Monday, October 31, 2005


I discovered the poem Shadows, by D H Lawrence, with its autumnal resonances and its meditation on the process of death and renewal, during one of the worst times of my life. It helped then, and I often re-read it. A dark, lush, deeply mystical and ultimately hopeful poem, redolent of the period from Halloween leading up to the winter solstice.

D H Lawrence

And if tonight my soul may find her peace
in sleep, and sink in good oblivion,
and in the morning wake like a new-opened flower
then I have been dipped again in God, and new-created.

And if, as weeks go round, in the dark of the moon
my spirit darkens and goes out, and soft strange gloom
pervades my movements and my thoughts and words
then I shall know that I am walking still
with God, we are close together now the moon's in shadow.

And if, as autumn deepens and darkens
I feel the pain of falling leaves, and stems that break in storms
and trouble and dissolution and distress
and then the softness of deep shadows folding,
folding around my soul and spirit, around my lips
so sweet, like a swoon, or more like the drowse of a low, sad song
singing darker than the nightingale, on, on to the solstice
and the silence of short days, the silence of the year, the shadow,
then I shall know that my life is moving still
with the dark earth, and drenched
with the deep oblivion of earth's lapse and renewal.

And if, in the changing phases of man's life
I fall in sickness and in misery
my wrists seem broken and my heart seems dead
and strength is gone, and my life
is only the leavings of a life:

and still, among it all, snatches of lovely oblivion, and snatches
of renewal
odd, wintry flowers upon the withered stem, yet new, strange flowers
such as my life has not brought forth before, new blossoms of me

then I must know that still
I am in the hands of the unknown God,
he is breaking me down to his own oblivion
to send me forth on a new morning, a new man.


Blogger MB said...

I haven't met this poem before, and am glad to know of it. This business of finding hope in the darkness of winter is one I take rather seriously, so thank you!

4:31 am  
Blogger Gemma Grace said...

I haven't met this poem before either (I like that Moose.) Beautiful! I'm going to share it with my Dad. Thanks Mary.

6:18 am  
Blogger Sonia said...

Beautiful poem! I haven't read this poem before. Thank you!
Just now I see you link to my "Leaves of Grass". Mary, I appreciate it. Thank you so much!

12:18 pm  
Blogger Jean said...

That's wonderful. I didn't know it either. THANK YOU! Definitely one to keep.

2:00 pm  
Blogger leslee said...

Love this. I had a whole semester in college on Lawrence and I loved the way he embraced the richness of the dark places. I don't recall we read much of his poetry, though, just novels and short stories. Anyway, a perfect poem for this period of time.

10:04 pm  
Blogger Mary said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:15 am  
Blogger Mary said...

Thank you all. I'm glad others were happy to meet this poem too!

Gemma Grace: I hope your Dad enjoys it as well.

Leslee: Thank you. That's a good way to describe Lawrence - embracing the richness of dark places. I am fonder of his poetry than I am of his novels. The verses really seem to come from the depths, and demonstrate an appreciation of and respect for the power of the natural world.

9:21 am  
Anonymous K. said...

As with your other commenters, thank you for introducing me to this poem. It's one to hang on to.

7:47 pm  
Anonymous Mark R. said...

Harold Bloom's "How To Read and Why" alerted me to this poem (which I did not know though I used by be quite crazy about Lawrence's work.) Thanks for sharing it in your blog. I suppose you know the more well known "Bavarian Gentians," which shares this poem's lovely sound.

12:52 am  
Blogger le chat said...

Yes, I also have The Best Poems of the English Language by Harold Bloom with me.
"the pain of the falling leaves" just give me a chill in my bones.
The poem inspired me to do a painting.

7:40 pm  

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