In a note to his COLLECTED POEMS of 1928, D. H. Lawrence explains that he tried to arrange the poems in chronological order “because their personal nature made them, in effect, a biography of inner life and experience. Lawrence’s poetry, which is not widely read, succeeds for just this reason; reading through the volumes, one must agree with the poet, for the poems, rough as they often seem, sometimes even crude and apparently rapidly composed, are everywhere alive; they pulse with the currents and cross currents of their author’s tempestuous life and affairs. This effect is remarkable in any body of poems, and Lawrence’s are also remarkable for their haunting, incantatory cadences. In other words, the poems are seldom witty or intellectually complex; they do not sustain, nor often require, a great deal of explication or analysis. Perhaps better, they require, even demand, that the reader open himself to them, to the gusts of emotions—anger, bitterness, tenderness, outrage, nostalgia, regret, love—which make up their form and content, and which are artistically controlled and expressed chiefly in haunting though generally a-metrical rhythms.
The poems, up to 1923, revolve around Lawrence’s early loves, and his mother, especially. The background of these poems, which are all rhymed, may be supplied easily by anyone familiar with his autobiographical novel, SONS AND LOVERS. Then there is the death of his mother, which...
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