D. H. Lawrence packs his poem “Bat” with all kinds of imagery, especially visual imagery, using personification, metaphors, and similes. Let's work our way through the poem and look at some of the excellent imagery we can discover therein.
In the first stanza, we read that the sun is departing, “and the world is taken by surprise.” Notice the personification here. The world being taken by surprise by the sunset is appealing imagery that makes us think about common occurrences in fresh, new ways.
In the next stanza, Florence is a “tired flower” (a metaphor), but the brown hills around the city are glowing in the gloom. The sensory details are vivid here, and the contrast of gloom and glowing brings them out in an interesting way.
Then the speaker sees something flying. At first he thinks that they are “swallows with spools of dark thread sewing the shadows together.” This is a delightful metaphor that presents a vivid mental picture. These flying creatures swoop and make “a quick parabola” (another metaphor) under a bridge, turning and dipping.
As the speaker watches, he wonders if these are actually swallows. They perform “dark air-life looping” (a vivid but subtle image that suggests that these creatures are bringing life to the air and taking life from the air). They twitter and twitch with “an elastic shudder in flight.” Notice the metaphor here, the comparison of flight to elastic that snaps and shudders. As the speaker looks more closely, he notices in a marvelous simile that these creatures are “like a glove, a black glove thrown up at the light.” They are not swallows; they are bats!
These bats, the speaker continues, are swooping and “flying madly,” and they make his scalp creep. They look like “little lumps,” and they have “wildly vindictive” voices. The poet compares them to “disgusting old rags” as they hang upside down in sleep, and he says that they have “wings like bits of umbrella.” Bats may be symbols “for happiness” in China, but they certainly are not for him!