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Thread: D.H.Lawrence ~ The Tortoise Poems

  1. #61
    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    Wow, ktd and Janine - Those two last posts of your are excellent. Kudos.
    So what did you think - we were just "pretty faces?" Thanks for you compliments.
    ktd really got me started on my post. Good points, ktd! simulated me to think harder; now my poor brain aches.

    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.
    Agreed.

    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.
    Virgil,I will have to check out the photos again. I just could not see it. Maybe now I will. What do you consider the stripes anyway? Also what exactly does a keystone mean. I meant to look that one up. You would think I would know it being an artist and studied architecture. My brain is snoozing right now.

    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.
    Yeah, different - that is for sure! Don't we know that. Well, perhaps you're more connected to the universe than we are. or in outerspace Take your pick!

    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.
    Yes, I read this also in "Twilight in Italy." in fact as I was writing this part of my post, I was thinking about Lawrence's trek through those mountains and all the crosses. When did he write TII? I will have to go look it up. Maybe he had crosses on the brain then. That is right - he did see them splitting in two halves. Well, that would mimic parts of the poem with the divisions he makes. Two divisions would be 4 - correct.

    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?
    You are lucky. It sells with other writings, used, for about $30. Forget it; I will copy it.
    Why am I spelling it wrong? Answer is: several reasons - I can't spell worth a darn and I glanced at the book and can't see worth a darn, either (called old age and bifocals!)
    ...Ugh ...now I will have to go back and correct all those spellings, or I will look like a total dunce to everyone.
    Last edited by Janine; 07-15-2007 at 05:48 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 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.
    That’s great information Virgil! It really puts the two tortoise poems we read into context. So now that we’ve got a good look at this baby tortoise I wonder what will come next? It is pretty unfathomable to think of framing the progression of my poems before writing them. I wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? No, I’m just kidding…I wonder if Lawrence had the progression worked out before writing these poems.


    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    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.
    No, the only difference is the turtles in the picture I posted had been butchered, cleaned, and waxed

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    Quote Originally Posted by ktd222 View Post
    That’s great information Virgil! It really puts the two tortoise poems we read into context. So now that we’ve got a good look at this baby tortoise I wonder what will come next? It is pretty unfathomable to think of framing the progression of my poems before writing them. I wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? No, I’m just kidding…I wonder if Lawrence had the progression worked out before writing these poems.
    Interesting question - which came first his framing, conception, or the poems? humm... Knowing L's work and the way he worked, he probably worked them out together somehow or envisioned them first or rewrote until they took on the stages of life. What a novel concept to envision and then write in this manner.


    No, the only difference is the turtles in the picture I posted had been butchered, cleaned, and waxed
    Yes, it should be interesting to see the next poem. I have it copied and ready to post when we finish up this one.

    ouuu...that is sad. I thought your turtles were alive. *Duh, then where are the heads, tails, feet, Janine?* Of course, I am a hypocrite since I do love snapper soup, but those snappers are mean and rather ugly. Hard to believe these guys in your photo once looked like mine, after the whole preserving process. I don't detect any overlapping in the shells, though. I imagine the patterns on the shells would come out when wet, like in seashells. Interesting.
    "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
    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:

    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, you’d divulged to me this little nugget of truth regarding Lawrence and evolution a month or two ago; but gosh, it is so hard for me to see evolution and a “planned” process coexisting in this poem. I’ll make an effort for you and Virgil though.

    I think Virgil recognized the importance of this last stanza in identifying the theme of this poem first. So thank you Virgil. But you have summed it up beautifully, Janine.

    I will try and expand on your comments. Look at the word “manifold.” In the context of this stanza the word “manifold” is not defined, that is there’s no number identifying a degree of complexity involved in creating an individual creature. Now, just two stanzas before is a line that read “through his five-fold complex-nature.” Here we are told the exact degree of what made this tortoise. And throughout the poem we are given mathematical hints, a coefficient factor of sorts, as to how life in this world varies. However complex creatures become, they do so by a factor of five. Wow!!! In the beginning was the equation, something containable we can write out, seemingly rigid, to define the way in which all organisms arise; but the equation does not have one single answer, or two or three. The application of this equation results in that which is uncontainable, because it produces limitless answers.

