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This review is taken from PN Review 1, Volume 4 Number 1, October - December 1977.

A FRENCH UNDERSTANDING OF LAWRENCE Jean-Jacques Mayoux, D. H. Lawrence, Poemes, Chronologie, introduction, traduction et notes, (Collection Bilingue), Aubier, Paris, 48f.

'Lawrence is not also a poet. He is, first, a poet.' So Mayoux begins his introduction, a long and perceptive commentary, touching the life-phases which conditioned the poems: the mother relation, the cycle of women friends, his 'wild and precious solitude'. 'Au commencement était Narcisse.' Then sex as a revelation of 'the other', as a therapy for subjectivity; the reality of Frieda; eventually a Blakean sense of organic union with a cosmos shared with other people and animals. With animal-nature his empathy carried him out of himself to discovery and 'veritablement, de connaissance'. The general past of the world was seen in his own dreamlike fashion. Pansies appears as a bitter and destructive episode. Myths of religion, Egyptian, for example, enter deeply into the last poems. The journey of the dead is behind 'The Ship of Death'. This apocalyptic inspiration includes humanity, not merely the self, as set for death: dying to subjectivity, to be reborn to total consciousness: 'and die the death, the long and painful death / that lies between the old self and the new.' As Mayoux says, visionary power could make a great poem of a doubtful promise.

Mayoux quotes Lawrence on the poetry going 'more by length than by stress-as a matter of movements in space [more] than footsteps hitting the earth.' The American edition of New Poems (1918) was introduced as 'poetry of the present', always in process, not final: 'sketches of poems', he told T. S. Eliot, yet they were ...

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