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Thread: D.H.Lawrence ~ The Tortoise Poems

  1. #46
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    The irony. I've been speaking with a fellow LitNetter about wanting to get into reading more poetry. Hmmm....Janine, you've got to stop wandering into my brain!!!

    I'm a newbie to poetry. Maybe I will see how I work this out!
    "So heaven meets earth like a sloppy wet kiss, and my heart turns violently inside of my chest, I don't have time to maintain these regrets, when I think about, the way....He loves us..."


    http://youtube.com/watch?v=5xXowT4eJjY

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    Grace, glad to see you here! Yes, we must have ESP!
    This poem is a good one - a real puzzle and a challenge. You will like it. We have had good disussions on this thread, thanks to ktd and Virgil, of course.
    I have some new information on the short story. Found some stuff today in a critical review book I bought a year ago and forgot I had. You know the old story: "so many books, too little time."
    Anyway, delighted to see you here, Grace!
    Last edited by Janine; 07-13-2007 at 11:36 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktd222 View Post
    Ok, here are my thoughts.

    I almost want to look at this poem inward out, for what we observe on the tortoise’s shell is in actuality like observing the composition of the tortoise itself. What interest me is the tortoise shell’s structure being likened to all these different creatures:

    “scale-lapping, like a lobster’s sections/or a bee’s; the crossways down his sides/tiger-stripes and wasp-bands; the kicking little beetle”
    ktd,, Hope you caught my other post right after yours last night. Ok, I have been researching and thinking like crazy about this poem. I know what you mean by your first statement. Lawrence does mention the pattern on the underside of the tortoise being similar or the same. I think the animal, insect images are referring to set patterns in nature such as 'wasp-bands', 'tiger-stripes'. These all have a formula and a predestined pattern based on numbers/shapes in nature. Here are some references I have come up with from my readings about patterns in nature:
    This site on patterning, hope this is the right link -
    http://www.scottcamazine.com/personal/DesignNature/

    Also, the references to the pentagon shape are interesting and incorporate the idea of the number 5. If you take a pentagon and connect the points you will come up with a star pattern or the pentagram. Here's the definitions of each:


    pentagon
    In geometry, a pentagon is any five-sided polygon. However, the term is commonly used to mean a regular pentagon, where all sides are equal and all angles are equal (to 108&#176. The angles in every pentagon total 540°, even if each individual angle is not 108°. Its Schläfli symbol is {5}.
    The area of a regular pentagon with side length t is given by
    The sides and diagonals of a regular pentagon are in the golden ratio.

    A pentagram
    A pentagram (sometimes known as pentalpha or pentangle) is the shape of a five-pointed star drawn with five straight strokes. The word pentagram comes from the Greek word πεντάγραμμον (pentagrammon), a noun form of πεντάγραμμος (pentagrammos) or πεντέγραμμος (pentegrammos), a word meaning roughly "five-lined" or "five lines".
    Pentagrams were used symbolically in ancient Greece and Babylonia. The Pentagram has magical associations, and many people who practice neopagan faiths wear jewelry incorporating the symbol. Christians once more commonly used the pentagram to represent the five wounds of Jesus,[1][2] and it also has associations within Freemasonry.
    The pentagram has long been associated with the planet Venus, and the worship of the goddess Venus, or her equivalent. It is also associated with the Roman Lucifer, who was Venus as the Morning Star, the bringer of light and knowledge. It is most likely to have originated from the observations of prehistoric astronomers.[citation needed] When viewed from Earth, successive inferior conjunctions of Venus plot a nearly perfect pentagram shape around the zodiac every eight years.
    The word "pentacle" is sometimes used synonymously with "pentagram", although their technical usages are different, and their etymologies may be unrelated.[3]
    From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Note throughout both texts an emphasis on the number 5. The star formed by the pentagram has 5 points and the pentagon has 5 points and 5 sides. Also most notable is that in nature the pentagon is the shape of a cell in a bee's honeycomb. If you look at the back of a tortoise two things stand out right away - the top series of the shell parts look like a lobster. The second thing I notice is the the sections also look similar to pentagons.


