DH Lawrence

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DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:09 pm



DH Lawrence

Biography

guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 22 July 2008 15.41 BST

1885-1930

"Be still when you have nothing to say; when genuine passion moves you, say what you've got to say, and say it hot."

Birthplace

Son of a coal miner and an upwardly mobile haberdasher's saleswoman, David Herbert Lawrence was born in Eastwood, Nottinghamshire.

Education

Greasley Beauvale Board School near Eastwood. Lawrence won a scholarship to Nottingham High School and, after leaving at 15 and working to save up the 20 pound fee, took up a teacher training scholarship at Nottingham University.

Other jobs

Clerk at Haywood's Surgical Garments factory in Nottingham; assistant master at Davidson Road Elementary School in Croydon.

Did you know?

His wife Frieda's cousin was the German pilot and air ace Baron Manfred von Richthofen, also known as the Red Baron.

Critical verdict

DH Lawrence has always provoked strong reactions in his readers: shock from his censors during his lifetime; engrossment from adolescents who encounter his work at school; ridicule from critics who parody his overblown prose and fondness for lubricious episodes. A writer who is curiously prone to the vagaries of literary fashion, he is currently out of vogue; his work seen as period pieces rendered obsolete by changing views on sexuality since the 60s, his attitudes regarded as posturing at best and misogynistic at worst. Cultural mores aside, however, DH Lawrence at his best is spellbinding. Boldly experimental and deeply sensual, he is a working class hero who heralded the modern age through both his radical style and his unabashed celebration of sexual relationships. His depiction of social change from pastoral to urban and agricultural to industrial remains historically accurate even as he moves seamlessly from vivid realism to the mystical and transcendental.

Recommended works

While Lawrence is best-known for Lady Chatterley's Lover, Women in Love is generally regarded as his finest novel. It takes up the story of the Brangwen sisters where The Rainbow leaves off, and follows their quest to forge new types of liberated personal relationships. But Lawrence was also a successful poet, playwright and short story writer ¿ try his Complete Short Stories and his Complete Poems.

Influences

Lawrence's early years in Nottinghamshire infuse all his work, but especially the quasi-autobiographical Sons and Lovers. The sentiments expressed on relationships in his books also mirror his changing and developing views on love and marriage within his own life.

Now read on

Try Nabokov, Anais Nin (who wrote an appreciation of Lawrence) and Walt Whitman; his exuberantly sensual poetry, particularly in Leaves of Grass, his most famous work, is an early precursor to Lawrence's transcendentalism.

Adaptations

Ken Russell's Women in Love (1969) with Oliver Reed as Gerald Crich and Glenda Jackson as Gudrun Brangwen is a classic. 20 years later, Jackson reappeared as Anna Brangwen in Russell's less well-received 1989 adaptation of The Rainbow. There has also been a film of Lady Chatterley and numerous television adaptations; the 1992 series with Sean Bean and Joely Richardson, again by Ken Russell, is the most memorable.

Recommended biography

John Worthen's DH Lawrence: The Life of an Outsider (Allen Lane, 2005) is an excellent single-volume work. The three-volume Cambridge Biography (Vol. I by J Worthen, 1991; Vol. II by M Kinkead-Weekes, 1996; Vol. III by D Ellis, 1998) is a massive and comprehensive undertaking.

Criticism

The Complete Critical Guide to DH Lawrence provides an overview of the main critical writings, from Lawrence's contemporaries to the present day, while the Cambridge Companion to DH Lawrence offers a series of perspectives.



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Re: DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:14 pm

Rereading: The Rainbow by DH Lawrence

As The Rainbow and Women in Love are adapted for TV, Rachel Cusk reflects on how these daring novels subverted Victorian gender stereotypes and how Lawrence has been badly served by his libidinous image

Rachel Cusk The Guardian, Saturday 19 March 2011


Rachael Stirling and Rosamund Pike as the Brangwen sisters in BBC4’s adaptation of Lawrence’s novel. Photograph: BBC/Company Pictures/Kelly Walsh/Company Pictures

The Rainbow came into the world more or less without literary antecedents. Nothing like it had been written before: Lawrence's novel defined new territories that enabled the representation of human experience to move forward into the modern age. The same, of course, can be said of James Joyce's Ulysses, with which The Rainbow was contemporaneous and with which it shared the fate of being disowned and vilified by the literary establishment and the general public alike. Both were banned immediately on publication; in both cases the charge was obscenity, though Joyce's erudition and Lawrence's passion could hardly be more distinct from one another. Though both are books of truth, what yokes them together is in fact mere frankness: frankness about the life of the body in its most pedestrian, its most recognisable, its most universal form.


