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Troth with the Dead

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



The moon is broken in twain, and half a moon
Before me lies on the still, pale floor of the sky;
The other half of the broken coin of troth
Is buried away in the dark, where the still dead lie.
They buried her half in the grave when they laid her away;
I had pushed it gently in among the thick of her hair
Where it gathered towards the plait, on that very last day;
And like a moon in secret it is shining there.

My half shines in the sky, for a general sign
Of the troth with the dead I pledged myself to keep;
Turning its broken edge to the dark, it shines indeed
Like the sign of a lover who turns to the dark of sleep.
Against my heart the inviolate sleep breaks still
In darkened waves whose breaking echoes o’er
The wondering world of my wakeful day, till I’m lost
In the midst of the places I knew so well before.

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Submitted on May 13, 2011

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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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