Sunday, November 04, 2007

Poem Sunday #1

Everybody's got a gimmick for NaBloPoMo, right?

Right?

Well, mine is going to be poem Sundays. Some of my happiest blog memories come from sharing my favorite poems, so this month you get four more.

Lawrence

by Tony Hoagland


On two occasions in the past twelve months
I have failed, when someone at a party
spoke of him with a dismissive scorn,
to stand up for D. H. Lawrence,


a man who burned like an acetylene torch
from one end to the other of his life.
These individuals, whose relationship to literature
is approximately that of a tree shredder


to stands of old-growth forest,
these people leaned back in their chairs,
bellies full of dry white wine and the ovum of some foreign fish,
and casually dropped his name


the way pygmies with their little poison spears
strut around the carcass of a fallen elephant.
“O Elephant,” they say,
“you are not so big and brave today!”


It’s a bad day when people speak of their superiors
with a contempt they haven’t earned,
and it’s a sorry thing when certain other people


don’t defend the great dead ones
who have opened up the world before them.
And though, in the catalogue of my betrayals,
this is a fairly minor entry,


I resolve, if the occasion should recur,
to uncheck my tongue and say, “I love the spectacle
of maggots condescending to a corpse,”
or, “You should be so lucky in your brainy, bloodless life


as to deserve to lift
just one of D. H. Lawrence’s urine samples
to your arid psychobiographic
theory-tainted lips.”


Or maybe I’ll just take the shortcut
between the spirit and the flesh,
and punch someone in the face,
because human beings haven’t come that far


in their effort to subdue the body,
and we still walk around like zombies
in our dying, burning world,
able to do little more


than fight, and fuck, and crow,
something Lawrence wrote about
in such a manner
as to make us seem magnificent.

3 comments:

Jonathan said...

I will admit to having heard enough about the life of D H Lawrence for the last paragraph to cause an especially wide smile to escape me :)

Gina said...

Oh, I am one of the people the poet is talking about. I don't deny he is talented, but is it wrong that his poems do not speak to me?

Megs said...

I don't think about this poem really being about DH Lawrence in particular.

More, I just like the idea that all literature is simply a glorification of the basest parts of being human.