    The importance of these specific creatures…I don’t know; but I think the more important thing is we “see life playing” on the tortoise shell. In the last poem I questioned whether Lawrence believed in evolution; in this poem Lawrence states the Lord set out the plan on the tortoise; in this way I feel the tortoise did not evolve from other creatures as a result of there surroundings more than the tortoise came about in accordance to His plan.
    I believe the significance of the creatures is two-fold. These are creatures that correlate with ancient myth and the bible. Also, they represent the patterning found in nature as I pointed out in the last paragraph. I agree about the line "to see life playing", but put that back into context, you will understand that entire idea and statement that Lawrence is saying "It needed Pythagoras to see life playing with counters on the living back" - with "counters" part is important. Here is a brief history on Pythagoras (I underlined key phrases, words that might pertain to the ideas we are discussing in reference to the poem):

    Pythagoras
    Pythagoras of Samos (Greek: Πυθαγόρας; between 580 and 572 BC–between 500 and 490 BC) was an Ionian (Greek) philosopher[1] and founder of the religious movement called Pythagoreanism. He is often revered as a great mathematician, mystic and scientist; however some have questioned the scope of his contributions to mathematics or natural philosophy. [2] His name led him to be associated with Pythian Apollo; Aristippus explained his name by saying, "He spoke (agor-) the truth no less than did the Pythian (Pyth-)," and Iamblichus tells the story that the Pythia prophesied that his pregnant mother would give birth to a man supremely beautiful, wise, and of benefit to humankind. [3]
    He is best known for the Pythagorean theorem which bears his name. Known as "the father of numbers," Pythagoras made influential contributions to philosophy and religious teaching in the late 6th century BC. Because legend and obfuscation cloud his work even more than with the other pre-Socratics, one can say little with confidence about his life and teachings. We do know that Pythagoras and his students believed that everything was related to mathematics and that numbers were the ultimate reality and, through mathematics, everything could be predicted and measured in rhythmic patterns or cycles. According to Iamblichus, Pythagoras once said that "number is the ruler of forms and ideas and the cause of gods and demons."
    He was the first man to call himself a philosopher, or lover of wisdom. Many of the accomplishments of Plato, Aristotle and Copernicus were based on the ideas of Pythagoras. Unfortunately, very little is known about Pythagoras because none of his writings have survived. Many of the accomplishments credited to Pythagoras may actually have been accomplishments of his colleagues and successors.
    From Wikipedia
    The other thing I noticed you two noticed as well: the importance of numbers in this poem. For me the denomination that stood out was five, since the tortoise was described as a “five-folded complex-natured” creature. I think if you go through the poem and count the number of creatures that are mentioned, you get five. And if you look at the grooves that run throughout the tortoise shell, it is analogous to one river that feeds into a whole bunch of smaller streams which crisscross each other. The numbers “fives and tens/threes and fours and twelves” can be obtained, depending on which streams you select for the river to feed into, sectioning off the spaces(like the sections of the tortoise shell) in between the streams.
    Again since you said this, I have noticed '5' being prominent in the poem, but in this stanza, I think Lawrence is pointing out important numbers found in Revelations/Apogalypse:

    Fives, and tens,
    Threes and fours and twelves,
    All the volte face of decimals,
    The whirligig of dozens and the pinnacle of seven
    ktd, is there actually 5 creatures mentioned? I am fascinated with this thought. Your last statement about the river I don't quite understand in relation to the numbers, but I find it totally intriguing. There again, nature is set by a mathematical equation or pattern. This highly interests me.