The Rainbow (Vintage Classics) by D H Lawrence

Lawrence is still seen by many as controversial – and controversial he was, but the highly sexed pornographer of public imagination bears no relation at all to the man whose modes of thought and self-expression still retain the power to provoke violent disagreement. The damage done to his reputation almost a century ago has proved curiously permanent; justice has an uncanny way of eluding him – the famous overturning of the ban on Lady Chatterley's Lover at the Old Bailey in 1960 fixed his libidinous image still more firmly by associating it with the mores of that decade. Thus each successive generation of readers comes to Lawrence with preconceptions about his life and character that are the opposite of true. His was a cold, harsh, short life filled with rejection, poverty and sickness, in which every comfort of social, family and intellectual life was denied. That these conditions could produce such a work of generosity and empathy as The Rainbow is mysterious and miraculous; and indeed the mystery and the miracle of creation is what this novel sets out both to evoke and to immortalise at the core of ordinary life.

"One is not only a little individual, living a little individual life," Lawrence wrote in a letter at the time of the novel's composition. "One is in oneself the whole of mankind, and one's fate is the fate of the whole of mankind." The brevity and the vastness of this statement may be taken as an articulation of Lawrence's ambitions for his tale of a Nottinghamshire family's generational movement out of a timeless agrarian communality towards the individualism and alienation of life in an industrialised society. This was the movement of history itself; the journey of man out of the fields and into the cities, his emancipation from physical labour by machines, the new forms of mental life this emancipation made possible and the new – often problematic – possibilities for relating that it offered. The Rainbow is an account of how the Victorian era gave way to the modern age.

But Lawrence's statement implies far more than this, both morally and artistically. The Victorian novel routinely used individual characters as emblems of wider social and geographical realities, to the extent that its concept of character often strikes the modern reader as stylised and lacking in reality. Dickens, Eliot, Gaskell: despite their interest in social change, regionalism, community, the position of women, these great English novelists have nothing in common with Lawrence at all. In The Rainbow Lawrence does more than part company with Victorian modes of narration – he destroys them by completely inverting the literary and actual function of "man" as a representative of "mankind". "One is in oneself the whole of mankind": in this assertion of the total significance of the self, Lawrence is seeing the future not just of the novel but of modern Freudian consciousness, and in the story of the Brangwen family he begins to imagine what the texture of this consciousness might be.

The Rainbow was originally conceived as a much longer novel, to be called "The Sisters", and ultimately became two, the second of which is Women in Love. It is important to note that Lawrence's definitions of "man" and "mankind" at the outset of this project not only incorporated woman but were chiefly preoccupied by her. He regarded his novel as "do[ing] my work for women, better than the suffrage". In a letter written in 1913, he remarked: "It seems to me that the chief thing about a woman – who is much of a woman – is that in the long run she is not to be had. She is not to be caught by any of the catch-words, love, beauty, honour, duty, worth, work, salvation – none of them – not in the long run."

What she wanted was, he said, satisfaction: "physical at least as much as psychic, sex as much as soul." In planning "The Sisters" he set out to unravel "the woman question" – "it is the problem of the day," he wrote, "the establishment of a new relation, or the readjustment of the old one, between men and women" – by interrogating the deepest sources of this satisfaction and its denial through the destinies of two sisters, Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen. It was an unravelling so lengthy, requiring such a profound investigation of the origins of female character, that one novel could not encompass it. The Rainbow, then, is the story of those origins; of woman as the eternal life-giver who, through time and change, is finally driven to give birth to herself.

