystal windows glowed
The moon
shown through them
through the whole house of crystal
A single star beamed down
its crystal cable
and drew a plough through the earth
unearthing bodies clasped together
couples embracing
around the earth
They clung together everywhere
emitting small cries
that did not reach the stars
The crystal earth turned
and the bodies with it
And the sky did not turn
nor the stars with it
The stars remained fixed
each with its crystal cable
beamed to earth
each attached to the immense plough
furrowing our lives
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Blue

 The earth again like a ship steams out of the dark sea over
The edge of the blue, and the sun stands up to see us glide
Slowly into another day; slowly the rover 
Vessel of darkness takes the rising tide.
I, on the deck, am startled by this dawn confronting Me who am issued amazed from the darkness, stripped And quailing here in the sunshine, delivered from haunting The night unsounded whereon our days are shipped.
Feeling myself undawning, the day’s light playing upon me, I who am substance of shadow, I all compact Of the stuff of the night, finding myself all wrongly Among the crowds of things in the sunshine jostled and racked.
I with the night on my lips, I sigh with the silence of death; And what do I care though the very stones should cry me unreal, though the clouds Shine in conceit of substance upon me, who am less than the rain.
Do I know the darkness within them? What are they but shrouds? The clouds go down the sky with a wealthy ease Casting a shadow of scorn upon me for my share in death; but I Hold my own in the midst of them, darkling, defy The whole of the day to extinguish the shadow I lift on the breeze.
Yea, though the very clouds have vantage over me, Enjoying their glancing flight, though my love is dead, I still am not homeless here, I’ve a tent by day Of darkness where she sleeps on her perfect bed.
And I know the host, the minute sparkling of darkness Which vibrates untouched and virile through the grandeur of night, But which, when dawn crows challenge, assaulting the vivid motes Of living darkness, bursts fretfully, and is bright: Runs like a fretted arc-lamp into light, Stirred by conflict to shining, which else Were dark and whole with the night.
Runs to a fret of speed like a racing wheel, Which else were aslumber along with the whole Of the dark, swinging rhythmic instead of a-reel.
Is chafed to anger, bursts into rage like thunder; Which else were a silent grasp that held the heavens Arrested, beating thick with wonder.
Leaps like a fountain of blue sparks leaping In a jet from out of obscurity, Which erst was darkness sleeping.
Runs into streams of bright blue drops, Water and stones and stars, and myriads Of twin-blue eyes, and crops Of floury grain, and all the hosts of day, All lovely hosts of ripples caused by fretting The Darkness into play.
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Tortoise Shout