    Even more important than the number five is every fifth integer: five, ten, fifteen, etc. This fifth integer was described as the keystone at one point in the poem, which is a kind of lock that is used as support by keeping arches locked to each other; in another part of the poem the fifth integer is the “wedge-balancing head” needed to balance off the “four rowing limbs”. But in another part of the poem it is described as the “problematic thumb-piece” to the other “four pin-point toes”. What? I don’t get this because it goes contradictory to the stabilization factor of this fifth integer.
    Now you are talking in an engineering mind and I can only half grasp what you are saying. Again it does intrigue me. I think the 5 pin-point toes can be correlated to a human hand with 5 fingers. In this passage from Lawrence's book "Apogalypse" he writes:

    Chapter Twenty

    The number ten is the natural number of a series. 'It is by nature that the Hellenes count up to ten and then start over again.' It is of course the number of the fingers of the two hands. This repetition of five observed throughout nature was one of the things that led the Pythagoreans to assert that 'all things are number'. In the Apocalypse, ten is the 'natural' or complete number of a series. The Pythagoreans, experimenting with pebbles, found that ten pebbles could be laid out in a triangle of 4 + 3 + 2 + I: and this sent their minds off in imagination.
    Also, note 4, 3, 2, 1 add up to 10. Half of 10 is 5 - prominent in the poem, since the cross divides the shell into halves and then halves again. 5 are the number of fingers/toes in humans. Lawrence is referring to the tortoise “four pin-point toes” and then "Four rowing limbs, and one wedge-balancing head" -could this correspond to human beings having - two hands/arms and two feet/legs and a head. This conjures up to me DiVinci's image of a man set in a Pentagon. This being the perfect mathematical and balanced image of man. I too wonder why L is calling the thumb-piece problematical. What exactly is the thumb-piece, do you know? Are the toes on a tortoise's foot 4 pointed and therefore devoid of a thumb as humans?

    In my next post, I will quote some more references from "Apogalyse" about numerology. This might throw more light on the significance of the creatures and the number significance, as well.
    Last edited by Janine; 07-12-2007 at 01:04 AM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    I thought I’d share this. I think I can identify most of the numbers he mentioned in the poem. When I say groove, I’m referring to the yellow line moving up/down and right/left of the segment(which are the colored-in geometric structures) on the back of these tortoise shells.

    Along the back of the baby tortoise
    The scales are locked in an arch like a bridge,
    Scale-lapping, like a lobster's sections
    Or a bee's.
    Note the segments straight down the middle. To either right or left of the middle are colored segments which do like lobster’s or bee’s segments. If you look at the segments from a lateral view the segments do look like a bridge.

    Then crossways down his sides
    Tiger-stripes and wasp-bands.
    The grooves which are horizontal to the vertical segments, these grooves do move in a “crossways” fashion, and do look like stripes or bands.

    Five, and five again,
    And round the edges twenty-five little ones,
    The sections of the baby tortoise shell.
    If you count the segments inside the “twenty-five little ones” around the edge of the tortoise shell, not counting the three segments that are positioned vertically down the middle of the tortoise shell, you will count ten segments. If you move in a circular motion and count up the segments you will get five, and then keep moving around in until you complete the circle and you will get another five segments. I hope that is what he means by “five, and five again”.

    Four, and a keystone;
    Four, and a keystone;
    Four, and a keystone;
    Then twenty-four, and a tiny little keystone.
    On the back of the shell, the segments that are in the middle moving vertically upward(imagine the top segment as the keystone), then if you count the segments on each side and in the middle, vertically upward until you reach the keystone, you will count four segments each.

    Fives, and tens,
    Threes and fours and twelves,
    All the volte face of decimals,
    The whirligig of dozens and the pinnacle of seven.
    I can’t tell you what he is referring to when he mentions “fives, and tens,/threes and fours and twelves”, but I can tell you where he possible saw the “pinnacle of seven” on this tortoise’s shell. If you take all the segments running down the middle of this tortoise shell and count, you get five segments; then go crosswise , say, at between the top segment and segment right below and count, you get another two segments. So the total is seven segments which forms a cross.

    You can identify the cleavages underneath this tortoise shell as well, by counting segments in this way.

  5. #50
    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    That is great work KTD!!! Two thumbs up. A picture says it all. So do you think he's just putting into words the natural reality, or do you think there is some numerology (i.e. mystic) meaning to it all?
    Last edited by Virgil; 07-12-2007 at 01:58 PM.
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    ktd, thanks for all the mathematical explanations and the photos. I will read what you have written a few times more and correlate with the photos. I also found some photos to post last night but it was too late, now you have beat me to it. Strangely enough your shells are more patterned than mine I found on the net, and they do remind me of the other creatures mentioned. I found plainer shelled ones, but the lobster in the center stands out espeically (it was the first thing I thought of when finding these photos) Their center shells overlap each other like scales. Your tortoises seems to have smooth shells - very beautiful they are, by the way! I will post the photo at the end of my post.