    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?
    Plus he adds in “The Lord” towards the end of the poem. I mean, with respect to the rest of the poem doesn’t it seem “The Cross” represents more than just a belief, a way to live this life? Doesn’t Lawrence show that the basic building block of all organisms is the Cross?

    I think Virgil said it, so I would like to reiterate that the keystone is the segment at which the arch formed by segments divides into halves. It is also worth noting that the keystone, as defined online is a wedge-shaped piece, similarly as the tortoise head is described as a “wedge-balancing head.”


    The 'threes and fours and twelves' is explained extensively in L's "Apogalypse". Three times four is twelve.
    This would have made sense if he said “threes and fours is twelves…” or something to that affect.

    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.
    This part I can grasp. No thank you, about the book. But I would like to hear what you thought about it when you’re done reading it. Send me a PM. Sorry, I’m just being lazy.

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Good post ktd! You have me thinking on a number of things. I will answer tomorrow, unless Virgil beats me to it. I will add something anyway, even if he does post first. I have to think about several things you wrote; I am too tired now to write anymore on Lit Net.

    Good news is that today I found a copy of "Apocalypse" on Amazon at a reasonable price and ordered it, so now I don't have to scan the whole book. Yeah!

    I am trying to track down other books I need for research, etc. I also found the entire text for "Kangaroo" online, Virgil. Is that fortunate or what? And the file is downloadable and free so I was thrilled to find it.
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by Janine View Post
    Good news is that today I found a copy of "Apocalypse" on Amazon at a reasonable price and ordered it, so now I don't have to scan the whole book. Yeah!

    I am trying to track down other books I need for research, etc. I also found the entire text for "Kangaroo" online, Virgil. Is that fortunate or what? And the file is downloadable and free so I was thrilled to find it.
    You had a good day then Janine. I'll still look for a traditional text of Kangaroo for you.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Quote Originally Posted by Virgil View Post
    You had a good day then Janine. I'll still look for a traditional text of Kangaroo for you.
    Athough I did not sleep well last night, I don't feel as badly as yesterday - very odd....and I should definitely be in bed by now, don't you think?!
    Anyway, I was researching Lawrence online and dug up so many interesting things like great pictures and an article about his ranch and Mabel Dodge Luhan's house - all kinds of wonderful photos....all in living color. I was stunned by the scenery. I have to post some somewhere or the address of the site. I also found tons of other stuff by just being patient and wading through a lot of material.
    I found another short book I wanted, not Lawrence. I also found some good commentary on L's poems, stories, etc. Yikes, I did not realise there is so much online about Lawrence. Glad I found out there is such extensive interest.

    Virgil, thanks for looking for "Kangaroo" anyway in book form. Would be great if you find it. I am trying to get a good price on "Mornings in New Mexico" but so far I have not seen a good seller but one will pop up eventually; I keep it in my wish list on Amazon. Just trying to acquire the books I have not read yet.

    Well, sorry ktd, to get off the beaten path here but I will be back tomorrow to post something in answer to your great post on "Tortoise Shell."
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

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

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    ktd, too tired out now. I will have to delay till I can get to your posts - soon - I promise. Sorry, J
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

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

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    My post must be so brilliant that it is leaving people speechless

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    Vincit Qui Se Vincit Virgil's Avatar
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    Perhaps it's time for the next poem if we are going to study the series.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    My post must be so brilliant that it is leaving people speechless

    ktd, it is not that...not 'speechless', just 'timeless'. Your post certainly is 'brilliant', but I just have had no time to get back to this thread. I have been feeling guilty about making you wait so long, but I put it top of my long list today - truly I did....also, now... since, as Virgil said:

