The Wild Common

Original Text: 
(1) D. H. Lawrence, Amores: Poems (London: Duckworth, [1921]): 4-6. PR 6023 A93A7 Robarts Library. Roberts A9. (2) D. L. Lawrence, Collected Poems, 2 vols. (New York: Jonathan Cape, 1929), I: 9-10.
2Little jets of sunlight-texture imitating flame;
4They are lords of the desolate wastes of sadness their screamings proclaim.
5Rabbits, handfuls of brown earth, lie
6Low-rounded on the mournful grass they have bitten down to the quick.
7Are they asleep? -- Are they alive? -- Now see, when I
8Move my arms the hill bursts and heaves under their spurting kick.
9The common flaunts bravely; but below, from the rushes
11There the lazy streamlet pushes
12Its curious course mildly; here it wakes again, leaps, laughs, and gushes.
14Dark, overgrown with willows, cool, with the brook ebbing through so slow,
15Naked on the steep, soft lip
16Of the bank I stand watching my own white shadow quivering to and fro.
17What if the gorse flowers shrivelled and kissing were lost?
19If my veins and my breasts with love embossed
20Withered, my insolent soul would be gone like flowers that the hot wind took.
21So my soul like a passionate woman turns,
22Filled with remorseful terror to the man she scorned, and her love
23For myself in my own eyes' laughter burns,
24Runs ecstatic over the pliant folds rippling down to my belly from the breast-lights above.
25Over my sunlit skin the warm, clinging air,
26Rich with the songs of seven larks singing at once, goes kissing me glad.
27And the soul of the wind and my blood compare
28Their wandering happiness, and the wind, wasted in liberty, drifts on and is sad.
29Oh but the water loves me and folds me,
30Plays with me, sways me, lifts me and sinks me as though it were living blood,
31Blood of a heaving woman who holds me,
32Owning my supple body a rare glad thing, supremely good.
[Version ##: 1928]
1The quick sparks on the gorse-bushes are leaping
2Little jets of sunlight texture imitating flame;
3Above them, exultant, the peewits are sweeping:
4They have triumphed again o'er the ages, their screamings proclaim.
5Rabbits, handfuls of brown earth, lie
6Low-rounded on the mournful turf they have bitten down to the quick.
7Are they asleep? -- are they living? -- Now see, when I
8Lift my arms, the hill bursts and heaves under their spurting kick!
9The common flaunts bravely; but below, from the rushes
10Crowds of glittering king-cups surge to challenge the blossoming bushes;
11There the lazy streamlet pushes
12His bent course mildly; here wakes again, leaps, laughs, and gushes
13Into a deep pond, an old sheep-dip,
14Dark, overgrown with willows, cool, with the brook ebbing through so slow;
15Naked on the steep, soft lip
16Of the turf I stand watching my own white shadow quivering to and fro.
17What if the gorse-flowers shrivelled, and I were gone?
19What is this thing that I look down upon?
21How it looks back, like a white dog to its master!
22I on the bank all substance, my shadow all shadow looking up to me, looking back!
23And the water runs, and runs faster, runs faster,
24And the white dog dances and quivers, I am holding his cord quite slack.
25But how splendid it is to be substance, here!
26My shadow is neither here nor there; but I, I am royally here!
28Here! flick the rabbits. Here! pants the gorse. Here! say the insects far and near.
29Over my skin in the sunshine, the warm, clinging air
30Flushed with the songs of seven larks singing at once, goes kissing me glad.
31You are here! You are here! We have found you! Everywhere
32We sought you substantial, you touchstone of caresses, you naked lad!
33Oh but the water loves me and folds me,
34Plays with me, sways me, lifts me and sinks me, murmurs: Oh marvellous stuff!
35No longer shadow! -- and it holds me
36Close, and it rolls me, enfolds me, touches me, as if never it could touch me enough.
37Sun, but in substance, yellow water-blobs!
38Wings and feathers on the crying, mysterious ages, peewits wheeling!
40In confirmation, I hear sevenfold lark-songs pealing.

Notes

1] Common: a public ground or land.
Lawrence regularly placed this poem first in his volumes of poetry.
gorse: dense spiny evergreen shrub like the yellow-flowered furze. Back to Line
3] peewits: small birds. Back to Line
10] king-cups: buttercups. Back to Line
13] sheep-dip: water for cleaning sheep. Back to Line
18] marigolds: showy coloured flowers. Back to Line
18] gugdeon: carp-like freshwater fish. Back to Line
20] wimples: covers. Back to Line
27] may-blobs: marigolds. Back to Line
39] lobs: jumps in an arc. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
1921
Publication Notes: 
Revision: 1928
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.
Rhyme: