Thursday, June 18, 2009

The tendril end of spring

On these last days of Spring 09, a spring I have much enjoyed, I offer a poem by DH Lawrence (well, an excerpt anyway) in praise of non-summer, pre-summer, the just-before-the-frenzied-showiness-of-summer time, in praise of this time which yet offers on occasion a little bit of shadow and sluggishness(...and peas!)

Grapes

So many fruits come from roses
From the rose of all roses
From the unfolded rose
Rose of all the world.

Admit that apples and strawberries and peaches and pears and blackberries
Are all Rosaceae
Issue of the explicit rose,
The open-countenanced, skyward-smiling rose.

What then of the vine?
Oh, what of the tendrilled vine?

Ours is the universe of the unfolded rose,
The explicit
The candid revelation.

But long ago, oh, long ago
Before the rose began to smile supreme
Before the rose of all roses, rose of all the world, was even in bud

Before the glaciers were gathered up in a bunch out of the unsettled seas and winds
Or else before they had been let down again, in Noah's flood,
There was another world, a dusky, flowerless, tendrilled world
And creatures webbed and marshy,
And on the margin, men soft-footed and pristine
Still and sensitive, and active,
Audile, tactile sensitiveness as of a tendril which orientates and reaches out,
Reaching out and grasping by an instinct more delicate
than the moon's as she feels for the tides.

Of which world, the vine was the invisible rose.
Before petals spread, before colour made its disturbance,
before eyes saw too much.
In a green, muddy, web-foot, utterly songless world
The vine was rose of all roses.
There were no poppies or carnations
Hardly a greenish lily, watery faint.
Green, dim, invisible flourishing of vines
Royally gesticulate.

Look now, even now, how it keeps its power of invisibility!...

The grape is swart, the avenues dusky and tendrilled,
subtly prehensile,
But we, as we start awake, clutch at our vistas
democratic, boulevards, tram-cars, policemen.
Give us our own back
Let us go to the soda-fountain to get sober.

Soberness, sobriety.
It is like the agonised perverseness of a child heavy
with sleep, yet fighting, fighting to keep awake;
Soberness, sobriety, with heavy eyes propped open.

Dusky are the avenues of wine
And we must cross the frontiers, though we will not
Of the lost, fern-scented world:
Take the fern-seed on our lips
Close the eyes, and go
Down the tendrilled avenues of wine and the other-world.

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