Anyone encountering Lawrence's prose for the first time will feel the immediate force of its revelations, the density of its character and its originality. The opening pages of The Rainbow, with their evocation of the cyclical harmony of man and beast and land, are among the most memorable in English literature: "They felt the rush of the sap in spring, they knew the wave which cannot halt, but every year throws forward the seed to begetting, and, falling back, leaves the young-born on the earth. They knew the intercourse between heaven and earth, sunshine drawn into the breast and bowels, the rain sucked up in the daytime, nakedness that comes under the wind in autumn, showing the birds' nests no longer worth hiding. Their life and inter-relations were such; feeling the pulse and body of the soil, that opened to their furrow for the grain, and became smooth and supple after their ploughing, and clung to their feet with a weight that pulled like desire, lying hard and unresponsive when the crops were shorn away. The young corn waved and was silken, and the lustre slid along the limbs of the men who saw it."

This is provocative writing, but provocation is far from being Lawrence's aim. Rather, he is serving his own vision of an original world free of shame, out of which arises the discord of gender: "The women were different. On them too was the drowse of blood-intimacy, calves sucking and hens running together in droves, and young geese palpitating in the hand while the food was pushed down their throttle. But the women looked out from the heated, blind intercourse of farm-life, to the spoken world beyond. They were aware of the lips and the mind of the world speaking and giving utterance, they heard the sound in the distance, and they strained to listen."

In this Eden, too, the woman's curiosity is the driving force that rouses creation from the stasis of repetition. Is woman wrong to want "another form of life than this, something that was not blood-intimacy"? It is culture, civilisation, she is drawn to: "she strained her eyes to see what man had done in fighting outwards to knowledge, she strained to hear how he uttered himself in this conquest, her deepest desire hung on the battle that she heard, far off, being waged on the edge of the unknown."

Lawrence considers these questions through the medium of English rural life, beginning his story in the small Midlands village of Cossethay just as a canal has been built through it to connect the new collieries, bringing the first signs of the "commotion" – the violation, in Lawrence's sexual-topographical vision – of industrialisation to the slumbrous valley. The Brangwens have farmed there for so long their origins are lost in the mists of time; the men and women of this family experience its transformations through their very bodies and minds, live out its recalibrations of domestic power, material wealth, urban migration, social ambition, sexual possibility. They become aware of the world beyond the village and beyond England, discover the concepts of freedom and choice; like waves that advance and draw back but are always encroaching they move generationally towards education, culture, self-fulfillment.

Ursula and Gudrun Brangwen, the fruit of this long clamber out of stasis and "blood-intimacy", are deposited by the novel's end on the shores of the 20th century: frustrated and desirous in equal measure, vibrating to life at its highest pitch, giving voice to themselves out of the long silence of femininity, they are Lawrence's incarnation of modern womanhood. How will they live? How will they find satisfaction? Not in the manner of their mother or their mother's mother, not by means of domestic power: they will no longer serve as the medium through which life begets itself. The "wave which cannot halt" is to be halted: Ursula and Gudrun realise that to liberate themselves from the cycle of repetition they will require financial independence from men; they will have to educate themselves; they will have to work. And, without the context of hearth and home, childbearing, male protection inextricable from female servitude, what will love between a man and woman be?

These are the questions with which the novel concludes and which Lawrence goes on to address in Woman in Love. But the achievement of The Rainbow in creating the conditions for such questions to be asked is momentous. The Old Testament world of Cossethay, with its ceaseless begetting and harvesting, with the rainbow that stands over it as the sign of God's pleasure in the order of his creation, has finally elapsed. The new world is one of fundamental disorder, a world predicated on the potency of the individual, a world that has moved out of the shelter of God's creation and is creating itself. Lawrence's grasp of what kind of future this implies for men and women, for society, for the earth itself, is extraordinarily complex and prescient. And the "readjustment of the old relation" between the sexes is an evolution in which we remain embroiled, with all the pleasures and pitfalls Lawrence perceived.

