Poetry Sunday: Autumn Rain by D.H. Lawrence

I had never actually realized that D.H. Lawrence wrote poetry. I think of him as a novelist and short-story writer. But in fact, he did write quite a bit of poetry. I read that he was a fan of Walt Whitman and his poetry was influenced by him. His favorite form seems to have been free verse.

I learned about Lawrence, the poet, as I was looking for poetry about autumn during the past week and I happened upon this one. It seems to speak with intensity and vigor of the poet's understanding of and empathy for the natural world. The poem was published in 1917 near the end of World War I and one feels that he must have been influenced by that conflagration. Perhaps that is what he refers to when he writes of "sheaves of pain" and "sheaves of dead men that are slain."


Autumn Rain

by D.H. Lawrence

The plane leaves
fall black and wet
on the lawn;

the cloud sheaves
in heaven’s fields set
droop and are drawn

in falling seeds of rain;
the seed of heaven
on my face

falling — I hear again
like echoes even
that softly pace

heaven’s muffled floor,
the winds that tread
out all the grain

of tears, the store
harvested
in the sheaves of pain

caught up aloft:
the sheaves of dead
men that are slain

now winnowed soft
on the floor of heaven;
manna invisible

of all the pain
here to us given;
finely divisible
falling as rain.

Comments

  1. A wonderful work. Like you, I was unaware of DH Lawrence as a poet. I remember "Lady Chatterly's Lover" being passed from one to another during high school!

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    Replies
    1. The scandalous Lady Chatterley and Sons and Lovers - that's what I remember him for.

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  2. an alright effort i guess... not greatly fond of his writing, but he did produce some pretty good travel writing...

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    Replies
    1. So I understand, although I can't claim to have ever read any of it.

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  3. I agree, I think this was influenced by WW1. Otherwise, some lines just make no sense to me.

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    Replies
    1. I think anyone living in those times would have had to be influenced by what was happening in the world.

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  4. I never knew D.H. Lawrence wrote poetry either. I like this poem better than his books!

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    Replies
    1. I liked it quite a lot myself. I felt it was very evocative of the autumn experience.

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  5. This will take a bit of processing. Is he talking about rain on the battlefield after a battle? Or something else? Those of us who have never been in battle, perhaps, will never understand this poem completely.

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    Replies
    1. I think he was using the rain as a metaphor for the pain of the survivors of that terrible event, not necessarily just the ones on the battlefield but in the world in general. It could be seen as a constant of the human condition; there are always tragedies to afflict us.

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