Almond Blossom

Original Text: 
D. H. Lawrence, Birds, Beasts and Flowers: Poems (London: Martin Secker, 1923): 51-55. PR 6023 A93B5 1923 Robarts Library
1Even iron can put forth,
2Even iron.
3This is the iron age,
4But let us take heart
5Seeing iron break and bud,
6Seeing rusty iron puff with clouds of blossom.
7The almond-tree,
8December's bare iron hooks sticking out of earth.
9The almond-tree,
10That knows the deadliest poison, like a snake
11In supreme bitterness.
12Upon the iron, and upon the steel,
13Odd flakes as if of snow, odd bits of snow,
14Odd crumbs of melting snow.
15But you mistake, it is not from the sky;
16From out the iron, and from out the steel,
17Flying not down from heaven, but storming up,
18Strange storming up from the dense under-earth
19Along the iron, to the living steel
20In rose-hot tips, and flakes of rose-pale snow
21Setting supreme annunciation to the world.
22Nay, what a heart of delicate super-faith,
23Iron-breaking,
24The rusty swords of almond-trees.
25Trees suffer, like races, clown the long ages.
26They wander and are exiled, they live in exile through long ages
27Like drawn blades never sheathed, hacked and gone black,
28The alien trees in alien lands: and yet
29The heart of blossom,
30The unquenchable heart of blossom!
32Yet see him fling himself abroad in fresh abandon
33From the small wound-stump.
34Even the wilful, obstinate, gummy fig-tree
35Can be kept down, but he'll burst like a polyp into prolixity.
36And the almond-tree, in exile, in the iron age!
38Bristling now with the iron of almond-trees
39Iron, but unforgotten,
40Iron, dawn-hearted,
41Ever-beating dawn-heart, enveloped in iron against the exile, against the ages.
42See it come forth in blossom
43From the snow-remembering heart
44In long-nighted January,
47Into blossom, into pride, into honey-triumph, into most exquisite splendour.
48Oh, give me the tree of life in blossom
49And the Cross sprouting its superb and fearless flowers!
50Something must be reassuring to the almond, in the evening star, and the snow-wind, and the long, long, nights,
51Some memory of far, sun-gentler lands,
52So that the faith in his heart smiles again
53And his blood ripples with that untenable delight of once-more-vindicated faith,
54And the Gethsemane blood at the iron pores unfolds, unfolds,
55Pearls itself into tenderness of bud
56And in a great and sacred forthcoming steps forth, steps out in one stride
57A naked tree of blossom, like a bridegroom bathing in dew, divested of cover,
58Frail-naked, utterly uncovered
59To the green night-baying of the dog-star, Etna's snow-edged wind
60And January's loud-seeming sun.
61Think of it, from the iron fastness
62Suddenly to dare to come out naked, in perfection of blossom, beyond the sword-rust.
63Think, to stand there in full-unfolded nudity, smiling,
65Oh, honey-bodied beautiful one,
66Come forth from iron,
67Red your heart is.
68Fragile-tender, fragile-tender life-body,
69More fearless than iron all the time,
70And so much prouder, so disdainful of reluctances.
71In the distance like hoar-frost, like silvery ghosts communing on a green hill,
72Hoar-frost-like and mysterious.
73In the garden raying out
74With a body like spray, dawn-tender, and looking about
75With such insuperable, subtly-smiling assurance,
76Sword-blade-born.
77Unpromised,
78No bounds being set.
79Flaked out and come unpromised,
80The tree being life-divine,
81Fearing nothing, life-blissful at the core
82Within iron and earth.
83Knots of pink, fish-silvery
84In heaven, in blue, blue heaven,
85Soundless, bliss-full, wide-rayed, honey-bodied,
86Red at the core,
87Red at the core,
88Knotted in heaven upon the fine light.
89Open,
90Open,
91Five times wide open,
92Six times wide open,
93And given, and perfect;
94And red at the core with the last sore-heartedness,
95Sore-hearted-looking.
Fontana Vecchia.

Notes

31] many-cicatrised: scarred through the dropping of leaves from the stem. Back to Line
37] amphoras: two-handled storage jars.
craters: large bowls for mixing wine with water.
cantharus: large two-handled drinking cup.
œnochœ: dipper to fill drinking cup from a wine bowl.
cylix: shallow tall-stemmed cup. Back to Line
45] Sirius: the dog star, the brightest star in Canis Major.
Etna: Sicilian volcano. Back to Line
46] Gethsemane: the garden where Jesus was arrested by Roman soldiers to be tried, convicted, and crucified. Back to Line
64] epithalamion: wedding poem. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1922
Publication Notes: 
The English Review (Feb. 1922)
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.
Form: