The main theme of this poem is identified by its title: conceit. Lawrence states that it is human conceit that "makes us cowards instead of gods," and suggests that, indeed, we have been falsely encouraged to strive towards arrogance and self-absorption by the command "Know thy self, and that thou art mortal." This pursuit of self-knowledge, according to Lawrence, has become our hamartia, our fatal flaw, leaving us "entangled in the . . . coils of our conceit." The imagery suggests that conceit is literally, as well as figuratively, holding us back as a species.
As an alternative to this entanglement, Lawrence suggests, "I only entangle myself in the knowing." The right kind of self-knowledge, then—independent pursuit of "the knowing"—is introduced as a second theme. Lawrence uses repetition to underline the importance of this concept: "Now let me by myself" is repeated three times in an example of parallelism. In truly being himself, rather than struggling for self-knowledge which amounts to "conceit," the speaker believes he can "be one of the gods."