    Perhaps it's time for the next poem if we are going to study the series.
    ...and I surely agree. In fact, I just pulled up my Microsoft Word file with the poem copied in it, so I can post it right after I address this 'brilliant' post of yours ktd! So here goes:



    Quote Originally Posted by ktd222 View Post
    Yes, you’d divulged to me this little nugget of truth regarding Lawrence and evolution a month or two ago; but gosh, it is so hard for me to see evolution and a “planned” process coexisting in this poem. I’ll make an effort for you and Virgil though.
    I like the way you call it a 'nugget of truth'. That is good ktd; I think I probably have a few nuggets rattling around in my skull about L by now! I don't think, that one has to eliminate the whole idea of 'evolution' to accept that the universe is ordered and patterned. One only needs to see the patterns on such things as butterflies, tortoises, turtles, snakes, sea-life to acknowledge this patterning and orderliness. I would therefore conclude that all of nature (and Lawrence was a great observer of nature and plants and botany, etc.) falls into a kind of order, and therefore he felt it all co-existed and was part of a universal plan. Does the theory of evolution eliminate this idea? I don't feel it does, but maybe you would disagree on that point.

    I think Virgil recognized the importance of this last stanza in identifying the theme of this poem first. So thank you Virgil. But you have summed it up beautifully, Janine.
    So be it-- Virgil can have all the credit. Thanks for your compliment on my summing it up beautifully. I might have had a moment of 'brilliance' myself that day.

    I will try and expand on your comments. Look at the word “manifold.” In the context of this stanza the word “manifold” is not defined, that is there’s no number identifying a degree of complexity involved in creating an individual creature. Now, just two stanzas before is a line that read “through his five-fold complex-nature.” Here we are told the exact degree of what made this tortoise. And throughout the poem we are given mathematical hints, a coefficient factor of sorts, as to how life in this world varies. However complex creatures become, they do so by a factor of five. Wow!!! In the beginning was the equation, something containable we can write out, seemingly rigid, to define the way in which all organisms arise; but the equation does not have one single answer, or two or three. The application of this equation results in that which is uncontainable, because it produces limitless answers.

    ktd, not sure this is not just Lawrence's concept of the ordered universe but of course he probably knew more about nature than I do and he apparently studied these equations and number references. So when you say: 'However complex creatures become, they do so by a factor of five. Wow!!!' do you feel that is Lawrence's concept or actually the truth? I think Lawrence was pretty amazing

    Plus he adds in “The Lord” towards the end of the poem. I mean, with respect to the rest of the poem doesn’t it seem “The Cross” represents more than just a belief, a way to live this life? Doesn’t Lawrence show that the basic building block of all organisms is the Cross?
    Yes, he does say "The Lord" and I am not sure at this point in Lawrence's life what his concept of 'The Lord' would be; for this seemed to change over time for him personally. The cross is very reminescent, as Virgil already stated, of the time L spent in Italy and wrote about it in his travel books. There were many crosses mentioned there up on the mountain roads. Not sure of your last question but think it is a good concept and one to consider.

    I think Virgil said it, so I would like to reiterate that the keystone is the segment at which the arch formed by segments divides into halves. It is also worth noting that the keystone, as defined online is a wedge-shaped piece, similarly as the tortoise head is described as a “wedge-balancing head.”
    That is a good explanation and I like the idea or correlation of the tortoise head to the keystone shape, in your last statement here. Very good analysis!


    This would have made sense if he said “threes and fours is twelves…” or something to that affect.
    Well, this actually is right from his "Apocalypse book", so he must know what it means. As manolia always tells me we might not be able to figure it all out. Only by asking L himself or studying with scholars for years could we come close I suppose. I do think this numbering system ties in with the Apocalypse in the Bible and Revelations.

