It seems when we hear a skylark singing as if sound were running forward into the future, running so fast and utterly without consideration, straight on into futurity. And when we hear a nightingale, we hear the pause and the rich, piercing rhythm of recollection, the perfected past. The lark may sound sad, but with the lovely lapsing sadness that is almost a swoon of hope. The nightingale’s triumph is a pæan, but a death-pæan.D.H. Lawrence, New Poems, 1919
So it is with poetry.
In the preface of this book, D.H. Lawrence wrote about poetry being a voice of the infinite future, exquisite and ethereal, a voice of the infinite past, rich and magnificent, and a voice of the immediate present, where there is no perfection, no consummation and nothing finished. He said it was where “the strands are all flying, quivering, intermingling into the web, the waters are shaking the moon”…. and, where life, the ever-present, knows no finality.
This passage made me think about poetry differently, more spherically and iridescently in some ways and with infinitely more depth in others. So as we face 2022 and the excitement of another journey this year, I wanted to share a love poem from his book that inspires me.
Since this is the last night I keep you home,
Come, I will consecrate you for the journey.
Rather I had you would not go. Nay come
I will not again reproach you. Lie back
And let me love you a long time ere you go.
For you are sullen-hearted still, and lack
The will to love me. But even so
I will set a seal upon you from my lip,
Will set a guard of honour at each door,
Seal up each channel out of which might slip
Your love for me.
I kiss your mouth. Ah, love,
Could I but seal its ruddy, shining spring
Of passion, parch it up, destroy, remove
Its softly-stirring, crimson welling-up
Of kisses! Oh, help me, God! Here at the source
I’d lie for ever drinking and drawing in
Your fountains, as heaven drinks from out their course
I close your ears with kisses
And seal your nostrils; and round your neck you’ll wear –
Nay, let me work – a delicate chain of kisses.
Like beads they go around, and not one misses
To touch its fellow on either side.
Full mid-between the champaign of your breast
I place a great and burning seal of love
Like a dark rose, a mystery of rest
On the slow bubbling of your rhythmic heart.
Nay, I persist, and very faith shall keep
You integral to me. Each door, each mystic port
Of egress from you I will seal and steep
In perfect chrism.
Now it is done. The mort
Will wound in heaven before it is undone.
But let me finish what I have begun
And shirt you now invulnerable in the mail
Of iron kisses, kisses linked like steel.
Put greaves upon your thighs and knees, and frail
Webbing of steel on your feet. So you shall feel
Ensheathed invulnerable with me, with seven
Great seals upon your outgoings, and woven
Chain of my mystic will wrapped perfectly
Upon you, wrapped in indomitable me.
~ Seven Seals, D.H. Lawrence