 I thought he was dumb, said he was dumb,
Yet I've heard him cry.
First faint scream, Out of life's unfathomable dawn, Far off, so far, like a madness, under the horizon's dawning rim, Far, far off, far scream.
Tortoise in extremis.
Why were we crucified into sex? Why were we not left rounded off, and finished in ourselves, As we began, As he certainly began, so perfectly alone? A far, was-it-audible scream, Or did it sound on the plasm direct? Worse than the cry of the new-born, A scream, A yell, A shout, A paean, A death-agony, A birth-cry, A submission, All tiny, tiny, far away, reptile under the first dawn.
War-cry, triumph, acute-delight, death-scream reptilian, Why was the veil torn? The silken shriek of the soul's torn membrane? The male soul's membrane Torn with a shriek half music, half horror.
Crucifixion.
Male tortoise, cleaving behind the hovel-wall of that dense female, Mounted and tense, spread-eagle, out-reaching out of the shell In tortoise-nakedness, Long neck, and long vulnerable limbs extruded, spreadeagle over her house-roof, And the deep, secret, all-penetrating tail curved beneath her walls, Reaching and gripping tense, more reaching anguish in uttermost tension Till suddenly, in the spasm of coition, tupping like a jerking leap, and oh! Opening its clenched face from his outstretched neck And giving that fragile yell, that scream, Super-audible, From his pink, cleft, old-man's mouth, Giving up the ghost, Or screaming in Pentecost, receiving the ghost.
His scream, and his moment's subsidence, The moment of eternal silence, Yet unreleased, and after the moment, the sudden, startling jerk of coition, and at once The inexpressible faint yell -- And so on, till the last plasm of my body was melted back To the primeval rudiments of life, and the secret.
So he tups, and screams Time after time that frail, torn scream After each jerk, the longish interval, The tortoise eternity, Age-long, reptilian persistence, Heart-throb, slow heart-throb, persistent for the next spasm.
I remember, when I was a boy, I heard the scream of a frog, which was caught with his foot in the mouth of an up-starting snake; I remember when I first heard bull-frogs break into sound in the spring; I remember hearing a wild goose out of the throat of night Cry loudly, beyond the lake of waters; I remember the first time, out of a bush in the darkness, a nightingale's piercing cries and gurgles startled the depths of my soul; I remember the scream of a rabbit as I went through a wood at midnight; I remember the heifer in her heat, blorting and blorting through the hours, persistent and irrepressible, I remember my first terror hearing the howl of weird, amorous cats; I remember the scream of a terrified, injured horse, the sheet-lightning, And running away from the sound of a woman in labour, something like an owl whooing, And listening inwardly to the first bleat of a lamb, The first wail of an infant, And my mother singing to herself, And the first tenor singing of the passionate throat of a young collier, who has long since drunk himself to death, The first elements of foreign speech On wild dark lips.
And more than all these, And less than all these, This last, Strange, faint coition yell Of the male tortoise at extremity, Tiny from under the very edge of the farthest far-off horizon of life.
The cross, The wheel on which our silence first is broken, Sex, which breaks up our integrity, our single inviolability, our deep silence, Tearing a cry from us.
Sex, which breaks us into voice, sets us calling across the deeps, calling, calling for the complement, Singing, and calling, and singing again, being answered, having found.
Torn, to become whole again, after long seeking for what is lost, The same cry from the tortoise as from Christ, the Osiris-cry of abandonment, That which is whole, torn asunder, That which is in part, finding its whole again throughout the universe.
Written by Lawrence Ferlinghetti | Create an image from this poem

A Vast Confusion

 Long long I lay in the sands

Sounds of trains in the surf
in subways of the sea
And an even greater undersound
of a vast confusion in the universe
a rumbling and a roaring
as of some enormous creature turning
under sea and earth
a billion sotto voices murmuring
a vast muttering
a swelling stuttering
in ocean's speakers
world's voice-box heard with ear to sand
a shocked echoing
a shocking shouting
of all life's voices lost in night
And the tape of it
someow running backwards now
through the Moog Synthesizer of time
Chaos unscrambled
back to the first
harmonies
And the first light
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

A Sane Revolution

 If you make a revolution, make it for fun,
don't make it in ghastly seriousness,
don't do it in deadly earnest,
do it for fun.
Don't do it because you hate people, do it just to spit in their eye.
Don't do it for the money, do it and be damned to the money.
Don't do it for equality, do it because we've got too much equality and it would be fun to upset the apple-cart and see which way the apples would go a-rolling.
Don't do it for the working classes.
Do it so that we can all of us be little aristocracies on our own and kick our heels like jolly escaped asses.
Don't do it, anyhow, for international Labour.
Labour is the one thing a man has had too much of.
Let's abolish labour, let's have done with labouring! Work can be fun, and men can enjoy it; then it's not labour.
Let's have it so! Let's make a revolution for fun!
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Craving for Spring