    First, has anyone read my terribly long post? Sorry it was a lot to read. I was trying to get to a few points, but I may have overstated my idea by posting too much text. Here is the essense of it which I think answers Virgil's last question.

    I think the animal, insect images are referring to set patterns in nature such as 'wasp-bands', 'tiger-stripes'. These all have a formula and a predestined pattern based on numbers/shapes in nature. Here are some references I have come up with from my readings about patterns in nature:
    This site on patterning, hope this is the right link -
    http://www.scottcamazine.com/personal/DesignNature/

    Also, the references to the pentagon shape are interesting and incorporate the idea of the number 5. If you take a pentagon and connect the points you will come up with a star pattern or the pentagram.
    I believe the significance of the creatures is two-fold. These are creatures that correlate with ancient myth and the bible. Also, they represent the patterning found in nature as I pointed out in the last paragraph. I agree about the line "to see life playing", but put that back into context, you will understand that entire idea and statement that Lawrence is saying "It needed Pythagoras to see life playing with counters on the living back" - with "counters" part is important.
    Pythagoras was considered the 'Father of Mathematics'. The pentagon and the pentagram play into this scheme in that prominent are the 5 points and the number 5 which makes up parts of the scheme. There are many ideas associated with the number 5 and 7 as you have pointed out ktd. Pentagons are part of a bees honeycomb, also a set pattern in the universe.
    I think Lawrence is seeing in this tortoise's shell a mathematical formula that corresponds to all creation, man included. We have so many teeth, 2 feet, 2 hands, two lungs, one heart, etc. The outer shell of the tortoise only displays all of the patterns of creation and the physical world. The bee has a set pattern of stripes, the tiger as well; beetles have a shell, not so unlike the protective shell of the tortoise. Lobsters have a shell with a set number of segments. Man can stand and extend his arms and legs and head and be contained within a circle, these are set proportions in nature. (interesting since Lawrence believed as the ancients that time ran in a circular fashion and not a straight line.)

    I think this poem encompasses a broader scale of thought. Lawrence's thoughts were very connected to the heavens and I believe the stanza with all the numbers refers to a more universal heavenly connection to life. Lawrence believed all creation was a part of the patterns found in the heavens, planets, stars, universe. Therefore, man and this one tiny creature are connected to all living things and the universe.
    Last edited by Janine; 07-12-2007 at 02:00 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    I think this poem encompasses a broader scale of thought. Lawrence's thoughts were very connected to the heavens and I believe the stanza with all the numbers refers to a more universal heavenly connection to life. Lawrence believed all creation was a part of the patterns found in the heavens, planets, stars, universe. Therefore, man and this one tiny creature are connected to all living things and the universe.
    I did read it Janine and found it helpful. I think your comment here is right on. I agree Lawrence is trying to interconnect all of creation and yet the tortoise is an animal with a will. I think the cross is the symbol that separates the tortoise from the heavens. It doesn't seem to be within the numerical context.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    Virgil, thanks for reading my posts. I think the cross is significant - why else would he begin the poem with it? Also he repeats the idea throughout the poem. Do you think it is a reference to Christ or to something more Lawrencian - more universal? I would be interested to hear more of your theory on the idea of the cross. Interesting that it is made up of the number 7 as ktd points out since 7 is very prominent throughout the bible and history. The numbers have to mean something, have some direct significance, don't you think?

    Here is a link to some more tortoise photos - these are much different than what ktd posted. Maybe these are the common garden variety

    This might come out huge, I tried to reduce them with no luck in the photo program - sorry if it is a large photo.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Janine,

    I will try and reply to your posts in the next couple of days. I'm working full shift for Thursday and Friday, so I will be too tired to give your posts proper attention.

