Last Words to Miriam

Original Text: 
(1) D. H. Lawrence, Amores: Poems (London: Duckworth, [1921]): 42-45. PR 6023 A93A7 Robarts Library. Roberts A9. (2) D. H. Lawrence, Collected Poems (New York: Jonathan Cape, 1929): I, 133-34. PR 6023 A93A17.
2     But the disgrace is mine;
3Your love was dark and thorough,
4Mine was the love of the sun for a flower
5     He creates with his shine.
6I was diligent to explore you,
7     Blossom you stalk by stalk,
8Till my fire of creation bore you
9Shrivelling down in the final dour
11I knew your pain, and it broke
12     My fine, craftsman's nerve;
13Your body quailed at my stroke,
14And my courage failed to give you the last
15     Fine torture you did deserve.
16You are shapely, you are adorned,
17     But opaque and dull in the flesh,
18Who, had I but pierced with the thorned
19Fire-threshing anguish, were fused and cast
20     In a lovely illumined mesh.
21Like a painted window: the best
22     Suffering burnt through your flesh,
23Undrossed it and left it blest
24With a quivering sweet wisdom of grace: but now
25     Who shall take you afresh?
26Now who will burn you free
27     From your body's terrors and dross,
28Since the fire has failed in me?
29What man will stoop in your flesh to plough
30     The shrieking cross?
31A mute, nearly beautiful thing
32     Is your face, that fills me with shame
33As I see it hardening,
34Warping the perfect image of God,
35     And darkening my eternal fame.
Version ## (1928)
1Yours is the sullen sorrow,
2     The disgrace is also mine;
3Your love was intense and thorough,
4Mine was the love of a growing flower
5     For the sunshine.
6You had the power to explore me,
7Blossom me stalk by stalk;
8You woke my spirit, you bore me
9To consciousness, you gave me the dour
10     Awareness -- then I suffered a balk.
11Body to body I could not
12     Love you, although I would.
13We kissed, we kissed though we should not.
14You yielded, we threw the last cast,
15     And it was no good.
16You only endured, and it broke
17     My craftsman's nerve.
18No flesh responded to my stroke;
19So I failed to give you the last
20     Fine torture you did deserve.
21You are shapely, you are adorned
22     But opaque and null in the flesh;
23Who, had I but pierced with the thorned
24Full anguish, perhaps had been cast
25     In a lovely illuinined mesh
26Like a painted window; the best
27     Fire passed through your flesh,
28Undrossed it, and left it blest
29In clean new awareness. But now
30     Who shall take you afresh?
31Now who will burn you free
32     From your body's deadness and dross?
33Since the fire has failed in me,
34What man will stoop in your flesh to plough
35     The shrieking cross?
36A mute, nearly beautiful thing
37     Is your face, that fills me with shame
38As I see it hardening;
39I should have been cruel enough to bring
40     You through the flame.


1] See Vivian de Sola Pinto, "D. H. Lawrence, Letter-writer and Craftsman in Verse," Renaissance and Modern Studies 1 (1957): 1-34 for an account of the making of this poem. Back to Line
10] balk: check, setback. Back to Line
Publication Start Year: 
RPO poem Editors: 
Ian Lancashire
RPO Edition: 
RPO 2000.