The Rainbow retains its power of explanation, its capacity to demystify us to ourselves. Not least physically: to read Lawrence is to read with the body as well as the mind. For this he will always be treated with suspicion, with caution, as long as the formation of the human personality is based around the denial or misrepresentation of the body's wants. But Lawrence possessed the bitter knowledge born of his own experience: that originality and truth will always meet with rejection by the common mind. It was to the individual that he addressed himself, for it is as individuals that we recognise truth, and as individuals that we read. This is why Lawrence was a writer; and why reading him remains a subversive, transformative, life-altering act.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011


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Re: DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Wed Apr 20, 2011 6:17 pm

DH Lawrence has much the same view of women as Stephen Fry

Germaine Greer guardian.co.uk, Sunday 14 November 2010 22.30 GMT


Wham, bam, no thank you ma'am ... DH Lawrence. Photograph: Bettmann/Corbis

All those people who have their hearts in the right place have been celebrating the 50th anniversary of the not guilty verdict in the trial of Penguin Books under the Obscene Publications Act of 1959. The jury found the publisher not guilty because the book in question, Lady Chatterley's Lover, had literary merit. According to the wording of the act, the brainchild of Roy Jenkins, literary merit neutralises any tendency to deprave, corrupt, shock or disgust. Poor old Rochester! Poor old Swift! To think that literary merit had rendered their works innocuous.

Pornography is the literature of prostitution. Prostitution and art have always lived together. The women who posed for Titian with armfuls of flowers and a nipple exposed were courtesans. Courtesans were the only presentable females young English gentlemen met on the Grand Tour; they reigned over the salons, they played the songs of the day and showed off the best and most precious works of the most distinguished artisans. The fact that they were cultivated and eloquent didn't make their virtue any less easy. If they hadn't been so accomplished, they would have been less seductive. In 17th- and 18th-century Europe art encouraged lust. Unfortunately the English seem to have been left short of both. They kept no glorious courtesans. They relieved themselves with women of the streets, who would do the deed for a mutton chop or a dish of coals. Gentlemen read their obscene poems in Latin, less often Greek, because that was the best way of keeping sexual excitement out of the reach of women and servants. The stories of the common folk were equally obscene, but they seldom reached the ears of educated folk. In the 19th century the two realms were converging; the great unwashed were increasingly able to read, and the educated classes were increasingly unable to read any language but English. By the time Lawrence began planning a tale of rude goings-on between a lady and a servant, a new mass readership was ripe for introduction to the joys of literary sex.

Penguin could have tested the egregiousness of the 1959 act with any one of many better novels. Lady Chatterley's Lover is a thoroughly nasty book. This doesn't mean that it should have been banned. Lawrence has much the same view of the sexuality of women as Stephen Fry; they oblige because the men "insist on the sex thing like dogs". Mellors agrees: "The mass of women are like this: most of them want a man, but don't want the sex." Connie is afflicted with a restless modern woman's brain, in so far as she is possessed of a brain at all. For all her education, dimly wondering is what she does best. The sex she has with the gamekeeper is what blues singers call "dry shaving". Wham, bam and no thank you ma'am. "He hated mouth-kisses."

One thing the innocent reader will not learn from Lady Chatterley's Lover is how to fuck. If you are a woman, you learn that you do "wild little cries", the same wild little cries that you will hear porn stars faking on every video. It seems to Mellors that women are "nearly all Lesbian" and when he's with a woman who's really lesbian, he fairly howls in his soul, "wanting to kill her". The evidence that women are lesbian is that they move during sex. Connie just lies there, apparently hallucinating. The mere fact of Mellors's ejaculation in her vagina brings her peace, simply because hers is an act of deep submission and self-abnegation. The reader should not be suprised to find that for Mellors the greatest intimacy is anal intercourse, of which Lawrence provides a description that is at once prudish and rhapsodic. As in all the other descriptions of sexual response, he commandeers Connie's point of view. "… And how, in fear, she had hated it! But how she had really wanted it!" Here is the common rapist's delusion embedded in literature, as if it were a truth.

Mellors has had a wife who, after one of his brief spasms of wordless intermission, would bring herself to orgasm. Baden-Powell himself could not have managed a more horrifying account than Lawrence's of the consequences of masturbation. Bertha couldn't stop frigging herself "as if she had no sensation in her except in the top of her beak, the very outside top tip, that rubbed and tore". At one point Mellors "took her by the neck and squeezed the life out of her". Nice.