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktd222 View Post
    Janine,

    I will try and reply to your posts in the next couple of days. I'm working full shift for Thursday and Friday, so I will be too tired to give your posts proper attention.
    ktd, no problem at all. How sweet and considerate you are to post this to let me know. I would like to take a little 'brain' break myself. Do take your time, and get back to me on my posts... eventually, when you are better able take a breather from work. I fully understand. Hope work goes well for you. We all have 'real' lives outside of Lit Net. I went out all afternoon and quite enjoyed my real life today - no thought of tortoises!
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    I did a little reseach on Lawrence's Tortoise poems and I wanted to share it with you. The Tortoise poems are a sequence of six poems that Lawrence wrote and first published as a small bookl called Tortoise (1921) and then incoproated into a much larger book of poems called Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1923). The Tortoise poems were actually written in September of 1920 while Lawrence was staying alone in Florence, Italy. The six poems are called "Baby Tortoise," "Tortoise Shell," "Tortoise Family Connections," "Lui Et Elle," "Tortoise Gallantry," and "Tortoise Shout." The movement of the poems goes from birth to adulthood to death. Thy span the life cycle.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    I did a little reseach on Lawrence's Tortoise poems and I wanted to share it with you. The Tortoise poems are a sequence of six poems that Lawrence wrote and first published as a small bookl called Tortoise (1921) and then incoproated into a much larger book of poems called Birds, Beasts and Flowers (1923). The Tortoise poems were actually written in September of 1920 while Lawrence was staying alone in Florence, Italy. The six poems are called "Baby Tortoise," "Tortoise Shell," "Tortoise Family Connections," "Lui Et Elle," "Tortoise Gallantry," and "Tortoise Shout." The movement of the poems goes from birth to adulthood to death. Thy span the life cycle.
    Virgil, this is good information; thanks for digging it up. I was wondering when they were written. In my book I have all of them. When ktd first asked about "Baby Tortoise" I looked it up and saw there were more of them to my initial surprise. Interesting they were first published in their own book or volume. I knew about the series "Birds, Beasts and Flowers". It makes sense they were later incorporated into this collection. Are we then, doing them in the right order? This one speaks of the tortoise as being a baby T, as well. I think it was next in my book and it is second in your list. I will check my book. I read part of "Tortoise Family Connections". I think that one is quite long. This is so interesting that it goes from birth to adulthood to death. Lawrence would think in this way.
    Glad to have started this thread - it is a good one and so are the discussions so far. I had never read this series of poems before now. I think they are marvelous.
    Last edited by Janine; 07-13-2007 at 11:38 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

    Chapter 7, The Little Prince ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

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    Have you ever participated in a discussion, left the discussion for a while, and when you came back everything said seems so confusing? That’s how I feel right now.

    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    That is great work KTD!!! Two thumbs up. A picture says it all. So do you think he's just putting into words the natural reality, or do you think there is some numerology (i.e. mystic) meaning to it all?
    Thanks Virgil.
    Janine stated it well:
    I think this poem encompasses a broader scale of thought. Lawrence's thoughts were very connected to the heavens and I believe the stanza with all the numbers refers to a more universal heavenly connection to life. Lawrence believed all creation was a part of the patterns found in the heavens, planets, stars, universe. Therefore, man and this one tiny creature are connected to all living things and the universe.


    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    ktd,, Hope you caught my other post right after yours last night. Ok, I have been researching and thinking like crazy about this poem. I know what you mean by your first statement. Lawrence does mention the pattern on the underside of the tortoise being similar or the same. I think the animal, insect images are referring to set patterns in nature such as 'wasp-bands', 'tiger-stripes'. These all have a formula and a predestined pattern based on numbers/shapes in nature. Here are some references I have come up with from my readings about patterns in nature:
    This site on patterning, hope this is the right link -
    http://www.scottcamazine.com/personal/DesignNature/
    I read the link. As I said in my first post this poem seems to dismiss the theory of evolution in favor of a divine plan; so I’m kind of skeptical about the theories given by these scientists, since the patterns we see seem preordained by a divine power.

