Friday, August 3, 2012

Kisses in the Train - D H Lawrence

I saw the midlands
revolve through her hair;
the fields of autumn
stretching bare,
and sheep on the pasture
tossed back in a scare.
And still as ever
the world went round,
my mouth on her pulsing
throat was found,
and my breast to her beating
breast was bound.
But my heart at the centre
of all, in a swound
was still as a pivot,
as all the ground
on its prowling orbit
shifted round.
And still in my nostrils
the scent of her flesh;
and still my blind face
sought her afresh;
and still one pulse
through the world did thresh.
And the world all whirling
round in joy
like the dance of a dervish
did destroy
my sense - and reason
spun like a toy.
But firm at the centre
my heart was found;
my own to her perfect
heartbeat bound,
like a magnet's keeper
closing the round.
D H Lawrence 1911
Pivot = a short shaft on which something turns, swound = swoon, Dervish = a member of a Muslin fraternity vowed to poverty and austerity, Magnet's keeper = a metal bar joining the two poles of a horseshoe magnet, preventing the loss of flux. One of the early love poems taken from the book - The Love Poems of D. H. Lawrence edited by Roy Booth.
The rhyme scheme involves the second, third and fifth line. Marvellous metre such that it mirrors that iambic clickity clack of the railway track giving a distinct feeling of train travel. Apparently the woman in question was D H Lawrence's fiancee Louie Burrows (not the woman he eloped with and married.) The text implies she may have been a blonde, white sheep are more common than black.
I was really taken in from the first stanza for train travel was a feature of my school days. There are two great pastimes on a short journey when paper and book do not feature as distraction. They are - looking out through the window - or studying ‘interesting people'. If you are a regular commuter you get to know the people and some of their habits.
Love throws life off the tracks! (if you forgive the pun) ... except for the heart of course which finds its true fuel. whether or not it misses a beat.
Footnote ...
Wikipedia reference on DHL ... ... source to the following text ...
In defence of critics, long term friend Catherine Carswell said this of Lawrence ... In the face of formidable initial disadvantages and life-long delicacy, poverty that lasted for three quarters of his life and hostility that survives his death, he did nothing that he did not really want to do, and all that he most wanted to do he did. He went all over the world, he owned a ranch, he lived in the most beautiful corners of Europe, and met whom he wanted to meet and told them that they were wrong and he was right. He painted and made things, and sang, and rode. He wrote something like three dozen books, of which even the worst page dances with life that could be mistaken for no other man's, while the best are admitted, even by those who hate him, to be unsurpassed. Without vices, with most human virtues, the husband of one wife, scrupulously honest, this estimable citizen yet managed to keep free from the shackles of civilization and the cant of literary cliques. He would have laughed lightly and cursed venomously in passing at the solemn owls-each one secretly chained by the leg-who now conduct his inquest. To do his work and lead his life in spite of them took some doing, but he did it, and long after they are forgotten, sensitive and innocent people-if any are left-will turn Lawrence's pages and will know from them what sort of a rare man Lawrence was.
He came to Australia and wrote a least one novel based on that experience - Kangaroo 1923.

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