Poor old Mellors. He'd got to the point where he thought that the only women who would really come naturally with a man were black, which was sad because for him, a white man, "they're a bit like mud". Lawrence's programming of Connie, all big eyes and heavy body, "faintly golden like a Gloire de Dijon rose", is foolhardy at best. Above all, for his merciless, contemptuous treatment of Clifford Chatterley, blown to bits in Flanders in 1918, Lawrence can be damned to hell. Damned but not banned.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011


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Re: DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Sun May 29, 2011 10:34 pm

4 November 1960: Court victory for "filthy" Lady Chatterley's Lover, novel

Here was a barrister asking human beings alive now, not the patriarchs of ancient Israel, whether this was a book they would like "their wives and servants" to read.



The jury at the Old Bailey found Penguin Books not guilty of obscenity over their publication of the unexpurgated version of Lady Chatterley's Lover, or "Lady C", as the novel had become known. The defence successfully claimed that the book was in the "Public good" as outlined in the Obscene Publications Act 1959.

Reporting of the trial was exhaustive, though the Guardian was the only newspaper to include the work "fuck" in it's court reports. This was the first time the word "fuck" had been used in a national newspaper, or so Wayland Young (bylined above) later claimed

Posted by Guardian Research Department Sunday 29 May 2011 11.00 BST guardian.co.uk

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:17 pm

Lady Chatterley's Lover by DH Lawrence - review

Nicola Barr finds raw power in a book whose literary reputation was overtaken by the controversy surrounding it

Nicola Barr The Observer, Sunday 24 October 2010

It's 50 years since Penguin's publication of DH Lawrence's novel of love across the social divide became the subject of the UK's most famous obscenity trial. Penguin has every right to feel proud of what it did: its new paperbacks were bringing literature to the masses for the price of a packet of cigarettes and it boldly printed 200,000 copies of a book banned since its publication in 1928.


Lady Chatterley's Lover by D. H. Lawrence

Immediately, Whitehall waded in with a prosecution trial, the final verdict in Lawrence's favour being "the gate through which the 60s swung", as Geoffrey Robertson QC has it in his afterword to this newly released edition.

Robertson goes on to reveal how hard the defence had to search to find writers to support the novel as a work of art. Doris Lessing, Robert Graves and Iris Murdoch ("An eminently silly book by a great man") all declined, as – less surprisingly – did a baffled Enid Blyton.

And reading it now? The novel has undoubted raw power. One feels the frustrations of every character – Lady Chatterley, trying to do her duty but numbed by her war-injured, impotent husband ("Dead fish of a gentleman, with his celluloid soul"), the gamekeeper Mellors with his odd, pitiful history of abuse at the hands of sexually aggressive women. And their strange – perhaps ludicrous – union, somehow made worthy of championing. In its situation and its telling, it brims with the revolutionary angst of a country in need of but still a long way from massive social transformation.

"Books may have increased in price even more than cigarettes over the past 50 years but they have caused a lot less harm," concludes Robertson. Indeed, and perhaps the gloomiest part of the whole rather embarrassing, very English scenario is that the days when a work of literature could command this amount of attention were left behind as that gate swung and ushered in the 60s.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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Re: DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:21 pm

Robert McCrum on books

And so to bed again with Lady Chatterley

Rereading classics is an unsurpassed joy and sometimes brings surprises

Robert McCrum The Observer, Sunday 27 March 2011


Two women in 1960 with copies of Lady Chatterley's Lover after a jury at the Old Bailey decided that it was not obscene. Photograph: Keystone/Getty Images

Ever since World Book Day, there has been a lot of loose talk about "the joy of reading". Fair enough, but every reader knows that this "joy" is complex. You can be bored, enraged or frustrated by a book like almost nothing else.

There are compensations. For instance, there's always the guilty pleasure of rereading old favourites. With ageing, this increases. I've been conducting a straw poll of more senior book lovers, asking what they are reading now. "I don't read," said one. "But I reread, all the time. A good book gets better with age."