    I like what you said about these creatures which are mentioned following a predestined numbering system; it goes well with the numbering system that is emerging from the description of the tortoise shell and tortoise itself.

    Yes…about the “mentioning of pattern on the underside of the tortoise being similar or the same.” But even one step further…to say that the patterns provided on the tortoise’s shell was seared right into the marrow of this tortoise.

    I believe the significance of the creatures is two-fold. These are creatures that correlate with ancient myth and the bible. Also, they represent the patterning found in nature as I pointed out in the last paragraph. I agree about the line "to see life playing", but put that back into context, you will understand that entire idea and statement that Lawrence is saying "It needed Pythagoras to see life playing with counters on the living back" - with "counters" part is important. Here is a brief history on Pythagoras (I underlined key phrases, words that might pertain to the ideas we are discussing in reference to the poem):


    Again since you said this, I have noticed '5' being prominent in the poem, but in this stanza, I think Lawrence is pointing out important numbers found in Revelations/Apogalypse:
    Yes, those “two-fold” notes are significant. I would like to here more of the mythical significance of these creatures though.

    What’s interesting about this stanza is the reference of the tortoise shell as the “first eternal mathematical tablet,” which can be construed as every other mathematical pattern we see emerging (however complex) in other species derives from the original patterns we see on the tortoise shell.

    I was thinking about five as being the important denomination/factor on this tortoise shell and its possible connection to these other numbers(threes and fours and twelves; seven)…and I wonder if the cross shape on the tortoise shell is the “glue” which makes the pattern we see possible; it’s a theory.


    ktd, is there actually 5 creatures mentioned?
    Yes, he did mention five creatures:

    “scale-lapping, like a lobster’s sections/or a bee’s; the crossways down his sides/tiger-stripes and wasp-bands; the kicking little beetle”


    Now you are talking in an engineering mind and I can only half grasp what you are saying. Again it does intrigue me. I think the 5 pin-point toes can be correlated to a human hand with 5 fingers. In this passage from Lawrence's book "Apogalypse" he writes:

    Also, note 4, 3, 2, 1 add up to 10. Half of 10 is 5 - prominent in the poem, since the cross divides the shell into halves and then halves again. 5 are the number of fingers/toes in humans. Lawrence is referring to the tortoise “four pin-point toes” and then "Four rowing limbs, and one wedge-balancing head" -could this correspond to human beings having - two hands/arms and two feet/legs and a head. This conjures up to me DiVinci's image of a man set in a Pentagon. This being the perfect mathematical and balanced image of man. I too wonder why L is calling the thumb-piece problematical. What exactly is the thumb-piece, do you know? Are the toes on a tortoise's foot 4 pointed and therefore devoid of a thumb as humans?
    Yeah, it just seemed that whenever the tortoise was described, there was extra emphasis on the fifth segment, or twenty-fifth segment, or the fifth toe, or fifth limb.

    I wish “threes and fours and twelves” added up to ten; then the first part of that one stanza would fit perfectly; but other than this little bit, you make a good connection between humans and tortoises.

    As for the “thumb-piece,” I really don’t know. Do tortoises have a need for this “thumb-piece”? Doesn’t a “thumb-piece” mean just a piece of a thumb?

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktd222 View Post
    Have you ever participated in a discussion, left the discussion for a while, and when you came back everything said seems so confusing? That’s how I feel right now.
    ktd, so sorry....Yeah, someone just popped into the "Women in Love"/last month's book and said they nearly finished up their reading, then commented 'how am I suppose to read through 16 pgs of postings?' I had to sympathise. I went back to try to find what she was referring to specifically in a question to the forum and I felt totally lost; and many of those postings I had done myself! I can imagine that you were confused, but glad to see you took one thing at a time and commented on them accordingly.

    Janine stated it well:
    "I think this poem encompasses a broader scale of thought. Lawrence's thoughts were very connected to the heavens and I believe the stanza with all the numbers refers to a more universal heavenly connection to life. Lawrence believed all creation was a part of the patterns found in the heavens, planets, stars, universe. Therefore, man and this one tiny creature are connected to all living things and the universe."


