D. H. Lawrence – Bavarian Gentians

Turning the decorative and incidental into something all-consuming, the flowers the give this poem its name symbolise the passionate, uncontrollable essence of the human as Lawrence sees it. The darkness so prominent in the poem is at once the id, sex, death and madness – held together by their shared connection with the Classical myth of Persephone and Dis. It is an ethereal concoction of unstable forces which oppose the light – representative of hope, truth and goodness – offering an alluring, primeval guidance. Lawrence’s use of allusion seems to encourage a universal application of the poem’s ideas, with the flowers as a symbol for the human condition. Yet there is a deliberate, though problematic effort to eschew this generalization and present them as a personal symbol, a confession of the speaker’s own dark passions. This despite the consuming darkness in the imagery of the poem, that removes all distinctions and makes any notion of individuality impossible. Continue reading