 I wish it were spring in the world.
Let it be spring! Come, bubbling, surging tide of sap! Come, rush of creation! Come, life! surge through this mass of mortification! Come, sweep away these exquisite, ghastly first-flowers, which are rather last-flowers! Come, thaw down their cool portentousness, dissolve them: snowdrops, straight, death-veined exhalations of white and purple crocuses, flowers of the penumbra, issue of corruption, nourished in mortification, jets of exquisite finality; Come, spring, make havoc of them! I trample on the snowdrops, it gives me pleasure to tread down the jonquils, to destroy the chill Lent lilies; for I am sick of them, their faint-bloodedness, slow-blooded, icy-fleshed, portentous.
I want the fine, kindling wine-sap of spring, gold, and of inconceivably fine, quintessential brightness, rare almost as beams, yet overwhelmingly potent, strong like the greatest force of world-balancing.
This is the same that picks up the harvest of wheat and rocks it, tons of grain, on the ripening wind; the same that dangles the globe-shaped pleiads of fruit temptingly in mid-air, between a playful thumb and finger; oh, and suddenly, from out of nowhere, whirls the pear-bloom, upon us, and apple- and almond- and apricot- and quince-blossom, storms and cumulus clouds of all imaginable blossom about our bewildered faces, though we do not worship.
I wish it were spring cunningly blowing on the fallen sparks, odds and ends of the old, scattered fire, and kindling shapely little conflagrations curious long-legged foals, and wide-eared calves, and naked sparrow-bubs.
I wish that spring would start the thundering traffic of feet new feet on the earth, beating with impatience.
I wish it were spring, thundering delicate, tender spring.
I wish these brittle, frost-lovely flowers of passionate, mysterious corruption were not yet to come still more from the still-flickering discontent.
Oh, in the spring, the bluebell bows him down for very exuberance, exulting with secret warm excess, bowed down with his inner magnificence! Oh, yes, the gush of spring is strong enough to toss the globe of earth like a ball on a water-jet dancing sportfully; as you see a tiny celluloid ball tossing on a squirt of water for men to shoot at, penny-a-time, in a booth at a fair.
The gush of spring is strong enough to play with the globe of earth like a ball on a fountain; At the same time it opens the tiny hands of the hazel with such infinite patience.
The power of the rising, golden, all-creative sap could take the earth and heave it off among the stars, into the invisible; the same sets the throstle at sunset on a bough singing against the blackbird; comes out in the hesitating tremor of the primrose, and betrays its candour in the round white strawberry flower, is dignified in the foxglove, like a Red-Indian brave.
Ah come, come quickly, spring! come and lift us towards our culmination, we myriads; we who have never flowered, like patient cactuses.
Come and lift us to our end, to blossom, bring us to our summer we who are winter-weary in the winter of the of the world.
Come making the chaffinch nests hollow and cosy, come and soften the willow buds till they are puffed and furred, then blow them over with gold.
Coma and cajole the gawky colt’s-foot flowers.
Come quickly, and vindicate us.
against too much death.
Come quickly, and stir the rotten globe of the world from within, burst it with germination, with world anew.
Come now, to us, your adherents, who cannot flower from the ice.
All the world gleams with the lilies of death the Unconquerable, but come, give us our turn.
Enough of the virgins and lilies, of passionate, suffocating perfume of corruption, no more narcissus perfume, lily harlots, the blades of sensation piercing the flesh to blossom of death.
Have done, have done with this shuddering, delicious business of thrilling ruin in the flesh, of pungent passion, of rare, death-edged ecstasy.
Give us our turn, give us a chance, let our hour strike, O soon, soon! Let the darkness turn violet with rich dawn.
Let the darkness be warmed, warmed through to a ruddy violet, incipient purpling towards summer in the world of the heart of man.
Are the violets already here! Show me! I tremble so much to hear it, that even now on the threshold of spring, I fear I shall die.
Show me the violets that are out.
Oh, if it be true, and the living darkness of the blood of man is purpling with violets, if the violets are coming out from under the rack of men, winter-rotten and fallen, we shall have spring.
Pray not to die on this Pisgah blossoming with violets.
Pray to live through.
If you catch a whiff of violets from the darkness of the shadow of man it will be spring in the world, it will be spring in the world of the living; wonderment organising itself, heralding itself with the violets, stirring of new seasons.
Ah, do not let me die on the brink of such anticipation! Worse, let me not deceive myself.
Written by David Herbert Lawrence | Create an image from this poem

