Monday, August 22, 2011

Off the Shelf Archive ~August

Time to shove in a new selection for the Off the Shelf Page before the month is completely gone. I recently ordered several poetry collections on sale, to replace lost originals or read a few new authors. Among them was a slim and cheap volume of T.S. Eliot, one of the most influential and widely read poets of the 20th Century. I'm not going to bother giving his bio as I imagine anyone who writes or reads poetry knows his name and has been exposed to his work, which is not very voluminous. Nonetheless, sometimes a rereading of words absorbed years ago reveals something new and valuable, and so it was for me thumbing through this new book of old poems of Eliot's. I've selected a portion of the first of his lengthy Four Quartets (Burnt Norton) the work Eliot considered his best, and responsible for his 1948 Nobel Prize for Literature. 

You'll find it here, in the  Off The Shelf Archive for September 

And to make room for Eliot, below is the previous selection, two shorter poems by D.H. Lawrence. As always feel free to make comments on either selection here, as comments are disabled off the main page, and suggestions for next time are always welcome.

Two Short Poems by D.H. Lawrence

Won’t It Be Strange—?

Won’t it be strange, when the nurse brings the newborn
to the proud father, and shows its little, webbed greenish
made to smite the waters behind it?
or the round wild vivid eye of a wild goose staring
out of fathomless skies and seas?
or when it utters that undaunted little bird-cry
of one who will settle on ice-bergs, and honk across the

And when the father says: This is none of mine!
Woman, where got you this little beast?—
will there be a whistle of wings in the air; and an icy
will the singing of swans, high up, high up, invisible
break the drums of his ears
and leave him forever listening for the answer?

The Gods! The Gods!

People were bathing and posturing themselves on the
and all was dreary, great robot limbs, robot breasts
robot voices, robot even the gay umbrellas.

But a woman, shy and alone, was washing herself under
     a tap
and the glimmer of the presence of the gods was like
and like water-lilies.

by D.H. Lawrence

Image: Mother, by Joaquin Sorolla y Bastida
1895, Oil on canvas


  1. Nice pair. Lawrence had to code his paganish sensibilities more for his age, forcing a much more deft, light, subtle tough. The wild, the divine is so just up and just beyond the edges of where we'd think (or care) to look. 'Course, the boy the get right down to it and blast away. ("Whales Weep Not!") Thanks for airing these ones out.

  2. Glad you liked, and very true about the coding; though I don't see Lawrence as ever editing himself for the sensibilities of his time much, he was a product of it. AFA Whales Weep Not! (always with the exclamation points) that's been a favorite for years. I can truly say not much makes me want to be a whale, normally, but that poem makes me feel it would be a pleasure to join a cetaceous harem and roam ocean ever guarded by a humongously potent and steadfast male symbol of super-virility and abundance.

  3. I like these! I'm not that familiar with Lawrence's poetry.

  4. mmm...both are intriguing..the second is very least i imagine her to be...smiles.

  5. I enjoyed reading them thanks.

    The second one is very subtle, yet full of depth. She must be some woman ~

  6. *shrug* Neither Lawrence or Eliot are regular reading for me. I find them in my own mind to be both be comparable to a garage band opening for Stephen Crane, Emily Dickinson or Ezra Pound. Matter of taste I guess. To my ear I can never quite pick out their rhythm.

  7. You've got the most amazing shelves, hedgewitch :)

  8. I like this combination! Specially with the image you've included. That darn bed looks as comfy as heck and the little one and it's mother...beautiful. Gotta love that image!

    Nice touch with the 2 written works the innovative energy it brings!

    Thanks for sharing,
    Roger ☺


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats