Monday, November 22, 2010

Aimless Reading: The L's, Part 7.2 (D.H. Lawrence)

Selected Poems
Originally uploaded by Michael_Kelleher
Lawrence, D.H.
Selected Poems

Purchased at the late, lamented Niagara Falls Outlet Mall Discount Book Store. I must have removed the price tag; I am sure it was cheap.

One of the most extraordinary seminars I ever attended in Charles Bernstein's office was when Adrienne Rich visited. We suddenly found ourselves sitting around a seminar table with Rich, Robert Creeley, Charles Bernstein, Susan Howe, Dennis Tedlock, I think maybe even Carl Dennis was there.

I don't remember much about the details of the conversation, only that at some point Creeley and Rich and Howe all started talking about D.H. Lawrence. And they weren't talking about his novels, they were talking about his poems, all with a certain amount of awe.

Lawrence had been a major poet for a lot of them, especially when they were younger, and despite the fact they may have become skeptical of him for various reasons as they got older, he nonetheless still occupied an important place in all of their imaginations, one they could never entirely be dislodged by whatever changes to their thought processes accompanied their passage through adulthood.

I remember feeling kind of astounded to hear that. I'd never really had much of a feeling for Lawrence the poet, had never studied him in school, had never been encouraged to read his poetry by anyone, for the matter. Well, I guess I remember one friend who had Lawrence's complete poems on his shelf--that huge volume put out by Penguin-- but I don't remember him ever talking about the book. I just remember looking at it on his shelf.

I've since bought this slim selected volume and have to admit I still don't have much of a feeling for his poems. Alas, it must be a generational thing.

from Selected Poems

A Baby Running Barefoot

When the bare feet of the baby beat across the grass
The little white feet nod like white flowers in the wind,
They poise and run like ripples lapping across the water;
And the sight of their white play among the grass
Is like a little robin's song, winsome,
Or as two white butterflies settle in the cup of one flower
For a moment, then away with a flutter of wings.

I long for the baby to wander hither to me
Like a wind-shadow wandering over the water,
So that she can stand on my knee
With her little bare feet in my hands,
Cool like syringa buds,
Firm and silken like pink young peony flowers.

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