    I read the link. As I said in my first post this poem seems to dismiss the theory of evolution in favor of a divine plan; so I’m kind of skeptical about the theories given by these scientists, since the patterns we see seem preordained by a divine power.

    I like what you said about these creatures which are mentioned following a predestined numbering system; it goes well with the numbering system that is emerging from the description of the tortoise shell and tortoise itself.

    Yes…about the “mentioning of pattern on the underside of the tortoise being similar or the same.” But even one step further…to say that the patterns provided on the tortoise’s shell was seared right into the marrow of this tortoise.

    Glad you agree with these ideas. They are Lawrence's of course, but I do believe the universe is ordered and runs by a system. I don't know if this eliminated the whole idea of 'evolution', since L was very aware of Darwin's studies on the subject. Lawrence did feel the connectiveness of all creation. I think in the final line of this poem, I can now see the entire theme of the poem in these lines:

    The complex, manifold involvedness of an individual creature
    Plotted out
    On this small bird, this rudiment,
    This little dome, this pediment
    Of all creation,
    This slow one.
    Here we see the connection summed up - the small creature to the larger whole of all creation. Lawrence believed in the connection of the individual with the collective in all of life.


    Yes, those “two-fold” notes are significant. I would like to here more of the mythical significance of these creatures though.
    I know, I have been trying to figure that out, because in his "Apogalypse" book he does point out many mythological creatures and their significance. I can see the bee's connectiveness to the poem's ideas with the hive and the honeycomb, which is made up of penagons and all make a 'collective whole'. Does this not mimic the idea of small parts/beings making up a universal whole? The individual bee works separately, but for the collective good and the queen who is the ruler. Other than the patterns on the bodies of the other creatures I am not sure of their significance. I know beetles do have significance in ancient lore, beetles or the scarab are found throughout Egyptian civilization and have great significance. Let me look up all the animals/creatures and see if I can come up with something else.

    “scale-lapping, like a lobster’s sections/or a bee’s; the crossways down his sides/tiger-stripes and wasp-bands; the kicking little beetle”

    I was also thinking that lobsters are sea creatures - water, bees are air, tigers are land, and beetle are insects (fire?). I had the vague thought about the 4 elements: fire, earth, air, water. These 4 are mentioned in the "Apogalypse" and also Revelations and astrology. Maybe one represents the idea of fire. I am not sure - could the beetle? Fireflies are a kind of beetle right?

    What’s interesting about this stanza is the reference of the tortoise shell as the “first eternal mathematical tablet,” which can be construed as every other mathematical pattern we see emerging (however complex) in other species derives from the original patterns we see on the tortoise shell.
    I do agree fully.

    I was thinking about five as being the important denomination/factor on this tortoise shell and its possible connection to these other numbers(threes and fours and twelves; seven)…and I wonder if the cross shape on the tortoise shell is the “glue” which makes the pattern we see possible; it’s a theory.
    I don't know exactly. Perhaps. It is an interesting theory. I read recently that Lawrence stated that sometimes an image will just suggest to us things ingrained in our subconscious. I would think this image of a cross, as soon as he says it in the first lines, brings to mind religious connotations and significance. What that means to Lawrence I am not quite sure. I am still pondering that part. But the fact that he does repeat cross so often, makes me long to know the full significance of the word in the way he is using it here.

    I have a question. If you look on the various tortoise photos, where is the keystone L is referring to? To note: I like your tortoise better than mine I posted; their shells are extraordinaryly beautiful! I only posted mine thinking they were plainer, perhaps the garden variety; also the fact that the shells seem to overlap, as Lawrence indicated in the poem. I thought particularly the lobster part stood out; when I first found the photo, I saw that right away. I don't know much about Tortoises or where they live or what varieties there are, do you? Apparently, as Virgil mentioned in his post, these poems were written when Lawrence was in Italy. So I suppose L's tortoise was Italian. Hear that Virgil?


    Yeah, it just seemed that whenever the tortoise was described, there was extra emphasis on the fifth segment, or twenty-fifth segment, or the fifth toe, or fifth limb.

