David Herbert Lawrence

Here you will find the Long Poem Snap-Dragon of poet David Herbert Lawrence


She bade me follow to her garden where 
The mellow sunlight stood as in a cup 
Between the old grey walls; I did not dare 
To raise my face, I did not dare look up 
Lest her bright eyes like sparrows should fly in 
My windows of discovery and shrill 'Sin!' 

So with a downcast mien and laughing voice 
I followed, followed the swing of her white dress 
That rocked in a lilt along: I watched the poise 
Of her feet as they flew for a space, then paused to press 
The grass deep down with the royal burden of her: 
And gladly I'd offered my breast to the tread of her. 

'I like to see,' she said, and she crouched her down, 
She sunk into my sight like a settling bird; 
And her bosom crouched in the confines of her gown 
Like heavy birds at rest there, softly stirred 
By her measured breaths: 'I like to see,' said she, 
'The snap-dragon put out his tongue at me.' 

She laughed, she reached her hand out to the flower 
Closing its crimson throat: my own throat in her power 
Strangled, my heart swelled up so full 
As if it would burst its wineskin in my throat, 
Choke me in my own crimson; I watched her pull 
The gorge of the gaping flower, till the blood did float 

        Over my eyes and I was blind -- 
Her large brown hand stretched over 
The windows of my mind, 
And in the dark I did discover 
Things I was out to find: 

My grail, a brown bowl twined 
With swollen veins that met in the wrist, 
Under whose brown the amethyst 
I longed to taste: and I longed to turn 
My heart's red measure in her cup, 
I longed to feel my hot blood burn 
With the lambent amethyst in her cup. 

Then suddenly she looked up 
And I was blind in a tawny-gold day 
Till she took her eyes away. So she came down from above 
And emptied my heart of love . . . 
So I helf my heart aloft 
To the cuckoo that fluttered above, 
And she settled soft. 

It seemed that I and the morning world 
Were pressed cup-shape to take this reiver 
Bird who was weary to have furled 
Her wings on us, 
As we were weary to receive her: 

 This bird, this rich 
 Sumptuous central grain, 
 This mutable witch, 
 This one refrain, 
 This laugh in the fight, 
 This clot of light, 
 This core of night. 

She spoke, and I closed my eyes 
To shut hallucinations out. 
I echoed with surprise 
Hearing my mere lips shout 
The answer they did devise. 

Again, I saw a brown bird hover 
 Over the flowers at my feet; 
 I felt a brown bird hover 
 Over my heart, and sweet 
 Its shadow lay on my heart. 
 I thought I saw on the clover 
 A brown bee pulling apart 
 The closed flesh of the clover 
 And burrowing into its heart. 

She moved her hand, and again 
I felt the brown bird hover 
Over my heart . . . and then 
The bird came down on my heart, 
As on a nest the rover 
Cuckoo comes, and shoves over 
The brim each careful part 
Of love, takes possession and settles down, 
With her wings and her feathers does drown 
The nest in a heat of love. 

She turned her flushed face to me for the glint 
Of a moment. 'See,' she laughed, 'if you also 
Can make them yawn.' I put my hand to the dint 
In the flower's throat, and the flower gaped wide with woe. 
She watched, she went of a sudden intensely still, 
She watched my hand, and I let her watch her fill. 

I pressed the wretched, throttled flower between 
My fingers, till its head lay back, its fangs 
Poised at her: like a weapon my hand stood white and keen, 
And I held the choked flower-serpent in its pangs 
Of mordant anguish till she ceased to laugh, 
Until her pride's flag, smitten, cleaved down to the staff. 

She hid her face, she murmured between her lips 
The low word 'Don't!' I let the flower fall, 
But held my hand afloat still towards the slips 
Of blossom she fingered, and my crisp fingers all 
Put forth to her: she did not move, nor I, 
For my hand like a snake watched hers that could not fly. 
Then I laughed in the dark of my heart, I did exult 
Like a sudden chuckling of music: I bade her eyes 
Meet mine, I opened her helpless eyes to consult 
Their fear, their shame, their joy that underlies 
Defeat in such a battle: in the dark of her eyes 
My heart was fierce to make her laughter rise . . . 
Till her dark deeps shook with convulsive thrills, and the dark 
Of her spirit wavered like water thrilled with light, 
And my heart leaped up in longing to plunge its stark 
Fervour within the pool of her twilight: 
Within her spacious gloom, in the mystery 
Of her barbarous soul, to grope with ecstasy. 

And I do not care though the large hands of revenge 
Shall get my throat at last -- shall get it soon, 
If the joy that they are lifted to avenge 
Have r