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The Wild Common

David Herbert Lawrence 1885 (Eastwood, Nottinghamshire) – 1930 (Vence)

The quick sparks on the gorse bushes are leaping,
  Little jets of sunlight-texture imitating flame;
  Above them, exultant, the peewits are sweeping:
  They are lords of the desolate wastes of sadness their screamings proclaim.

  Rabbits, handfuls of brown earth, lie
  Low-rounded on the mournful grass they have bitten down to the quick.
  Are they asleep? -- Are they alive? -- Now see, when I
  Move my arms the hill bursts and heaves under their spurting kick.

  The common flaunts bravely; but below, from the rushes
  Crowds of glittering king-cups surge to challenge the blossoming bushes;
  There the lazy streamlet pushes
  Its curious course mildly; here it wakes again, leaps, laughs, and gushes.

  Into a deep pond, an old sheep-dip,
  Dark, overgrown with willows, cool, with the brook ebbing through so slow,
  Naked on the steep, soft lip
  Of the bank I stand watching my own white shadow quivering to and fro.

  What if the gorse flowers shrivelled and kissing were lost?
  Without the pulsing waters, where were the marigolds and the songs of the brook!
  If my veins and my breasts with love embossed
  Withered, my insolent soul would be gone like flowers that the hot wind took.

  So my soul like a passionate woman turns,
  Filled with remorseful terror to the man she scorned, and her love
  For myself in my own eyes' laughter burns,
  Runs ecstatic over the pliant folds rippling down to my belly from the breast-lights above.

  Over my sunlit skin the warm, clinging air,
  Rich with the songs of seven larks singing at once, goes kissing me glad.
  And the soul of the wind and my blood compare
  Their wandering happiness, and the wind, wasted in liberty, drifts on and is sad.

  Oh but the water loves me and folds me,
  Plays with me, sways me, lifts me and sinks me as though it were living blood,
  Blood of a heaving woman who holds me,
  Owning my supple body a rare glad thing, supremely good.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

1:39 min read

David Herbert Lawrence

David Herbert Lawrence was an English writer and poet. His collected works represent, among other things, an extended reflection upon the dehumanising effects of modernity and industrialisation. Lawrence's writing explores issues such as sexuality, emotional health, vitality, spontaneity, and instinct. Lawrence's opinions earned him many enemies and he endured official persecution, censorship, and misrepresentation of his creative work throughout the second half of his life, much of which he spent in a voluntary exile he called his "savage pilgrimage". At the time of his death, his public reputation was that of a pornographer who had wasted his considerable talents. E. M. Forster, in an obituary notice, challenged this widely held view, describing him as "the greatest imaginative novelist of our generation." Later, the literary critic F. R. Leavis championed both his artistic integrity and his moral seriousness. more…

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