Lui Et Elle

 She is large and matronly
And rather dirty,
A little sardonic-looking, as if domesticity had driven her to it.
Though what she does, except lay four eggs at random in the garden once a year And put up with her husband, I don't know.
She likes to eat.
She hurries up, striding reared on long uncanny legs When food is going.
Oh yes, she can make haste when she likes.
She snaps the soft bread from my hand in great mouthfuls, Opening her rather pretty wedge of an iron, pristine face Into an enormously wide-beaked mouth Like sudden curved scissors, And gulping at more than she can swallow, and working her thick, soft tongue, And having the bread hanging over her chin.
O Mistress, Mistress, Reptile mistress, Your eye is very dark, very bright, And it never softens Although you watch.
She knows, She knows well enough to come for food, Yet she sees me not; Her bright eye sees, but not me, not anything, Sightful, sightless, seeing and visionless, Reptile mistress.
Taking bread in her curved, gaping, toothless mouth, She has no qualm when she catches my finger in her steel overlapping gums, But she hangs on, and my shout and my shrinking are nothing to her.
She does not even know she is nipping me with her curved beak.
Snake-like she draws at my finger, while I drag it in horror away.
Mistress, reptile mistress, You are almost too large, I am almost frightened.
He is much smaller, Dapper beside her, And ridiculously small.
Her laconic eye has an earthy, materialistic look, His, poor darling, is almost fiery.
His wimple, his blunt-prowed face, His low forehead, his skinny neck, his long, scaled, striving legs, So striving, striving, Are all more delicate than she, And he has a cruel scar on his shell.
Poor darling, biting at her feet, Running beside her like a dog, biting her earthy, splay feet, Nipping her ankles, Which she drags apathetic away, though without retreating into her shell.
Agelessly silent, And with a grim, reptile determination, Cold, voiceless age-after-age behind him, serpents' long obstinacy Of horizontal persistence.
Little old man Scuffling beside her, bending down, catching his opportunity, Parting his steel-trap face, so suddenly, and seizing her scaly ankle, And hanging grimly on, Letting go at last as she drags away, And closing his steel-trap face.
His steel-trap, stoic, ageless, handsome face.
Alas, what a fool he looks in this scuffle.
And how he feels it! The lonely rambler, the stoic, dignified stalker through chaos, The immune, the animate, Enveloped in isolation, Fore-runner.
Now look at him! Alas, the spear is through the side of his isolation.
His adolescence saw him crucified into sex, Doomed, in the long crucifixion of desire, to seek his consummation beyond himself.
Divided into passionate duality, He, so finished and immune, now broken into desirous fragmentariness, Doomed to make an intolerable fool of himself In his effort toward completion again.
Poor little earthy house-inhabiting Osiris, The mysterious bull tore him at adolescence into pieces, And he must struggle after reconstruction, ignominiously.
And so behold him following the tail Of that mud-hovel of his slowly rambling spouse, Like some unhappy bull at the tail of a cow, But with more than bovine, grim, earth-dank persistence.
Suddenly seizing the ugly ankle as she stretches out to walk, Roaming over the sods, Or, if it happen to show, at her pointed, heavy tail Beneath the low-dropping back-board of her shell.
Their two shells like domed boats bumping, Hers huge, his small; Their splay feet rambling and rowing like paddles, And stumbling mixed up in one another, In the race of love -- Two tortoises, She huge, he small.
She seems earthily apathetic, And he has a reptile's awful persistence.
I heard a woman pitying her, pitying the Mère Tortue.
While I, I pity Monsieur.
"He pesters her and torments her," said the woman.
How much more is he pestered and tormented, say I.
What can he do? He is dumb, he is visionless, Conceptionless.
His black, sad-lidded eye sees but beholds not As her earthen mound moves on, But he catches the folds of vulnerable, leathery skin, Nail-studded, that shake beneath her shell, And drags at these with his beak, Drags and drags and bites, While she pulls herself free, and rows her dull mound along.