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D.H. Lawrence (1885–1930). New Poems. 1916.

32. Bitterness of Death


AH, stern, cold man,

How can you lie so relentless hard

While I wash you with weeping water!

Do you set your face against the daughter

Of life? Can you never discard

Your curt pride’s ban?

You masquerader!

How can you shame to act this part

Of unswerving indifference to me?

You want at last, ah me!

To break my heart


You know your mouth

Was always sooner to soften

Even than your eyes.

Now shut it lies

Relentless, however often

I kiss it in drouth.

It has no breath

Nor any relaxing. Where,

Where are you, what have you done?

What is this mouth of stone?

How did you dare

Take cover in death!


Once you could see,

The white moon show like a breast revealed

By the slipping shawl of stars.

Could see the small stars tremble

As the heart beneath did wield

Systole, diastole.

All the lovely macrocosm

Was woman once to you,

Bride to your groom.

No tree in bloom

But it leaned you a new

White bosom.

And always and ever

Soft as a summering tree

Unfolds from the sky, for your good,

Unfolded womanhood;

Shedding you down as a tree

Sheds its flowers on a river.

I saw your brows

Set like rocks beside a sea of gloom,

And I shed my very soul down into your thought;

Like flowers I fell, to be caught

On the comforted pool, like bloom

That leaves the boughs.


Oh, masquerader,

With a hard face white-enamelled,

What are you now?

Do you care no longer how

My heart is trammelled,


Is this you, after all,

Metallic, obdurate

With bowels of steel?

Did you never feel?—

Cold, insensate,


Ah, no!—you multiform,

You that I loved, you wonderful,

You who darkened and shone,

You were many men in one;

But never this null

This never-warm!

Is this the sum of you?

Is it all nought?

Cold, metal-cold?

Are you all told

Here, iron-wrought?

Is this what’s become of you?