    This part I can grasp. No thank you, about the book. But I would like to hear what you thought about it when you’re done reading it. Send me a PM. Sorry, I’m just being lazy.
    That is ok, you can be lazy, ktd. I have the urge myself to be lazy now -- I am kind of burned out from last month and so much activity. Thought this month would be easier but it is active too. Maybe next month on here I will take a long overdue break. I ordered the book online the other day so I don't need to copy/scan it. Glad you could grasp what I had written about it.
    Last edited by Janine; 07-19-2007 at 02:46 PM.
    "It's so mysterious, the land of tears."

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

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    Our wee Olympic swimmer Janine's Avatar
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    Here is the next Tortoise poem. It is a longer one and called:

    TORTOISE FAMILY CONNECTIONS

    by: D.H. Lawrence (1885-1930)

    ON he goes, the little one,
    Bud of the universe,
    Pediment of life.

    Setting off somewhere, apparently.
    Whither away, brisk egg?

    His mother deposited him on the soil as if he were no more than droppings,
    And now he scuffles tinily past her as if she were an old rusty tin.

    A mere obstacle,
    He veers round the slow great mound of her--
    Tortoises always foresee obstacles.

    It is no use my saying to him in an emotional voice:
    "This is your Mother, she laid you when you were an egg."

    He does not even trouble to answer: "Woman, what have I to do with thee?"
    He wearily looks the other way,
    And she even more wearily looks another way still,
    Each with the utmost apathy,
    Incognizant,
    Unaware,
    Nothing.

    As for papa,
    He snaps when I offer him his offspring,
    Just as he snaps when I poke a bit of stick at him,
    Because he is irascible this morning, an irascible tortoise
    Being touched with love, and devoid of fatherliness.

    Father and mother,
    And three little brothers,
    And all rambling aimless, like little perambulating pebbles scattered in the garden,
    Not knowing each other from bits of earth or old tins.

    Except that papa and mama are old acquaintances, of course,
    But family feeling there is none, not even the beginnings.

    Fatherless, motherless, brotherless, sisterless
    Little tortoise.

    Row on then, small pebble,
    Over the clods of the autumn, wind-chilled sunshine,
    Young gayety.

    Does he look for a companion?

    No, no, don't think it.
    He doesn't know he is alone;
    Isolation is his birthright,
    This atom.

    To row forward, and reach himself tall on spiny toes,
    To travel, to burrow into a little loose earth, afraid of the night,
    To crop a little substance,
    To move, and to be quite sure that he is moving:
    Basta!

    To be a tortoise!
    Think of it, in a garden of inert clods
    A brisk, brindled little tortoise, all to himself--
    Crœsus!

    In a garden of pebbles and insects,
    Slow, and unquestioned,
    And inordinately there, O stoic!
    Wandering in the slow triumph of his own existence,
    Ringing the soundless bell of his presence in chaos,
    And biting the frail grass arrogantly,
    Decidedly arrogantly.

    "Tortoise Family Connections" is reprinted from Tortoises. D.H. Lawrence. New York: Thomas Seltzer, 1921
    "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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    Quote Originally Posted by ktd222 View Post
    Plus he adds in “The Lord” towards the end of the poem. I mean, with respect to the rest of the poem doesn’t it seem “The Cross” represents more than just a belief, a way to live this life? Doesn’t Lawrence show that the basic building block of all organisms is the Cross?
    ktd, I know by just looking at those references in this poem, you might be led to think that Lawrence was a traditional Christian, but he was not. He evolved to be quite paganesk. As Janine can tell you from reading Apocalypse, he believed that myths had an incredible power over people and influenced their subconscious. He felt that the Christ myth which had taken over the western world was incomplete and actually deleterious to society. In one of his last works of fiction, perhpas it was the last, he wrote The Man Who Died, a short novel rewriting the Christ resurrection story and marrying it to the Osirus/Isis myth. It is a remarkable work and I highly recommend it. Here's a little something on it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Escaped_****. They also give you a little of chapter one here on amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Man-Who-Died-D.../dp/0880014296

    Just to let people know, I will be going on vacation tomorrow and will not be home until the 28th. I don't think I will be able to post anything on the new poem until then.
    LET THERE BE LIGHT