    I wish “threes and fours and twelves” added up to ten; then the first part of that one stanza would fit perfectly; but other than this little bit, you make a good connection between humans and tortoises.

    As for the “thumb-piece,” I really don’t know. Do tortoises have a need for this “thumb-piece”? Doesn’t a “thumb-piece” mean just a piece of a thumb?
    This part with the thumb-piece has me puzzled, too. I have to think more closely on the idea. Another idea on the cross - it is a division of the whole into 4 parts - perhaps symbolising the elements which the animals represent. I do feel the whole poem mimics the 'formula' of the 'universal pattern idea' of the poem - the orderly way the universe is predestined, or designed by pattern and by mathematical significance.

    The 'threes and fours and twelves' is explained extensively in L's "Apogalypse". Three times four is twelve. Two times 5 is 10, two halves of a whole. Then divide again, as in the cross and you have 4 parts. Maybe you can get a copy from your library of his "Apogalypse" or if you're patient, I can send you those pages, if I successfully scan the copy I have. I want to scan the entire book (to keep as reference), but last night I tried one page and I had to do a lot of fixing of the text. It translated poorly to my 'Word' program for some reason, has an odd type style. I want to copy the book, but might end up photo copying it; that will take a lot of ink - 125 pages. The book is rare and hard to come by and on Amazon it is quite expensive for a used copy. The book may be strange, as Virgil said, but it is fascinating. Just the 'numerology' part had me captivated.
    Last edited by Janine; 07-15-2007 at 05:16 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

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  15. #60
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    Wow, ktd and Janine - Those two last posts of your are excellent. Kudos.

    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Glad you agree with these ideas. They are Lawrence's of course but I do believe the universe is ordered and runs by a system. I don't know if this eliminated the whole idea of evolution since L was very aware of Darwin's studies on the subject. Lawrence did feel the connectiveness of all creation. I think in the final line of this poem I can now see the entire them of the poem in thest lines:
    I agree with all, that the pattern is emblematic for the universal order and connected to its system. I don't think, ktd, that it means that Lawrence doesn't believe in Darwin. I don't know whether he does or doesn't, but evolution could have been a means of the universe's system.

    I have a question. If you look on the various tortoise photos, where is the keystone L is referring to?
    I would say the top "stone" of the shell pattern is the keystone for each stripe. So for each stripe across there is a keystone. I could be wrong.

    Apparently, as Virgil mentioned in his post, these poems were written when Lawrence was in Italy. So I suppose L's tortoise was Italian. Hear that Virgil...
    Are Italian tortoises any different than others? Well, we Italians are different.

    This part with the thumb-piece has me puzzled, too. I have to think more closely on the idea. Another idea on the cross - it is a division of the whole into 4 parts - perhaps symbolising the elements which the animals represent. I do feel the whole poem mimics the 'formula' of the 'universal pattern idea' of the poem - the orderly way the universe is predestined, or designed by pattern and by mathematical significance.
    This is true, the cross divides into four quadrants. But I have read elsewhere (I believe in Twilight In Italy, look in "The Crucifix Across The Mountains") that Lawrence sees a cross as splitting things into two. The cross beam divides the pole into two. Divides the crucified into an upper half and lower. Perhaps he simultaneously means both divide into two and four.

    The 'threes and fours and twelves' is explained extensively in L's "Apogalypse". Three time four is twelve. Maybe you can get a copy from your library or if you're patient, I can send you those pages, if I successfully scan the copy I have. I want to scan the entire book (to keep as reference), but last night I tried one page and I had to do a lot of fixing of the text. It translated poorly to my 'Word' program for some reason, has an odd type style. I want to copy the book, but might end up photo copying it; that will take a lot of ink - 125 pages. The book is rare and hard to come by and on Amazon it is quite expensive for a used copy.
    I should be lucky to have a copy. I have a paperback, put out Penguin, last published in 1976. Price on the book says $7.95. Oh and Janine, it is spelled "Apocalypse" not "Apogalypse." Why are you spelling it such?
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

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