With this encouragement, since the new year I've pursued a modest programme of rereading: Brighton Rock, Persuasion, The Great Gatsby, The Golden Gate, and Waiting for the Barbarians. It's true. Good books do get better with the passage of time. You find more and different things in them, mixed with bittersweet memories of your first reading. Reading groups are always worrying about which new book to discuss. Why not admit that enough is enough and devote more time to what we already have on the shelves?

There is, however, one problem. Inevitably, there are some writers and books to which it is difficult, if not impossible, to return. D H Lawrence is a notorious case. Like many adolescents, when I was 17, I devoured everything: The Rainbow, Sons and Lovers, Women in Love, the poems and short stories, Kangaroo and, of course, Lady Chatterley's Lover, so recently liberated by a landmark trial. For the teenage reader, Lawrence, the poet and novelist, is the supreme literary artist: vivid, intuitive, sensual and transgressive. But now what? Today, he seems chippy, callow, misogynistic, flashy and irritating, the worst kind of literary windbag. There was no way I could include D H Lawrence, still less Lady Chatterley's Lover, in my rereading programme.

Actually, I did. One should never confuse the improbable with the impossible. On a long drive to Wales, I listened to it as a classic of the spoken word. Naxos, which specialises in exceptional recordings of the English canon, has just issued it as an audiobook, beautifully read by Maxine Peake of Dinnerladies and Shameless.

The audio version of perhaps the most controversial novel of the 20th century is a revelation. I'm not sure that it's a better book on reacquaintance, but it's unquestionably different. The Naxos brochure boldly declares that "Lady Chatterley's Lover is all about sex". But that's wrong. What you discover on a second reading is that it's all about class. And after that, it's all about the wasteland of the years after the Great War. Lawrence, the inveterate finger-wagger, is unequivocal about that. "Ours is essentially a tragic age," he begins. "The catastrophe has happened, we are among the ruins."

And off we go. But here's what I'd forgotten. For nearly 100 pages, Lawrence gives the reader a portrait of a dead marriage between a mismatched couple adrift in "the void" of interwar Britain. It's not until chapter seven that Connie goes up to her bedroom and does "what she had not done for a long time: took off all her clothes, and looked at herself naked in the huge mirror". Several more pages pass before Connie finally submits to the gamekeeper's embrace and we plunge into those hilariously breathless passages our grandparents thought were pornographic.

Meanwhile, everyday life at Wragby Hall and the desiccated literary career of Sir Clifford Chatterley rattle along like subplots torn from the pages of a latterday Mrs Gaskell. Connie is certainly having some sexual epiphanies in the gamekeeper's hut, but she's a metropolitan snob, despite her passion. To Connie, her lover "seemed so unlike a gamekeeper, so unlike a working man anyhow; although he had something in common with the local people". Lawrence emphasises this point by the use of dialect, a theme that emerges more explicitly from Maxine Peake's exemplary reading.

In between the cockeyed social commentary and the phallocentric meeting of Connie and Mellors, there is, as always with Lawrence, some lovely landscape writing. No one does spring better than Lawrence, words that remain timeless and true, especially today: "The bluebells were coming in the wood, and the leaf-buds on the hazels were opening like the splatter of green rain."


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Re: DH Lawrence

Post  eddie on Wed Jun 15, 2011 1:26 pm

Saturday poem

Piano by DH Lawrence

The Guardian, Saturday 2 April 2011



Softly, in the dusk, a woman is singing to me;
Taking me back down the vista of years, till I see
A child sitting under the piano, in the boom of the tingling strings
And pressing the small, poised feet of a mother who smiles as she sings.


In spite of myself, the insidious mastery of song
Betrays me back, till the heart of me weeps to belong
To the old Sunday evenings at home, with winter outside
And hymns in the cosy parlour, the tinkling piano our guide.


So now it is vain for the singer to burst into clamour
With the great black piano appassionato. The glamour
Of childish days is upon me, my manhood is cast
Down in the flood of remembrance, I weep like a child for the past.



From Ten Poems about Mothers edited by Jenny Swann (Candlestick press) £4.95 www.candlestickpress.co.uk

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2011

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