    "Love follows knowledge." – St. Catherine of Siena

    My literature blog: http://ashesfromburntroses.blogspot.com/

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    I will have to check out that link, Virgil. Thanks! I did read 'The Man Who Died' long ago. I will have to re-read it soon; I am sure it will be with a new perspective on L and his ideas. I
    don't know if L is actually agreeing with myths and other references in his "Apocalypse" book - we could have a whole debate just on that book! I think he is basically pointing out the flaws or the origins in the writing of Revelations and how it was altered over time by the church and others. He is saying that the work, which many Christians feel baffled about, yet will accept verbatim, is actually based on pagan origins and even numerology and astrological/astronomical calculations and mythical images. It is basically a huge 'pot of potpouri' in the final anaylsis and in the closing chapters of "Apocalypse", he is setting forth his own personal ideas/theology on the human race and the universe and what will come to be futuristically. In many ways, Lawrence was quite prophetic, as was his good friend, Audox Huxley. I don't think that "Apocalypse" is an easy book to interpret. I feel I need to read it again sometime soon. If nothing else, it is definitely intriguing.

    Virgil, hi ....so you will be gone 10 days on vacation? How nice for you! I hope you have a great time!!! Don't even think about Lit Net, when you are away - just have fun! Relax.....enjoy the CA sun and scenery and chill out.

    We won't get too ahead on this poem and you can pick it up easily when you get back....we move at a tortoise's pace.....
    Last edited by Janine; 07-20-2007 at 05:28 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 don't think, that one has to eliminate the whole idea of 'evolution' to accept that the universe is ordered and patterned. One only needs to see the patterns on such things as butterflies, tortoises, turtles, snakes, sea-life to acknowledge this patterning and orderliness. I would therefore conclude that all of nature (and Lawrence was a great observer of nature and plants and botany, etc.) falls into a kind of order, and therefore he felt it all co-existed and was part of a universal plan. Does the theory of evolution eliminate this idea? I don't feel it does, but maybe you would disagree on that point.
    In this poem, yes, I’m favoring the role of a “planned” process over evolution. I think that the order we see developing in this poem has less to do evolution. The patterns that we do see in the poem arose from a preset equation set by The Lord. Seeing patterns is one thing, attributing it to the Lord rather than the affects of earthly situations is another.


    ktd, not sure this is not just Lawrence's concept of the ordered universe but of course he probably knew more about nature than I do and he apparently studied these equations and number references. So when you say: 'However complex creatures become, they do so by a factor of five. Wow!!!' do you feel that is Lawrence's concept or actually the truth? I think Lawrence was pretty amazing
    I feel this is Lawrence’s belief, and therefore is his truth. I don’t think it really matters whether this is an original concept or not, that is the concept conveyed in this poem. I don’t think it is the universal truth, but I still like the idea.

    Yes, he does say "The Lord" and I am not sure at this point in Lawrence's life what his concept of 'The Lord' would be; for this seemed to change over time for him personally. The cross is very reminescent, as Virgil already stated, of the time L spent in Italy and wrote about it in his travel books. There were many crosses mentioned there up on the mountain roads. Not sure of your last question but think it is a good concept and one to consider.
    There are other meanings with reference to Lord and the Cross? A poem should almost wholly be self-explanatory without needing one to do research on parts of the poem. I feel like I recognized what Lawrence was trying to achieve in that poem, and I’m satisfied with what I saw.


    Well, this actually is right from his "Apocalypse book", so he must know what it means. As manolia always tells me we might not be able to figure it all out. Only by asking L himself or studying with scholars for years could we come close I suppose. I do think this numbering system ties in with the Apocalypse in the Bible and Revelations.
    I think this goes for almost every poem written, whether the author is established or not.


    I’m going to take a break, Janine. Feel free to continue the discussion without me; don’t feel bad about do so. I’ll come back to the discussion soon…if you are still discussing them.

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